On the 21st of April 2016, I returned home from the United States; it was my first time in Sierra Leone since President Ernest Bai Koroma (EBK) was elected as Head of State of the Republic of Sierra Leone. I was extremely emotional and equally excited about the changes and progress for our beloved country. As an American with dual citizenship, Sierra Leone was personally my first country of choice. I was born in the Northern Province in the early fifties, I spent most of my life going to school and working for beloved Mama Salone. During my period of active service for the country, I witnessed six civilian government rule in Sierra Leone; except for that of Sir Milton; I was still a boy.
As a matter of fact, I witnessed the first Military Coup-detat, but I was too young to understand the ramifications of military takeover. Since then, few more military coups happened for reasons unbeknown to the public; except the coup plotters. With all successive governments, the origin of civil wars, rebellions, and struggles for power could be traced mostly from the Eastern part of Sierra Leone. The spontaneous and illegal killings, torture and imprisonment was the landmark signature of most of those regimes.
In all these years of rule, there has been little or no marked development and the most visible was killing of political opponents and the rampage of the country’s resources. When I was in High school, my uncle the Late H.S. Bangura; may his soul rest in peace, talked about Governor Clarkson’s prayer which focused on the Rulers and people of Sierra Leone. I believe few Sierra Leoneans know about this prayer and I recommend the inclusion of this prayer into our civic and social education curriculum for High schools and tertiary levels. I believe that this prayer will impact the minds and values of our prospective Leaders of this nation.
However, it is sad to note that most of our young populations today are joining the military as means to survive the economic hardship, rather than the patriotic drive to defend our civil liberties or territorial integrity in case of foreign aggression. Sadly, others with disgruntled minds and negative experiences are easily swayed into risking their lives by contemplating and executing the heinous and treasonable act of military coups to become president or form a looting government.
These cycles of political leadership had negatively defined our national legacy to the rest of the world. Prior to this time, Sierra Leone’s political circus was catching up with most the African nations in terms of infrastructure, free and fair governance, human rights and sustainable development projects. Needles to talk about catching up with the western world; the technological capability was nonexistence or extremely embarrassing when compared to rural villages of the most remote parts of the west. But we are still part of the global family; what happened and how did we arrive at this position and how has the leadership of EBK reshaped the country’s image, whilst managing the collateral damages of the previous successive regimes?
On my third visit to Sierra Leone since President Koroma’s inauguration into office was on the 1st of April 2016. After checking out from lungi Airport, we found out that there was no Ferry to take us across to Freetown. Those of us that can afford it, paid $40:00 to get us over to Freetown via speed boats. I was scared and terrified due to the wave splashing the boat. It made me really uncomfortable because it was not my preferred way of transportation but I had to take the boat because it was the only means of reaching mainland. It was during our boat ride, I asked the Captain what was wrong with our Ferries? He said the Government has decided to buy two new ones, and on hearing that, my adrenaline went up not with fear of the waves but with anger. I had lived in Freetown all my adult life from the early seventies to the late eighties and there was this talk of replacing these ferries but to no avail. Pa Shaki built the Aberdeen Bridge, Stadium, Youyiu building and some very important Landmarks as his legacy. I may be wrong, but I believe he bought those ferries over three decades ago. These ferries are the window to the outside World and their service goes a long way to visitors in our Country.
Most of the time, African immigrants in the United States, criticize leaders from their Countries of origin as corrupt because of the misuse of Foreign aid that undermines development.
My first impression during this visit when I was in the boat was anger. However, after taking a taxi to my destination at Blackhall road Kissy; I noticed that all the streets the Driver used were paved; and my greatest surprise! was Blackhall road which in my wildest dreams was to be the worst in the whole World was also paved and I said “wow!” I went to bed around 1:00pm to have some rest after a two-day long journey from the US. I kept thinking about the streets I passed through and realized that, there were no pot holes. Then I said to myself “All is not lost”; there are no new Ferries but we have new roads.
So many Leaders have failed us; but it seems that this time, Ernest Koroma has turned the page for posterity and altered the course of the crooked political dance of his immediate predecessors; with the reasonable delivery of long overdue needs.
Yes, at this time of austerity sacrifices, His opposition and everyone feeling the pinch of the changes may cry out loud to market the current challenges as having failed us in many ways; but looking backward in comparism, I have come to realize that, “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”
The next morning, my cousin Mr. Amara K Gbla suggested we make a trip to Makeni and Magburaka through Port Loko to see the progress the President has taken towards the development of the Country.
Our plan was to go to Makeni through Port Loko but we were late for the Ferry so we passed through Masiaka.
The road were impressively good except for the Killer-Magbaily ferry bridge between Masiaka and Lunsar that ended my friend’s life, Sheik Gibrill Sesay.
I am hopeful that our Beloved President will fix this bridge this time around. As an advice to Mr. President, a famous philosopher, once said “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”. Going back to our journey of Discovery, we passed through Masiaka to Makeni and low and behold, the road was fantastic. We arrived at Makeni at about 4:00pm and were guest of Mr. Albert, the Principal at St Francis High School where we stayed with his family for two days. In the evening, we drove around the town and I saw firsthand the fantastic infrastructural development the President accomplished in his home town. The next morning, we went to Magburaka my Alma Mata and bonafide city. I first drove through the street I grew up Beckly Street and I noticed the newly built electricity house which looks fantastic and came through the main road to Bo road. We passed through the market and on to Mabom Street and I was impressed with all these new developments. Yet we have forgotten so soon and roads are not our priority any more. The entire country is practically connected and accessible with reasonable road network and transportation. The strategic focus of a good leader is not to answer all the problems at the same time; but to deliver the most realistic solution to a dangerous national cause. Please be reminded that he stayed and provided the much needed leadership and hope to dispel the realistic fear during the difficult and fearful time of Ebola; not for once did he run away like many would have done. We have seen his resolute and firm dedication to fighting an epidemic; I trust him this time again that he will lead us to a smooth transition to stability and hopeful direction.
This leads to my conclusion that the President has a noble agenda that has been infected by unprecedented contingencies. These situations are partly beyond his control and are taking the current desperate measures to dislodge the obstacles undermining his good plans. Yet still, his political footprints have strategic foresight and have far more tangible evidences of patriotic symbols as compared to existing records.
It is relevant to note at this point that “When a flower does not bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” Our president is trying, let us support him with good ideas and patriotic loyalty.
I cannot conclude this piece without mentioning a few patriotic Sierra Leoneans that are part of the engine that stirs the presidents success. One of the few is the honorable Palo Conteh for his great achievements in the ministries he has served. The other two are the ones I was privileged to meet are Messers Abdulai A. Kamara Director General and Mr. French of SLRA.
I am therefore, appealing to my fellow Sierra Leoneans to be patient and give President EBK a little more time to leave a Trail while he is still alive for our children. We are a resilient nation; and have endured more hardship and mayhem before.
The clarion call for patience and understanding will only help in the process of peace and nation building; which are better alternatives to disorder and civil disobedience. If you agree with me or not, please reach me at – firstname.lastname@example.org on face book or a tweeter. God bless you and God bless Sierra Leone my beloved nation. Happy new year to you all!!
© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.