Fellow Sierra Leoneans
On this very day, forty nine years ago, we asserted our rights to shape our own destiny. We asserted those rights because we believed we would build upon the great traditions of scholarship, freedom and entrepreneurship for which our forbearers were renowned all over West Africa. We have sometimes fallen short of those great traditions. But this nation has over and over again risen up to face the challenge with resolute action.
We have been able to do this because the bonds that unite us are stronger than the issues that divide us. We all have relatives, friends, schoolmates and good neighbours in the other political parties, or the other religion and ethnic group. These deep ties that we share with people who may belong to another political party or ethnic group or religion are the sources of our unity, the mainstay of our nation; and a cause for celebration.
Let us on this forty ninth anniversary of independence celebrate these unifying bonds of our country. Let us congratulate ourselves for the moments we asserted the great values that have held this country together. Let us give praise for the beauty of our country, the friendliness of our people and the actions we have taken towards building a peaceful, democratic and caring society.
Fellow Sierra Leoneans, let us celebrate the tolerance and respect Muslims and Christians show for each other in this land. Let us celebrate our achievements. Every morning, say to yourself - I am proud to be a Sierra Leonean.
Being a proud Sierra Leonean warrants practical commitment to building upon the achievements we have made as a nation. It is not enough for us to say our country has the oldest Western-style University in Africa; we should also commit ourselves to sustaining our heritage of great scholarship. We should not stop at saying that our country is one of the most religiously tolerant in the world; we should also continue to assert the bonds of friendship between Muslims and Christians. Let it not suffice to say our country has fertile soils and great mineral resources; we should commit ourselves to acquiring the skills and discipline required to pick up the blessing God has bestowed upon our country.
My dear compatriots, I have an abiding faith in the desire of every Sierra Leonean to see our country progress. I believe that we all collectively aspire to improved agricultural productivity, increased electricity generation, and the completion of our road building programmes.
Progress on all these fronts is a national necessity. Let no one suspend his contribution to the well being of this nation because his party is not in power. Let no one refuse to contribute to our development because she does not have a big post. The progress of this nation is not about political parties or big posts; it is about dedicated service to the cause of Sierra Leone. It is about respect for the common man and woman; it is about delivering health care services in every district, building roads and bridges to every town, improving electricity generation and ensuring that agricultural productivity is increased.
Fellow Sierra Leoneans, let us be reminded of that fact that it is Sierra Leone that wins when all these programmes are successfully implemented. I want Sierra Leone to win; and the time is now.
Today we will launch the free health care programme for pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under five. Every Sierra Leonean should be proud of this initiative. It is an initiative fashioned from our strong belief that a country can only secure its future when it secures the lives of its children; that a nation cannot guarantee the joys of family life until it secures the life and health of its pregnant women and mothers. Because we want happy families; because we aspire to a secure future, we are today abolishing user fees for pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under five.
Next year, we shall be commemorating our fiftieth anniversary of independence. We look forward to our celebrating the victory of Sierra Leone; we aspire to a celebration of our achievements as a nation; we shall celebrate our common bonds of family, friendship, and good neighbourliness. Sierra Leone is a greater nation when we assert these divine values.
On this special day, let me end by wishing you all truly memorable 49th anniversary celebrations.
God Bless Sierra Leone