Speeches are often always the same, especially so when, during a state opening of parliament, it has been an occasion of politicians telling the nation what has been scored by a particular government, not least to the Koroma led government. Look at President Koroma’s speech at the state opening of parliament on the 5th of October 2007, and tell me, if there had been much difference.
Anyway, I listened attentively to the speech delivered by President Ernest Bai Koroma during the state opening of parliament, past Friday and particularly paid attention to his call for a cultural renaissance in the country; given the significance that culture has to a country’s development.
Dressed in his typical Sierra Leonean dress, President Koroma called
on Sierra Leoneans to be proud of their culture and as such, wear not just the Africana, but a Leona or a Sierra.
Fore him, ‘our culture is the mark of our identity, an inheritance from our forefathers that we must enhance for transmission to our children’ and therefore asked us all to ‘dedicate ourselves to utilizing our rich cultural heritage; let us make a pledge to enliven our society with the dazzling traditions of our people. We have seen tentative moves in this direction; people wear Africana on Fridays, Sierra Leonean music is once more popular in most places. But we need to do more than that’
But what is the Sierra Leonean culture you may want to ask; practically speaking, that cultural renaissance should not be limited to ‘the ronkos of Koinadugu, the kondee gulay of Bo and Kailahun, the gara of Makeni, and the kabaslot of the Western Area’
It has been a perfect idea on the part of Mr. President to call on Sierra Leoneans to ‘ put Friday aside for wearing Sierra Leonean attire. My call to our musicians and producers is to get on the shegureh, the balanji, the kondi, the killi and the bata. Energise the bubu, the goombay and the poromende. Revive the ambasgeda and the alimania; recall the music of Calendar, Salia and Bassie Kondi.
And to the musicians, he called on them ‘to choreograph the Sierra Leonean dance. My call to our writers is to write the Sierra Leonean stories and bring alive the souls of our people. Let our fashion designers start a process of creating the Sierra Leonean wear for our convocations and parades, for our thanksgivings and anniversaries’
It is no secret that our cultural renaissance will not only enhance the re-branding of our nation but will as well regenerate faith in our abilities, generate revenue for our people and enliven our streets with the colors of our heritage, and as a way of supporting this belief, Hon Koroma had to ‘declare every Friday a day of Sierra Leonean culture when we wear Sierra Leonean attire, eat Sierra Leonean food and dance to Sierra Leonean music.
With this in mind, may I state that, from what I have heard in the very recent past, especially during a phoning-in-programme held at Citizen Radio in the east of Freetown, am afraid, the whole idea has been misunderstood, and as such, there is the need for people, especially our political elites, include the President to again, redefine this idea. The reason being, we all saw what happened with late President Joseph Saidu Momoh, when he said, ‘I have failed the nation, the interpretations were devastating to say the least.
Interpretations of late, in certain quarters about the call to cultural renaissance have not been encouraging. One school of thought is of the belief that, going back to our cultural heritage means, giving more prominence to cultural and traditional practices like Bondo and. I wonder if that is the case.
How many of us would want to see the spill of blood in central Freetown just in the name of cultural practice as been interpreted over citizen radio? Or would we want to get a continuation of the Bondo tradition when they had been called even before now that, such should be abolished?
Does this cultural renaissance that is called for by the President ,means, seeing traditional plays from the north, or east of the country been performed at central Freetown, or are we going back to those practices like, when the ‘Sokoman’ would parade the street of Freetown with blood oozing all over his body? Am asking because, from what the nation is been told over Citizen Radio, and from what callers gave as their interpretation, these are the kind of things I am envisaging.
Can IB Kargbo, and his ‘men’ at the information ministry or Hindolo Trye at Culture and Tourism Ministry take their time to explain to people what the president actually meant, especially when he has dedicated not only a day to this, but a Friday, when people should be going to their mosques to ask for mercy fro Allah
I do appreciate the fact that, this is a way of reviving our lost culture, especially when compared to other countries like Ghana, where you don’t need to ask if an individual is a Ghanaian, but by his or her dress can tell. Likewise with Nigeria. I think it is also high time that the Ministry of Tourism and Culture got all what it needs if we are to achieve that dream of going back to our lost culture.
It should not just be limited to calling on people to be wearing not only ‘Africana, but a Leona, or a Sierra; the ronkos of Koinadugu, the kondee gulay of Bo and Kailahun, the gara of Makeni, the kabaslot of the Western Area. I very much appreciate that, in a week I could wear my ronko or gara, but there is more to it6 than the ordinary eye can see.
I have still not been able to see the relevance attached to a ministry in charged of Culture and Tourism, when all what that ministry has been doing is to demolish Beach Bar, and rather absurdly in a selective manner, as claimed by some of the affected people. The needed resources are not there, and least I forget, on how many occasion has our Tourism Minister dressed in Sierra Leonean, or African attire?
We have as a nation, seen the adverse effect that the Western way of life has had on us as a people. But than God that, today we have not only appreciated our Sierra Leonean musicians but we have gone the extra mile, in seeing that, the other aspects of our lost cultural heritage be regained for the good of mama Salone, be dedicating a day as culture day.
By John Baimba Sesay-077838457