I once listened to a Rev. Father deliver a sermon and he started with a short story. You had two scenarios of people, ten in each case. In both cases there were ten people with a large bowl of delicious food in the center of their circle. What they had in common apart from the delicious food and their equal numbers of ten, they all each had long table spoons.
In the first group the guys were very thin and starving. Although they had enough food to eat, they were virtually starving to death. In this group, each one tries to eat with his own very long spoon, but it was impossible. You cannot use a spoon three or four times longer than your own hand. So as they kept trying and they started starving to death.
In the second group they agreed among themselves that they should feed each other across the circle in pairs since the spoons were too long. That way they were able to feed themselves and were growing fatter and fatter everyday. Tell me why do people not like to share especially food? You know God so arranged it that everyday we as human beings have to eat in order to survive to the next day. I have never really heard of anybody eating in one day to cover the coming days. If it were so, then life could be very easy. I will just get some sumptuous meal cooked for me and I eat to cover say a week or one month and that is it. I will then laze about for all that period. It is only hunger that all living things obey. So when guys go around pounding their chests and saying that they are strong, I wonder if when they are hungry, they do eat. Sleep is another thing that everybody obeys. I have never heard that somebody is so strong that he does not sleep and eat.
With the recent ugly violent incidents in Koidu and Bo, believed to be politically motivated, I can well say that we as a nation are in a state of security emergency. Recently I wrote about the three political associationsAPPA, APPYA and APPWA. They were formed to present a common front to ensure that there is unity and peace among the various parties. However we are yet to see them live by those ideals. They need to address emergencies caused by man’s violence to man which are the ones that everybody talks about. If you look around Freetown today you see that we have houses built all over the hill right up. Well you might say it is all part of our development to have enough houses for the threateningly growing population in and around Freetown.
Just last week the World Risk Index placed Sierra Leone among the five most vulnerable countries in the world. Sierra Leone was number four after Afghanistan, Niger and Chad. Eretria was placed fifth. Interestingly notorious Somalia was not part of the research mainly because of lack of statistics.
The main issue looked at was the capacity to cope which looks at the state of governance, disaster preparedness and early warning systems, medical services, and social and material security levels. WRI sees risk as the interaction between a natural hazard and the vulnerability of a particular community. WRI takes into account social, political, economic and ecological factors to determine the capacity of an affected community to respond. Four main components are considered.
These are: exposure to natural hazard; susceptibility-livelihood of society and ecosystems to be damaged should a natural hazard occur; capacity to copethe state of governance, disaster preparednessyou need a stable government that has the capacity to deliver, to help people become resilient. We are not going to get a stable government if a lot of atrocities become the path to get there.
A point worth making is that we do not need any body to tell us that our disaster proneness is no secret. We are only lucky that nature has not yet growled against us.
As a nation we have done quite a lot in disaster preparedness, only that those that might be heavily affected by disasters are the same people who create vulnerability. You need to look down at low areas in the city, even under bridges. All sorts of structures have been put in that place in complete opposition to nature. Well, it is only a matter of time and we will see the hazards being created in this choked city. Government had long set up the Office of National Security and it has desks in most district headquarter towns. They work with partners to assess the country’s security situation. Some non-governmental organizations are working hard to get communities to be very sensitive about their various contexts in terms of security.
There was a time in this country when we had only one radio station and that was the SLBS. At first it had the short wave frequency and then in the 90s or so it had the FM on 99.9. Later we had FM 106 in Freetown and FM 104 in Bo. So many others followed as time went on until today almost all districts and some chiefdom headquarter towns have radio stations on frequency modulation. At first this was seen as a very welcome development. There had for long been the problem of independent media.
However when the community radios came on board, it appeared the gaps in radio listening had been closed. But no new problems emerged bordering on objectivity and the adherence in terms of the Code of Ethics. So many efforts have been made to safeguard the public from libel and sedition. One thing that is a fact is that the media is simply mirroring society. It hardly manufactures news. So in actual fact it is the public that sells the rope to hang them.
At the height of all the security challenges, is politics. Politics is the highest generator of insecurity. What an irony! I say so because the whole business of good governance is to raise the decision- making base of people and to provide access to resources and live a healthy life, leading to peaceful co-existence. This peaceful co-existence and community cohesion has been just too difficult to meet. You may want to ask why when it comes to politicking you hardly find a level playing field which is often talked about but hardly exists. Well I know that life itself is not fair at all. That is why you die so that you will not try to understand everything about our world. Yes, do not bother to try to understand so much because you will simply go insane. Politics, especially partisan politics sometimes get so nasty that one wonders why we have to practice our politics on the lines of politics. I am gradually beginning to hold it responsible for our worst violence. Recently the incidents have been too frequent to escape any peace-loving person’s attention.
One hope though, and that is the current robust posture of the Political parties Registration Commission is taking may in so many ways curb the often too frequent excesses of some of our parties. If only we play by the rules even in its present form, I think enough sanity will be brought to bear on the conduct of our parties. On the other hand some ambiguities or ambivalence in some of our laws are enough recipes for chaos. I wonder why legal literature always has some grey areas no matter how well written a law can be. What I want to appeal for is for people to allow the PPRC to do its job. That way we will all enjoy politics in this our land that we all love so much.
I will still continue to say that the internal workings of a party should demonstrate democratic principles as enunciated in the Constitution. It should form part of the work of civil society to help enhance awareness and understanding of the fundamental tenets of the Rule of Law and Good Governance and also help the public to know the statutory provisions that affect their livelihoods and dignity.