Sierra Leone is the poorest country in the world; the experts said it and the media reported it because we can see it, feel it, touch it and it is killing us all. The politicians in Sierra Leone do not agree, but the media and the people are closer than the politicians. Poverty is all over the country coupled with lack of infrastructure, low salary and lack of housing accommodation.
Many health reports in the country are blaming politicians for inflicting poverty on the people due to bad governance and corruption. Diseases in most developed countries that are easily preventable will kill someone in Sierra Leone. In 2008, the number of ‘untimely deaths’ in the country ranging from 25 to 40 years can explain that even a light headache can take one’s life, why: because of poverty and bad governance in the country since independence.
Malaria has been the killer disease in the country, but the cost of the treatment is very expensive. Is the media to blame for this; does the media set the customs duty or the retail price on these drugs, no.
The example of malaria can be taken to other diseases; I know that, especially tuberculosis TB and HIV are also killing the poor in the country. When there are enough food nutrients in the human body, it will be able to resist many sicknesses, but because of poverty most Sierra Leoneans lack the resistance.
For the past 10 years, politicians have been fighting poverty from all fronts, but the result is the more they fight, the poorer we become because prices of essential foodstuff rises daily, so is the media responsible for the surge? The public will tell. The average Sierra Leone can’t drink milk or eat chicken daily, why; because these foods are more of a privilege than necessity in the country.
The best an average man can afford is rice and cassava leaves or potato leaves in the morning, noon and evening, if he can afford three meals a day. I agree that they too have enough nutrients for the body, but what is inside these sauces are just a string of Herring fish. The politics of poverty is continuing everyday in the country but there is no end in site.
Politics, democracy and poverty do not co-habit very well. It is hard to talk about politics and democracy if you are talking to someone who lives off less than a dollar a day or cannot afford three meals a day let alone one meal. But because of the endemic illiteracy in the country it is difficult to explain how these poor people who live in sharks and crowded areas still come out year in and year out to dance for politicians.
The members of parliament want Le12 million salaries a month and I’m sure if a referendum is made these same people that are suffering will vote in favor. When the media comes out with these stories that it is unacceptable, some of these poverty stricken people blame the media of lying or doing it out of jealousy.
In the last elections millions of Leones was spent on campaigning. After the elections the problems in the country has escalated because politicians need to get their monies back; so projects implemented will give them kick backs. Newspapers have been reporting these projects from the electricity to the cocaine plane, the ordinary Sierra Leonean refused to understand instead they are singing ‘global or no global we go vote for we party’.
How can we speak of economic growth in the country when a bag of rice is about $45 (Le130, 000) a month’s salary for at least 40% of Sierra Leoneans. Fuel prices are still high considering the cost in the international market. Transportation cost is high and it is the same for almost every commodity. This is a mockery to Sierra Leoneans especially the rural poor.
The ruling party says the kitty was empty when they took over and the economy is donor driven. What a joke. The former Finance Minister indeed made a handing over note to the current minister. At that time they did not tell us there was no money. The president and members of parliament forgot that the country is driven by the donors when they asked for astronomical pay rise.
It is very clear that poverty and the public cannot ride in the same boat, because corruption will be paramount. Where will the line be drawn? Is there hope for Sierra Leoneans after 48 years of independence?
The late Bob Marley sang ‘in the abundance of water the fool is thirsty’. Whenever I think of that song, I think of the country where rainfall has never been short, but the people cannot get clean water to drink. The excuses have surpassed the solutions to the problems and there is no end in sight. The only solution is building another dam at Orugu, but where will the government raise the required $300 million for such a project?
The city has been overcrowded because the provinces are under developed. What is the cause? It is because of the land tenure system and the power of the Chiefs. The media has done all it could for the country to have the same laws all around but the politicians from the provinces who are in the majority always refused to even talk about it because they know what they are benefiting. Most of them have built their houses in the city and not in their home town where they contest elections.
Anti corruption is just a farce in Sierra Leone and Africa in general because where there is extreme poverty there will be extreme corruption. We all live above our monthly income, where do we get the extras to keep the family running; mostly it comes from corruptible means. The most pathetic day for the average Sierra Leonean is the day he collects his salary, because the salary he receives that day has already finished even before collecting it. How sad.
I can authoritatively say that about 95 percent of the population has to contend with second hand clothing, because of poverty. The second hand market has been popular as they sell from clothes to underwear. People tell you that the second hand market is cheap and have quality than brand new ones.
The politicians know all about our plight, but they have no solutions to the problems. In Sierra Leone, we should try to be healthy always or else death is very close when you are sick. Drugs are expensive, Doctors fees are expensive and hospital bill too is expensive. This is the reason why it has been a norm now for people to dump pregnant women at the PCMH because the family members have no money to pay the bills especially when it is Caesarean birth.
This is cruel and inhuman, but they do it because of poverty. Doctors have been helping people who don’t have the fees to pay. The doctors will credit them only for them to go and never show up again. The doctor too has his family to take care and if he is not paid he cannot live, so they started asking for their fees up front which has prompted these inhuman acts from people.
According to survey, the new killer disease in the country is pressure and heart attack. Young and old are now pressure patients. People are thinking day and night how to meet the demands thereby developing such sickness. We have to pay school fees, transportation, food, lunch, clothing etc. all from the ‘fish cake’ salary we receive. Some husbands even have abandoned their families because they can’t meet their demands.
Prostitution has been on the rise, as young as 13 year-old girls can be seen all over the city at night doing prostitution. When interviewed they tell you they have to take care of their families because mother and father are not working their younger ones are going to school, so the only trade they know is prostitution.
How long are we going to stay poor, how long will Sierra Leone be the poorest country when it is very rich geographically; how long are we going to be burying our young brothers and sisters due to lack of health care? How long are we going to be paid salaries like slaves? How long will this poverty last? These are questions that I ask myself everyday, but I still don’t have the answers to them. May God Almighty come to our rescue before it’s too late.