Many may say Independence Day should be one of reflection. Reflection of what has been achieved since the departure of the colonialists. Save that for our grandfathers and fathers because the youth are supposed to live on hope. But verily I say unto my fellow country folks (I refused to use ‘man’ because of gender sensitivity), a man who keeps reflecting on the past forgetting about the future is doomed to fail in the present.
Am I double speaking? No? Should I carry on? Yes? Ok. Gone are those days when primary school pupils were clad in their ‘Sunday’ shoes or ‘Friday mukay’, given little Green White and Blue flags to wave as the national anthem slapped the airwaves while the Head of State spoke or was about to speak or had just given his Independence Day message.
As Sierra Leone celebrates her 47th birthday on April 27th , many parents and guardians will not be cladding their kids in their ‘Sunday’ or ‘Friday’ best or their teachers giving them little Green White and Blue flags, but will be concerned with their economic status at home or in their houses.
The economic situation in the country is going on the down-and down with many Sierra Leoneans at home unable to afford half an un-square meal a day. In terms of most people’s political expectation: the ratio is zero to zilch!
How can we, as a nation, celebrate or commemorate when the stomachs and pockets of the bulk of the citizens are empty? How can we celebrate or commemorate when the price of rice is rocketing for the heavens? Or when would-be fuel crisis is hanging over this nation like the sword of Damocles? Can you celebrate when you are freshly out of a job or you don’t have a job? Can you celebrate when your kids are half-starving? And how can any sane person celebrate in a country where a loaf of “Fullahman” bread cannot even scare away the little worms in our stomachs!
Yea, hit them hard Mr Sankoh! The opposition might say. But to play Lucifer’s advocate; the rice and would-be fuel crises are global phenomena. They are beyond Sierra Leone’s grasp. They are forces we cannot control as a nation. The World Food Organisation is concerned about food shortage the world over. The World Labour Organisation is concerned about the rise of global unemployment. OPEC members are concerned about fuel crisis worldwide and are looking forward to biofuel. The United States of America is being threatened by recession. Some countries in West, East and South Africa and elsewhere in the world have faced mass demonstrations over food crises.
But the food shortage tsunami is yet to hit Sierra Leone as hard as other countries because we, as a nation, have the ‘audacity of hope’, in the words of US Democratic Party’s presidential hopeful Barack Obama. We have built our faiths not on religion as those million-and-one Handclapping-alleluia-amening-speaking-in-tongue churches might profess from their pulpits or from what those many turbaned-and-bearded Imams have been blaring from their minarets. We have built our faith on hope.
We have been a hopeful nation in spite of the many religious apocalyptic prophesies about the last days. It was this same hope which made Sierra Leoneans in 1967 kicked the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) out of power. It was this same hope that made Sierra Leoneans jubilant in 1992 when the All People’s Congress (APC) was overthrown by the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC). It was this same hope that led Sierra Leoneans to opt for Election Before Peace during the NPRC regime in 1996. It was this same hope that made people defied the Armed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC) in 1997 to re-usher democracy. It was hope that led to the outcome of the September 8 2008 run-off.
Despite in some of our hopelessness and dispiritedness because of the state of affairs in present day Sierra Leone, we should still be hopeful as the country celebrates its 47th birthday on April 27th. As Moses J. Johnson, the Programmes Coordinator of the International Non Governmental Organisation in Sierra Leone, Right To Play, once says: “the day you lose hope should be the day you are supposed to die.”
But die as a nation we will not! Despite the global potpourri of rice and fuel crises, unemployment and other economic phenomena, Sierra Leone should be celebrating her Independence on the theme of hope. By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop)