Whatever religious position one takes, it is crystal clear that creation and nature did not come about through any process of democracy. To me religion itself has faith as a very strong pillar rather than any objective analysis or facts.
Nobody in this world was consulted on where he or she should be born…whose womb, which country, hospital or climate. Given the small size of Sierra Leone with barely about six million people having up to sixteen ethnic groups, then you wonder how illogical nature looks at proportionality or isn’t it?
Why do we have to worry about why we are Koranko, Susu, Limba, Kono, Kissy, Loko, Madingo, Fullah, Mende or Temne? I am looking forward to the day when we have names like Hindolo Bangura, Bomkapr Lahai, Ebiola Sillah and the like.
Part of the ethnic problems we have today have to do with the colonial and immediate post colonial era during which majority tribes suppressed minority ones and made the latter very inferior. In primary school some of us suffered a lot of humiliation simply because of links with one minority tribe or another. Take my case…I suffered in the hands of the 100% Mendes since my father was Mende but a Kissi mother and stayed with a Kissi uncle while in primary school even though we topped our classes.
Generally the Mende lauded it over the Kono and Kissy, the Temne lauded it over the Limba and Loko – then both Mende and Temne suppressed the Fullah, Madingo and the rest of the other ethnic groups. This was so serious that many minority tribes converted themselves into either Temne or Mende. This explains why you have more Kissi, Kono, Loko and Limba speaking Temne or Mende than the other way round. In the Western Area it was no different…provincial tribes took Krio names even when they could not speak the language very well. This is why you will come across somebody called Ayodele Wilson who can hardly speak Krio with the correct accent. At College some take their original names like from Bryan Johnson to Kanku Bonkura or from Hazel Davies to Ndapi Kutubu.
All this would have been all right if the whole issue of ethnicity has not been given a huge political ramification. Alongside this is the wrong notion that because you hale from the east and south you are SLPP and if you’re from the north you are APC! This author has lived in Kenema for seven years and always had problems with people after some socio political analysis done on the Eastern Radio. Honestly in the heartlands of the two main political parties you can ill afford to be neutral or objective. Political intolerance was grossly manifested in party strongholds and campaigners did not have unhindered access to areas known to be the domain of another party.
Now what do we do about the situation? This brings to mind what a prominent lady either from CGG or 50-50 Group mooted recently that political parties should be remade and renamed. This is definitely possible at the end of a term of office. How?
A two year interim government could be set up of credible men and women.
Then criteria could be set for the formation of new parties funded by government and limited to at most five. The criteria should ensure a regional and tribal balance. Like that lady said Nigeria did it at a stage in their political development. This is actually operating outside the box … if you see what I mean.
One advantage could be diverting focus from ethnicity to ideology or development plans. This of course will depend on our political maturity.
One area we have to watch is the capacity of regulating and compliance structures like the PPRC to be seen as functional in a robust manner.
What we know is that all the top parties have sinned and indeed fallen short of the glory of democracy. I wonder whether any one of the parties heeded the yelling of PPRC for them to report on their finances and other statutory obligations inconformity with the electoral laws of the land.
But generally people don’t want to account …PPRC knows this and thus its hands remain tied as they say. They know full well that you cannot bite the finger that feeds you. May be the Constitutional Draft Commission needs to look into the appointment of commissioners. Should it stay with the presidency or what?
All these are situations that create room for tribalism and regionalism. It is funny to say but the whole idea of partisan politics breeds a lot of hate and
violence. Perhaps we have to look for an alternative to partisan politics. Yoweri Musoveni calls it the non-party system.
The issue of ethnicity and regionalism has become more complicated now as a lot of people see Sierra Leone in a North-Western APC and South-Eastern
SLPP divide. This only compounds the whole anti- party feeling that is growing now in the nation’s capital, Freetown … freely vandalizing, true to its name.
Which ever way we look at it since we cannot change our ethnicity for now we should learn to be tolerant … build enough shock absorbers to cushion off opponent attacks. To aid this we should all learn to smile lavishly to people we interact with every day. Did you know that we all smile in the same language? There is no Loko smile or Fullah smile…do you see the point?
By S. Beny SAM