Reflections on 61 years of Sierra Leone’s ‘Independence’ – Welcome to the Sierra Leone Telegraph

Alhaji U. N’jai: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 April 2022:

I first wrote this piece 4 years in the past in 2018 and represented my introspection on the state of the nation Sierra Leone at 57. It was additionally a time of nice optimism because the nation had simply ushered within the new route authorities of President Julius Maada Bio.

Expectations throughout the nation the place excessive that the brand new Bio led administration will right among the wrongs of the earlier governments. It has been my fervent need that a lot of the narrative on this piece would have modified for the higher within the final 4 years, however sadly aside from few areas, it appears to have largely tilted in direction of the more serious.

So why has President Bio’s New Direction failed to this point in its effort to create significant modifications within the lives of common Sierra Leoneans. Why has earlier governments from Milton Margai, Siaka Stevens, Joseph Momoh, Valentine Strasser, Ahmed Tejan Kabba to Ernest Bai Koroma additionally failed to take action, and woefully?

Why is poverty ‘d gron dry’ and abject meals poverty nonetheless a significant component in a land of plentiful pure assets with a inhabitants lower than eight million? Why has the nation grow to be a spot the place desires of younger folks die and wither out as they gray with out realizing them?

Why does it seem to be we’re retrogressing moderately than progressing so far as high quality of life is anxious? Is it one thing borne out of the folks – aka the unhealthy coronary heart? Is it a management deficit? Is it that we lack true transformational management? Is it widespread greed, lip service and systemic corruption? Is it politics and ethnic polarization? Is it the shortage of ideology with our politics? Is it the shortage of prioritization of what’s necessary?

Is it that we lack patriotism and fundamental civic duties like integrity, empathy, honesty, mindfulness? Is it the shortage of functionality and capability or is it as a result of incompetency is rewarded? Is it as a result of mediocrity has taken middle stage and excellence has been marginalized? Is it attributable to our colonial and neo-colonial legacies?

Is it due to our perennial dependencies on exterior donors/buyers for our improvement? Is it that we lack possession and sustainability plans in our improvement agenda? Is it our instructional curriculum that has not been absolutely decolonized and domesticated to our wants?

I merely should not have the solutions, nonetheless, to grasp the roots of our present-day situation, historic antecedent issues.

Today, April twenty seventh, 2022, Sierra Leone as a nation turns 61. Celebrations throughout the nation to mark Independence Day have grow to be a ordinary custom. There is nothing unhealthy with fellow Sierra Leoneans celebrating Independence. After all, our colonial period started with the British Crown Colony institution in 1808 and annexation of the whole nation by way of institution of a British Protectorate in 1896.

Colonial period was a interval of harsh, crude, and inhumane de-culturation of our folks. All types of resistance together with Bai Bureh and plenty of others have been met and crushed with heavy power.

So, in 1961, Sierra Leone gained independence, thanks partially to our lethal mosquitoes that made it insufferable for the British, and partially to the steadfast endeavors of our many ancestor’s nationalists from throughout the nation, who organized themselves below the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP).

The nation was ushered into Independence by Sir Milton Margai of the SLPP, who was thought-about a “nice person” and a “good leader” on the time. Mr. Margai, although a pleasant gentleman then, lacked the transformative imaginative and prescient to carve a novel decolonization route and nationwide agenda for Sierra Leone past the British legacy. As a outcome, the formation of a real nationwide agenda was changed by political occasion and regional agenda, which updated continues to plague nationwide improvement efforts.

Sixty-one years later, we’re as dependent as ever; dependent mentally, psychologically, socially, economically, politically, scientifically, technologically, and in all issues thought-about. Is it Happy free dependence day? Are we as a rustic Sierra Leone free, politically, economically, and culturally? The argument may very well be made that we’re free politically, in as a lot as we’re ‘freely electing’ and altering governments.

This then brings me to the core of why I selected to merely simply replicate on the day, what our ancestors needed to undergo below colonial rule, and the way they should be turning of their graves from our failures and lack of route to guide our societies to prosperity.

I typically replicate on this ancestral curse and our lack of ability to fully decolonize ourselves resulting in new types of colonialism, imperialism, slavery, low vanity, and discount to beggar donor pushed nations. It was Patrice Lumumba who famously mentioned that “the Belgian’s have granted us (Zaire now Democratic Republic of Congo) political independence on the one hand and the other taken economic independence away from us.” These phrases maintain true to this present day, political independence minus financial independence.

The query to be requested immediately is, are we as unbiased nations politically, culturally, and economically free.? Can we re-write our historical past with a brand new paradigm that has Sierra Leone and Africa’s pursuits entrance and middle? If improvement is modernization minus dependency, can we assert that true improvement is happening?

Let us revisit the case for political independence close to the nation state and political dispensation in Sierra Leone. In 1884, 14 European Countries gathered in Berlin to partition Africa amongst themselves. No African or nation was invited. Today European Union (EU) is sending observers to Sierra Leone and different African Elections to guarantee that the colonial hegemony continues within the nice disguise of democracy.

In the psycho-affective realm of funding our elections, financial and cultural emancipation are by no means the consideration. It merely ensures the colonialists unfettered entry and management of the colony’s pure assets and political economic system.

What we merely have within the final 61 years in Sierra Leone is a sort of outdated wine in new bottles paradigm and a welcome to neo-colonialism, the British Sovereign Club aka Commonwealth membership. All elements of our lives have been and continues to be “Britishmanism” with colonial acculturation to the best diploma. The similar colonial training with restricted connections to our cultural expertise; usual colonial legal guidelines and authorized techniques for a distinct cultural expertise; similar financial techniques which might be largely extractive, exploitative, and geared in direction of supporting our British Colonial or western societies.

There isn’t any emphasis or makes an attempt at financial emancipation from the colonial grasp or creating alternatives and the situations for native financial stimulation or increase that creates wealth and thriving wholesome society. Rather we have now grow to be perennially depending on donors, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), or World Bank loans, and a complete host of non-governmental organizations, and international nations serving to us run our nation.

This international domination syndrome is aptly captured by Dr. Y.Okay. Amoako of the UN Commission for Africa Executive Secretary “Africa is the only region in the world where foreign development paradigms dominate her development process.” Not solely does this point out that Africa’s improvement course of is just not “culturally close” to Africans, but additionally a revelation that African elites are mediocre in each their intellectualizing and their route of the continent’s progress.”

Indeed, that mental mediocrity together with a heavy affinity and style for the colonial life-style has grow to be endemic, permeating all sides of our cultural area. In truth, the character of westernization and acculturation in Sierra Leone and plenty of different African nations surpasses all areas of the world.

Prof. Ali A. Mazrui succinctly describes the character of westernization in Africa as in comparison with the Japanese expertise, “the character of westernization in Africa has been very totally different. Far from emphasizing western productive expertise and decreasing western life and verbal tradition, Africa has reversed the Japanese order of emphasis.

Among the elements which have facilitated this reversal has been the function of the African college as a automobile of Western affect on African tradition.” Yes, the African University and techniques of training that emphasizes western tradition and life as superior to the African manner has performed an enormous function.

There has been restricted emphasis on indigenization or domestication of modernization based mostly on our habits, norms, and worth techniques. In truth, we have now merely handed our colonial masters or the west possession of information and any type of intellectualization course of. Our knowledgebase techniques are inadequate, archaic and don’t meet fashionable requirements.

For any African knowledgebase in Science, Arts, Engineering, Literature, History, Humanities, and the likes to be accepted, it should have a colonial grasp or western validation or seal of approval. We “the colonized” have now been diminished to accepting this as our destiny, a sort of establishment that we can’t change. Hence, we stay impotent, disable and unable to successfully change the course of the colonial grasp.

You can’t blame our present leaders for being retrogressive since their minds are nonetheless closely colonized. Colonization has clouded their minds to the extent that they lack the know-how and wherewithal for true sustainable improvement that requires as in Japan’s domestication of modernization and indigenization. Hence, the one manner out for a lot of is steady dependence on western nations and ties such because the commonwealth, UN, or Francophone.

We are so colonized that we rejoice our Sierra Leone or African leaders assembly and eating with the Queen of London. African leaders attending Commonwealth summit and eating with Queen is a sucker punch within the face for all Africans, particularly our African ancestors who suffered the wreath of British colonial rule. A colonial loot, the Queen continues to take pleasure in on the expense of us Africans.

The commonwealth has by no means been frequent, and it’s wealth stolen from Africa, India and others. This is our wealth and should be given again to Africa, India, and all the place it was forcibly looted or the place we have been sheepishly brainwashed with the phantasm that human capital improvement comes with western training as within the elementary faculty lyrics “we are all going to our classes with clean hands and faces, to pay great attention to what we are told. Or else we shall never be happy and clever; for learning is better than silver and gold.” This lyric represents each a superficial educational assertion and a ploy by the colonialist to loot our gold, silver and diamond in alternate for some western brainwashed training that lacks commerce or entrepreneurship.

In essence, we bought elitism instead of rural agriculture and feeding ourselves, our silver and gold ended of their palms, and we proceed to obey them in a hegemonic grasp and servant relationship.

The relationship ought to now not be considered one of grasp and colonized. It must be based mostly on equal partnership and never “Laybelleh” relationship. If that relationship should proceed, we should tackle the management. This is now not time for Queen/royal household and colonial topics. It’s about full decolonization and forging our personal paths in addition to future.

And decolonization means full decolonization and never changing one colonist with one other aka China, India or others. Frantz Fanon should be turning round in his grave from the belief that the whole decolonization from the colonizer has not occurred since Wretched of the Earth got here out in 1961. Indeed, if Frantz Fanon was alive immediately, he would have seen an Africa that’s largely unbiased from the colonizer however an Africa nonetheless at struggle with itself captured superbly in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.

The colonizer could also be gone however the colonized thoughts continues to be with us, and we’re at struggle with ourselves. The totality of being a Sierra Leonean and an African will include decolonization of the thoughts. This strategy of decolonization is liberating and aligns the thoughts to the physique physique. We breathe once more as Sierra Leoneans with a renewed vigor and sense of objective to successfully make the most of our assets for social good.

The nation state of Sierra Leone nonetheless suffers from the residual results of colonialism and systemic racism that now apparently intersect with poor management, corruption, greed, mediocrity, brief sightedness and lack of transformational imaginative and prescient, ethnic based mostly (polarization) politics. Over 130 years of colonialism and systemic racism in Sierra Leone sowed the seeds of self-hate and self-doubt.

We all have been conditioned to hate ourselves; to hate our darkish skins; to hate ourselves based mostly on imaginary nationwide boundaries of colonial assemble. We are Sierra Leoneans, Guineans, Liberians, Gambians, Senegalese, Malians divided by a colonial assemble regardless of sturdy household and ethnic ties. The Ebola virus illness taught us the onerous lesson that we’re all related as a folks, however we proceed to work in silos and consistent with our colonial masters (Sierra Leone with Britain, Liberia with US, and Guinea with France).

We can’t get ECOWAS or Mano River Union to work for us and deal with frequent points merely due to colonial allegiances. As a nation state, we follow democracy based mostly on ethnic numbers and self-hate; we elect our political leaders, rent and hearth folks based mostly on ethnic sentiments and variations; we care much less whether or not our actions harm others or communities, if we understand them to be totally different.

We have in impact tied useful resource allocation to ethnicity or political tribes and sooner or later, weaponized tribalism as a mechanism of oppressing progressive voices, which have in impact held us as nationwide hostages. As Frantz Fanon, notes “there is always a danger of the nation states in Africa to disintegrate along ethnic lines”.
National Consciousness and a National Agenda must be borne out of the concerted motion of the folks, which embodies the precise aspirations of the folks and transforms the state, which is dependent upon exceptionally creative cultural manifestations for its very existence.

In the post-colonial African states, all elements of our conventional African worth techniques have been changed by the values and even vices of the colonizer and their neo-liberal allies. First, Greed and particular person materials self-interests replaces the standard communal sharing techniques; Britishmanism, Frenchmanism, and Europeamanisms have grow to be the order of the day.

Second, African training techniques changed by a colonial western formal training that has enhanced each educational (Science, expertise, engineering, arts, arithmetic, and humanities) and cultural dependency, subsequently every little thing African needs to be evaluated and validated from a Eurocentric lens, the tradition of dominance and energy; This has basically led to the crave for levels and educational titles even pretend ones just like the Yea Dominion University saga in Sierra Leone.

Third, long-sighted visionary and transformational Panafrican Independence leaders changed by mediocre leaders, whose shortsightedness are loved by the western donors or colonialists because it ensures the chain of dependency and unfettered entry to Africa’s assets is maintained.

Fourth, African conventional pluralistic religions changed by monotheism and powerful tendencies for dichotomy; you’re both Christian or not, Muslim or not, and no tendency to mix them. By distinction, African conventional religions are much less dichotomous, much less monotheistic, and are readily accepting of different religions, which permits for better plurality and acceptance of range.

Fifth, African ingenuity, self-reliance, and financial exercise changed by donor funding, international investments (world financial institution, IMF), International NGOs, international help, multinational investments, and number of half-sighted neoliberal international financial fashions which might be unsustainable, inimical to the African wants, and ensures financial dependency. Therefore, continental Africans proceed to be trapped in some type of neo-colonialism, systemic racism, mediocre leaderships, ethnic polarization, and dependency, respectively. In the identical vein, the vicious cycle of poverty, despair, violence, wars, and underdevelopment has taken maintain in communities and nations. The divide and rule actions of the oppressor additionally makes it inconceivable for unity of the oppressed African folks; a lot of whom are caught up in self-hate, ethnic rivalries, disunity, and distorted views of their very own histories supplied by the identical oppressors bent on maintaining them aside.

So, at 61 years of independence, Sierra Leone is considerably of a paradox. A nation with large pure and human assets potentials that has proven deep resilience by way of struggle, lethal Ebola epidemic, landslide, and Covid19. But, sadly as a nation, we’re as dependent as ever, we’re as hungry (meals poor and insecure) as ever, we’re as corrupt as ever, and we’re ranked amongst lowest in human improvement index throughout Africa regardless of being one of the naturally endowed within the continent.

In the final 30 years of the 60 years of “Independence”, we have now grow to be the land of survivors or moderately the tasteless simulacrum of desolate dwelling requirements. Yes oh, War Survivors, Ebola Survivors, Landslide Survivors, Tollgate Survivors, Austerity Survivors, Deforestation and Timber logging Survivors, Okada Survivors, WASSCE Exam Survivors, No Job Survivors, Job with no pay Survivors, Trafficking or Kuwait Survivors, Suck Air Survivors, Beggar Beggar Survivors, Political Rally Survivors, Police Brutality Survivors, Foreign Debt Survivors, Temple Run Survivors, Inflation Survivors, Fake Degrees Survivors, and All Things Considered Survivors, Blackout Survivor, and so forth.

The Temple Run and Middle East Trafficking Survivors simply merely re-iterates the shortage of hope in Sierra Leone for younger folks. How can we as a nation rejoice independence when a major proportion will moderately die within the Mediterranean seas off Libya than stay right here. People are risking all of it, together with been offered as slaves in Libya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar or different nations simply to depart. Migration within the unbiased state must be about selection and hope.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres properly states that “migration should be an active hope, and not despair.” Yet, in Sierra Leone these hopes have now been changed by despair and act of survivorship aka “we dae manage” has grow to be normalized. Survivorship and hardships introduced on by greed, corruption, energy intoxication by politicians and management that’s as narcissistic and vainglorious as ever. Hence, clouded by the narcissism and need for public reward the place there’s none, Politicians need the poor ignorant victims of their loot to thank them for making roads, hospitals, and offering fundamental providers for which they’re elected to make occur. It’s typically as if they’re doing the populace a favor and naturally it really works effectively as a result of they’ve succeeded in maintaining the populace ignorant by way of a failed academic system.

Apart from a failed academic system that has put mediocrity on the middle and marginalized excellence, we’re a nation and not using a holistic transportation resolution, meals safety resolution, entry to moveable water provide, power or electrical energy (nonetheless combating lighting a bulb but alone industrial power regardless of plentiful hydro, photo voltaic and different renewable potentials), tourism (regardless of lovely mountains, landscapes, seashores, and unimaginable biodiversity), well being care and public well being (case administration is so poor {that a} fundamental situation requires a visit to Ghana and maternal mortality stays one of many highest within the area), and so forth.

Freetown, the capital metropolis is basically unplanned, dangerous and unsafe from uncontrolled sprawl, deforestation and environmental degradation. Despite the formation of a Ministry of Environment and 4 businesses coping with setting, our treasured forest assets are being depleted for timber at an alarming price within the north and successive governments appear unable to guard our environments.

Ironically, our leaders journey to Climate change conferences, are signatories to local weather change accords, and nonetheless drive V8 SUVs and do nothing to guard our environments. Instead, they’re busy promoting treasured pure habitats like Black Johnson to shady buyers and busy touring with out regards to their carbon footprint, within the identify of attracting buyers.

Interestingly, shady buyers are all too conscious of the dysfunctionality of our state techniques and greed among the many political elites. Hence for brief time period beneficial properties by our leaderships, shady buyers can reap large income on the expense of the indigenous folks.

Lack of political ideology accounts for among the greed, unscrupulous exploitation of the plenty by shady buyers, and lack of a transformational imaginative and prescient. In truth, since Independence in Sierra Leone, the one ideology that appears to function is ‘now we turn for eat’; largely between APC versus SLPP.

For the final 61 years, we have now been held hostage by the 2 thieves (APC and SLPP) and the ideology of ‘now we turn for eat’ by their supporters. Yet, we love our hostage takers (APC and SLPP) akin to the Stockholm Syndrome; are keen to guard them and vote for them constantly. This in flip creates vicious cycles of looting, deepens mediocrity, retrogression, and decadence.

Our present political techniques in Sierra Leone bereft of a viable political ideology can’t yield financial freedom, self-reliance, and the required cultural empowerments wanted for domestication of improvement. For instance, how can we stimulate native manufacturing to attenuate our dependencies on imports of fundamental commodities like rice, flour, and meals stuffs. How can we eat what we develop and develop what we eat, decreasing our exterior dependencies? How do empower use of native constructing supplies and indigenous architectures, and thereby reduce importation of cements, which additionally has a excessive carbon footprint and unhealthy for local weather?

True sustainable improvement in Sierra Leone requires political, financial, and cultural independence. In different phrases, a whole decolonization of our minds, establishments, buildings, and features. It requires a paradigm shift that places our Sierra Leone/African values entrance and middle “an inward thinking and outward outlook approach.”

Thinking first from inside African values, nationwide agendas and matching African values with the enabling elements of their colonial legacies and the worldwide values. In addition, intellectually linking our Sierra Leonean and African values to the broader world of scholarship, science, engineering, and expertise.

To break the cycle of dependency in Sierra Leone and throughout Africa, might require nothing in need of a revolution, a break with present capitalist buildings that ensures western hegemonic dominance. The sequence of revolutions that received’t be televised, ought to on the very least embody; a Blue Intellectual revolution from which new sources of information ought to emerge; a inexperienced revolution for meals safety, better management of Sierra Leone/Africa’s pure assets; a black revolution that culturally empowers Sierra Leoneans; a crimson revolution that creates sturdy sense of nationwide consciousness, unity, id, and cohesion, that hyperlinks younger and outdated by way of mentorship, service, volunteerism, tasks, and cultural training; a yellow revolution that ushers industrialization and wealth creation; and a white, pink, purple, orange, and so revolutions that ensues all elements of self-reliance and sustainability are attained.

Ultimately, Sierra Leone requires improvement that’s carefully aligned with our cultural area, financial emancipation and taking possession of our assets in any respect levels of the worth chain. It requires creativeness, imaginative and prescient and constructing capability in any respect ranges, features, and disciplines within the nation. This finally requires constructing a robust University system and domesticating fashionable techniques to go well with native wants or modernizing from native techniques and structure. However, it finally requires a novel African management and governance that’s devoid of corruption, greed and may put ahead daring, transformational, phenomenal imaginative and prescient for the nation to make a distinction in lives in any respect ages and the construct resilient thriving inhabitants and communities.

Finally, as Fanon places its aptly in The Wretched of the Earth, “Imperialism leaves behind germs of rot which we must clinically detect and remove from our land but from our minds as well.” Therefore, to realize full and whole liberation of the African folks would require unification of ideas, financial freedom, self-reliance, and politically highly effective Africa.

An economically and politically highly effective federated Africa (together with the Diaspora) will restore the dignity of its folks and make sure that it assets are utilized to the advantages of its folks and protect the various cultures of its folks.

We should work in direction of a collective nationwide and continental agenda for Sierra Leone and Africa, decolonize our techniques, de-link useful resource allocation alongside occasion or ethnic traces and chorus from using tribalism as a weapon of mass oppression that favors the bourgeoisie class elites strangle maintain of energy.

We should now as particular person residents of Sierra Leone and as a authorities retrospect on what’s our National Agenda. We should try for a nationwide id and oneness borne out of patriotism and tradition that’s seen and felt by everybody.

About the creator

Alhaji Umar N’jai is a Senior Scientist, Professor, Panafrican Scholar, Founder & Chief Strategist of Project 1808, Inc., and Freelance author ‘Roaming in the Mountains of Kabala Republic’. #Jata #Meejoh #ThePeoplesScientist

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