United We Stand, Divided We Fall

 

More than any other time in our 57 years chequered post-independence history should we Sierra Leoneans prove to ourselves and the outside world in thoughts, words and deeds that we are committed to ensuring that Unity, Freedom and Justice reign in our land by coming together solidly as a nation to push forward development. Still rated as one of the poorest countries in the world, we have a lot to learn as a people from the many failures, frustrations and sufferings that we have been subjected to since we decided on April 27th 1961 to take our destiny into our own hands.

Since that time, had we embraced each other like brothers and sisters, and worked conscientiously like the Singaporeans and Malaysians have done to better ourselves and our country? By now, with the abundance of natural resources that God endowed our land with, Sierra Leone would have been rated amongst the ten richest countries in the world if those resources were judiciously managed with no Sierra Leonean having to suffer the shame and dishonor of being a wretched, miserable economic refugee struggling to eke a bare existence in the ghettoes of America, Europe, Australia, Middle East, Asia or other parts of Africa.

Time for us to realize that instability due to hatred cannot bring prosperity to our country. When we look at it closely, what is responsible for Almighty God kind of forsaking us to a miserable existence is because we do not love each other as we are supposed to do. This we have manifested since the 1960s in hate-filled politics. This bad mind and bad heart that we have for each other culminated in the calamity of the eleven years civil war that further condemned us into the realms of the wretched of the earth. It is high time we learnt our lesson that united we stand, divided we fall.

With barely 7 million people and an abundance of resources, let us ask ourselves: why are we still poor and always begging for leftovers from the table of the rich in Europe, America and Asia? Is it not time we stood up as a nation and determine to stand tall and be proud among the community of nations? We can but only if we lay aside the tribal, regional and political party chauvinism that prevents us from coming together as one to work out our collective destiny. If we avoid tribalism, regionalism, hate speech and the politics of us versus them that has characterized our behavior towards each other since the 1960s, we can arrive at a higher plateau of tolerance and common understanding that will build the foundation for rapid national development as we will be working for each other, not against each other.

Let us learn from the history of modern European nations – France, Italy Germany, Britain, etc. Let us learn from the history of the great United States of America, China, Japan, Korea, etc. It is only when they became united, embraced the spirit of nationalism and patriotism that they were able to successfully embark on the road to development and prosperity. The same is true in Africa of Ethiopia, Rwanda, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and Ghana. United we stand, divided we fall. This caution should ring in our ears day and night if we are to transcend out current divisiveness and come together in peace, love and harmony to push our country’s development forward.

A fixed warped mindset about each other along tribal and regional lines has prevented us for decades from coming together as one to push the country’s development forward. In other to pave fresh ground for development, let us start by preaching peace from the pulpits and our radio stations instead of preaching xenophobia, hate and confrontation. Let us encourage each other at home and abroad to always think Sierra Leone first and to portray a positive image of our country to foreigners as Nigerians and Ghanaians who are always proud of their country do by displaying their flags in their vehicles and homes.

What is the use of us admiring America and other developed countries when they did not become what they are by magic but through unity and hard work? With the same progressive attitude to our country, we can be admired like those countries. Our mindset is the greatest hindrance to development. For example, you see many Sierra Leoneans from poor God-forsaken homes, who when they have the opportunity to go abroad and good fortune favors them do not want to be identified as Sierra Leoneans; whereas Ghanaians and Nigerians when they succeed abroad, the first thing they think of is to return home ad help their poor brothers and sisters and to invest in their country.

As it is, President Bio’s government has introduced the free education program, in the same way former President Koroma introduced the free health scheme for mothers and children under five. Both of these initiatives do not benefit the two political parties that they belong to alone but the entire nation. That is how we should see development and support whichever president and government that is in power because they work to benefit the entire nation.

Hate for each other will slow down development. Government is continuity. For our country to develop rapidly, it is imperative that we change our negative mindset about our leaders and ourselves and adopt one of open mindedness and respect for each other. The goodness we want for ourselves we should also want for our fellow Sierra Leoneans. Right now President Bio is in China to appeal to the Chinese president and people to continue assisting Sierra Leone in its development efforts. The Finance Minister JJ Saffa has been to UAE and will join the president in China in the government’s continued bid to seek more capital assistance for development. They are not on these missions as members of SLPP but as members of the government of the people of Sierra Leone. Thus, as Sierra Leoneans who desire our country to developed and be admired by others, we should support development brought to us by any political party that is in power – That way we can continue to move forward progressively.

In all what we do, thinking of the ‘algbalao’ that befell us between 1991 and 2002, let us always remember as Sierra Leoneans that: united we stand, divided we fall.

Lonta.