Haunted dreams: Changing our attitudes
On 27 April 1961, Sir Milton Margai led Sierra Leone to independence from Great Britain and became the country’s first Prime Minister.
On this very day, our nation stands proud, the future is certain, the young and old exchanges pleasantries: no more colonists!
Our vision is a Sierra Leone that will stand out in Africa. Be the pacesetter in education, peace and cultural tolerance.
Yes! Be the pacesetter in education, peace and cultural tolerance.
The drums and my ancestors are my witnesses that we meant well, only that I am not sharing the harvest with my brothers and sisters. I take everything for myself and children!
I lack the energy that made my ancestors warriors of men and women. I look low on the traditions and cultures that make me who I am and always dressed in false colours, ashamed to identify my nationality.
Yes! On 27 April 1961, Sir Milton Margai led Sierra Leone to freedom. For us to be ourselves, support one another, under one flag.
A transition without bloodshed! The Union Jack slowly goes down!
Expectations high and nationalism trumpeted, school children trek the long distances parading the new national flag.
Yes! Our Green, White and Blue!
A memory to treasure and I always do.
When I hear the story, it tastes like nectar. Only that it doesn’t taste long for the characters in the story started changing shapes, like chameleons, the colours mimicking my selfish thought!
And the values already in place started to disappear, and disappear in the silence of the drums as the sun sets.
Today I cry down my country and refuse to contribute to nation building. I fuel fires of tribalism and regionalism and always prepared and willing to disturb processes of national development.
I am the man of the people. I speak their tongue and they trust me. Only that, I am not what they think I am. I stole their money when I was in governance; I am still doing what I am good at since the day I divorced the Union Jack!
But what else can they do?
I am the child of the paramount chief, I am from an affluence family and I travel the world. I am a lawyer. I am a doctor. The president is my friend, and the permanent secretary is my in-law! Ha Ha Ha.
Indeed these poor illiterate people don’t have an option. Who can speak better English than I do? Ha Ha Ha!
I am a graduate of Fourah Bay College. The Athens of West Africa!
When I walk around town the women fight over me and poor illiterate men cower.
This is it. This is the mentality, a mentality of destruction and wickedness.
How many children should die of curable diseases before our government take action for affordable and accessible healthcare for all Sierra Leoneans?
How many more women and girls should be raped, molested and denied economic rights before the government prioritises women’s rights in society.
How many girls in tertiary education should be exploited by lecturers before they get their grades?
How many crying faces should continue to die in silence before pragmatic economic actions are taken to stop economic rape and torture?
I am in a muddle. I don’t know if I should laud the history or cry over the present. For I see through the eyes of my ancestors and my dear self. I saw hope, determination and happiness, and I see despair, apathy and tears.
I used to dance in undulation of cultural beats and dreams filled with nectar but today I awake with nightmares, dreams too terrible to explain.
I am angry and bitter and think I have a right to kill my people for power because I must rule. Yes! I am born to rule. I am born with the ATTITUDE!
Can I hold your hand and wash away my sorrow? Can we dance and be merry. I am feeling drunk with economic broth! How I wish I can change my ATTITUDE.
Sometimes in my quite moment, I dream for good governance and better opportunity for all. But I am just sick. Sick, sick, sick, sick! Lazy, parasite, bootlicker, and economic disruptor.
Am angry and bitter. Bitter and angry, the water pot no longer keeps the broth cool. It is warm and I am thirsty.
Look at me! Look into my eyes!
What do you see? Ha Ha Ha. What do you see?
You are seeing you in me and me in you!
A feverish child sick with malaria. A hungry child walking barefoot to school. A homeless child begging in the streets for food. An abused girl crying for justice. Papa just physically battered mama.you, you, you, you in me!
You are perpetrating all the abuse and violence in society. You steal the seeds kept for the planting season. You, you, you, you are the one because you are conniving with me to steal public money. You commended me for sexually abusing the poor widow’s teenage girl who wanted money to buy medicine for her mother.
I am still seeing the tears running down her face.
Yes! On this very DAY, April 27, the drums celebrated! You were there. I was there. And you and I continue to outlive our people, suffocating their livelihood and embezzling monies meant for schools, hospitals, water facilities, and the pots to cook their bread and butter.
Oh. Lest I forget, the Athens of West Africa produced academics throughout Africa and Sierra Leone was a centre for Academia in the region: Nigeria, Ghana, and even producing academics for countries in the Caribbean.
But what has the roost made for the chick?
I am still boasting about my “Athens of West Africa’ when there is nothing I can point at as practical evidence of her contribution to macro-economic growth.
Wow! I catch you! I see you, you see me! Ha Ha Ha.
Oh, hm. Universities in Nigeria and Ghana today boast of creating scientific, medical and engineering platforms for local economic growth, relying on their universities to look for solutions to local problems.
But what are we doing? Relying on minerals that continue to deny me good pipe borne water? Bauxite, diamonds, gold, iron ore, you name the others and tell me what mining has contributed to nation building since 1961.
Na Ernest Bai Koroma don poil d country! Na Pa Kabbah, na NPRC, na Pa Siaka!
Always the politicians, and always the poor youths, yes o, the poor vulnerable young people who are always willing and ready to be bribed and supplied with drugs to put into action the whispers of the literate affluence few.
On this very DAY, the drums celebrated!
For I see both in the eyes of my ancestors and my dear self. I saw hope, determination and happiness. I also see despair, apathy and tears.
Please don’t blame me because I sound mad. It is because I am intoxicated with economic broth. I am the nursing sister who refuses to treat a poor woman because she cannot afford the medical fee. It turns out she’s my sister.
Why should I mind? I can report for work when I feel. My cousin is a minister.
I am afraid to say this. I am only whispering. You see that man yonder there? He is the main man! Just give him the parcel everything will be OK.
But there is hope. Just when I believe I am invisible I realise I am a fool! You are a fool, as I am too! Ha Ha Ha.
You are the hope. You are young, handsome and beautiful. I am your mirror. I can feel the tremor, the energy in you, boiling, boiling like magma to erupt.
I can tell you want to celebrate the Day but you are hungry and homeless. I can tell in your eyes the suffering I have put you through. I am sorry.
I hope you will not judge me for I will never judge you, but wait. Can I look into your eyes again and wipe the tears? Will you accept my apology for the wrongs I have done or will I accept yours?
But wait. Am I saying these words? Do I mean what I am saying? Ha Ha Ha.
Happy Independent Anniversary and a better and prosperous Sierra Leone!
By Alpha Bedoh Kamara