MY NATIONAL VISION FOR SIERRA LEONE
By Chinsia E. Caesar
The war is gone, forever I hope and pray. However the physical and psycho-social consequences are visible unto this present day. As for me, the most important thing is that I don’t want to witness another war in my beloved country. I am tired of war and its consequences. I have cried too much when I have visited other countries and seen the levels of development they have attained in terms of infrastructure and living standards.
I cried when I attended the International Youth Parliament in Sydney because it was there that an excruciating realization dawned on me: we have spent over 40 years destroying our native land while others have spent the last half-century working together to build and develop their countries. It struck me, in that faraway land, that youth in Sierra Leone has been languishing in abject idleness and hopelessness without having access to viable opportunities to develop and to make good use of their talents and capacities. Oh, how overwhelming was the pain I felt when I sensed that I had nothing beautiful to remember about my country; only the devastating experiences of way.
I have decided to write something brief. I will try to be as clear as possible. I have so many things to say, and so many visions I want to see come true in my country.
First, I want to see a Sierra Leone in which my people come together purposefully in pursuit of a different kind of nation reconciliation. I want to see meaning given to that so-called spirit of love, unity and patriotism that is supposed to keep us together as one people and one country.
As I recall, there used to be more of a genuine shared concern for the next man. Put simply, we cared about our neighbours, devoid of selfishness. We used to visit each other; we used to share the burdens of our problems with those we trusted; in most cases, we were even prepared to deny ourselves our needs so as to help others live.
I want to live in a Sierra Leone wherein we all take responsibility for the upbringing of our children. When my neighbour’s child is doing the wrong thing, I should fell free easily to correct him or her without fear a being harassed by my neighbour. In place of reproach, I would hope to receive an appreciative smile. That’s the kind of Sierra Leone in which I would like to live.
I would like to see a Sierra Leone that is free of the broken bottle that cut us into pieces. Broken bottles like tribalism, nepotism, favouritism, sectionalism and… you name the rest. These ills long divided us in every place where we ought to be coming together. Wherever you go, whatever good you might be trying to do, you will always be stalked by these factors out with your control.
In the office, your application will simply not be considered if you are not a member of the same tribe as those who make the decision. In school or university, if you happen to be the object of your teacher’s or lecturer’s affection, but you don’t’ wish to reciprocate his advances; your marks will have to suffer. Even in the church or mosque, while, God judges no man; many Sierra Leonean congregations will judge you by your social rank or the cut of your cloth. What’s the big deal?
I feel that we will never make progress if we don’t put our petty differences aside and work as one. Let’s stop talking about it and start acting on it; if we want to make headway, we need to put our heads together. We must always remember that no man is an island. We need each other in this transient world; we don’t need to become engrossed in mere trivialities.
We ought to be proud of the variety of ethnic group in our country; proud of the diversity of cultures we share; proud of our high degree of religious tolerance. Let us appreciate each other for the fact we are all Sierra Leoneans, irrespective of the tribe you belong to, or who my father or mother is, or whether he or she is literate or not.
I envision a Sierra Leone that is corruption free… but is this really possible? Corruption is a terrible, infectious disease for which we have not yet found a cure – neither in Sierra Leone nor in other parts of the world. Yet it’s also part of our human condition. Since it comes from us, I believe we can overcome it. If only everyone were ready to co-operate. And if only strong leaders were willing to set good examples by casting out their nets and catching the big fish. Maybe if people saw that corruption was being taken seriously and dealt with punitively than they would be more willing to join in the fight themselves. Until we start tackling it, people will remain complacent and corruption will remain the norm in Sierra Leone.
I want to be able to benefit from my country’s natural resources. I don’t want to let anybody squander the marvelous endowments that we all were meant to cherish. I want to see Sierra Leone being led by vibrant and dynamic Sierra Leoneans who will put our country’s resources to good use, so as to benefit us. Sometime, I am so ashamed when I travel abroad or meet people from other countries and have to mention that Sierra Leone has diamonds, bauxite, iron ore and so much more, our beautiful harbor, our fertile land, our marine resources and our enviable climate. Yet somehow we live in utter poverty. We limp in last on the human development index and we only ever seem to fall lower. In spite of logic, in spite of my education and in spite of prayer, it is a plight I cannot understand.
All I want is to see a Sierra Leone wherein our resources are under control to ensure that we generate adequate income to revive other sectors of our economy.
I hope to see a Sierra Leone offering equal opportunities for boys and girls from the cradle to the grave. In my mind, this means promoting both equality and opportunity. Equal opportunities in terms of free and compulsory education for both boys and girls; equal access to skills training and vocational centers, opportunities to participate in forums where we can make our voices heard without fear of intimidation.
In particular, I want to see a country where girls are not left out but are encouraged to reach the highest peak of their potential. I want to see a country where one does not have to drop out of school or college because on lacks the necessary fees or financial support. I want to see youths becoming active participants in decision-making processes I our country. And ate the root of it all should be an education system, which must be effective enough to equip an adequately-sized, skilled workforce to form the bedrock of our society.
I want to see a Sierra Leone that does not depend wholly and solely on International Aid or Donor should by now be taking care of herself and her people instead of relying on hand-outs and becoming entangled in all the string attached.
I picture myself traveling between Sierra Leone’s towns and villages on roads that are free of pot holes. I picture myself walking through streets free of swarming dust and overflowing rubbish containers. I want to be free to fill my cup from taps that are running with safe drinking water, free to go out in the evenings under the light of functioning street lamps; free to make use of a power supply that runs for twenty-four hours a day.
I want Sierra Leoneans to be properly rewarded for the work they do. I want the security of knowing that at the end of each of each month my mother and father will receive salaries sufficient to meet the daily needs of my family. When I enter into employment, I hope that I do so under comfortable condition of service. I don’t just want to be paid; I want to be valued. We need to take proper care of our workers, in all sectors, if we want them to be productive.
I have to single out the example of teachers, whose jobs are so central to the progress of this nation. At present most teachers are surviving on the proceeds of extra, private lessons because the terms of service in schools are so unsatisfactory. It’s not surprising to me that the education system is collapsing, because we don’t afford our human resources basic human respect.
I visualize my Sierra Leonean society founded on viable, efficient and effective institutions. We have to start with the family, since all good charity begins at home. But I think our solutions should also address the church, the parliament, schools and traditional societies. I would like to see them come alive again.
One of our main principles used to be respect for elders. Now I don’t know where that respect has gone. Sierra Leonean society used to be like one big family. It should be from this type of family that a Sierra Leonean child learns the customs, values and norms of the society in which we live. The family has a responsibility to make every one of ots children aware of the potential he or she has to play a part in our common development. We should all interact positively and complement one another.
In my mind’s eye I see myself in a learning environment where the processes of acquiring knowledge are conducive and encouraging for students. My country should provide its students with free access to information technology and resource materials whenever they are required. My country should offer financial allowances to relieve the burdens of studying at university. My Government should take seriously the need for adequate housing facilities on campus.
Student who work hard for their degrees and meet all the stated requirement should achieve a just reward, reflected in their results. They should not have to fine favour or to yield to the desires of their lecturers that have nothing to do with academic considerations.
In a nutshell, I dream of a Sierra Leone that will be worthy of the title of the “Athens of West Africa, a land flowing with milk and honey, not one obsessed with silk and money; a promised land and a land of promise, where people will come running to seek pastures greener, instead of running away from rotten infrastructure.
In the Sierra Leone of my vision we will all sing evocatively together from deep down in our hearts the words of the First Verse of our National Anthem.
High we exalt thee, realm of the free,
Great is the love we have for thee,
Firmly united, ever we stand,
Singing thy praise, O native land,
We raise up our hearts and our voices on high,
The hills and the valleys re-echo our cry,
Blessing and peace be ever thine own,
Land that we love, our Sierra Leone
Chinsia E. Caesar
125 Circular Road
030 – 22 74 88
SIERRA LEONEANS – LOVE ONE ANOTHER
BY CHINSIA CAESAR
1. Sierra Leoneans! Love one another
Like Birds above flying together
Let pride with the wind be gone
Give love like stars to everyone
Under the tree let everyone sit
To discuss and correct ugly bit-bits
2. Oh, Sierra Leoneans! Give love
As white as a dove
Cherishing a brother like diamond
Hidden deep in the pond
Like fire in forest burn
Let the wall between us be gone
3. Sierra Leone no more than a penny
Will enjoy love sweeter than honey
Give me your hand dear brother
Let me embrace you further
With hands firmly held like a twin
Not even the wind can pass in between
4. May Apples of love upon Sierra Leone fall
Rendering everyman under the sun equal
Like the left and right foot together
So let us work never forgetting the other
Let me joy feel you with laughter
And my failures make you bitter
5. Sierra Leone today needs love
So, let us take a curve
And end those years of hate
That they my never return to date
Love like the smell of pink rose
Sierra Leoneans to One Another propose
By: Chinsia Caesar
To: The T.R.C.
As: Attachment to my
National Vision for