49 Years of Independence and Freedom – What is
there to Celebrate?
Abdul R Thomas
Editor – The Sierra Leone Telegraph
30 April 2010
The people of Sierra Leone have just celebrated the
country’s 49th independence anniversary – with
street parties, lantern parade and civic functions.
But the question of whether Sierra Leoneans should
celebrate the country’s independence from colonial
rule, is one that has become a hot topic of debate
at each anniversary, with emotions running high.
Both sides of the debate feel quite passionate about
their views and beliefs.
On the one hand, there are those who believe that
being independent itself calls for celebrations.
They say that the sovereignty of the nation state is
far more important than any other developmental
successes the country may or may not have enjoyed
after 49 years. They also argue that with
independence, Sierra Leoneans are able to determine
their destiny; make mistakes and learn from those
Most of these views, for and against have been
published in various local and internet media,
including this report from CTN News – Freetown:
“As Sierra Leone observes its forty-ninth independence
anniversary on Tuesday 27th April, some Sierra
Leoneans are of the opinion that the day was not
worth celebrating. They told CTN that Sierra
Leoneans should reflect, rather than celebrate the
country’s independence anniversary, pointing out
that nothing significant was achieved since the
country received its independence from Britain in
They said it was quite unfortunate that despite the
country’s natural resources, the nation still
depended on donors for its survival. They said the
country’s current situation was as a result of
corruption, selfishness and ignorance on the part of
past leaders. ‘After forty-nine years of
independence, Sierra Leoneans still do not have
access to portable water and electricity among
others’. They acknowledged that the government was
trying to develop certain sectors, but noted that a
lot should be done for Sierra Leone to gain its past
One of the two surviving delegates to the Lancaster
House constitutional talks, Hector Bultman, also
revealed his disappointment over the country’s
post-independence circumstance. He mentioned
selfishness, greed and corruption, as among the
factors responsible for the country’s failure.”
The Editor of the Sierra Leone Telegraph received a
letter from a Sierra Leonean professional Dr. Yvonne
Atiba-Davies - Ph.D., living in the diaspora. She
expressed the following views on this hotly debated
“Ladies and Gentlemen,
Kindly permit me to put in my two cents worth about
this whole independence issue.
I refuse to be dragged into this independence
celebration or whatever one chooses to call it. I
have been asking myself this question: "What is
there to celebrate?" I refuse to participate in any
celebration because I do not see the point.
Personally for me, I celebrate when one achieves a
milestone. I celebrate when there is success; I
celebrate when there is improvement. I will also
celebrate when there is enough food for my people to
eat. I will celebrate when every woman who wants to
be a mother gets to enjoy that kid she is hoping to
bring into this world - hoping that the woman gets
maternal treatment and the kid gets to live long to
see his or her 5th birthday.
I will celebrate when one of my relatives goes to the
hospital; gets diagnosed accurately, gets treatment,
and then goes home feeling so much better compared
to when he or she first went to the doctor. Any
relative of my mine, who has gone to a hospital for
any reason, goes home one last time in a box. And
you want me to celebrate?
I stand to be corrected, what the HELL is there to
celebrate about Sierra Leone?
Everyone says that the country is hot beyond
redemption - talk about ecology and global warming.
Up till this afternoon, I have been getting a call
from Freetown; as soon as I pick up the receiver on
my end the call is disconnected. I was told that
whoever is trying to reach me is doing what is
called ‘flashing’. It is a means for me to know that
someone is trying to reach me and as a result of
which I should call the person back. I would but the
number coming on my caller ID is a local number. It
is not showing the cell phone of the person trying
to reach me.
Let us forget about that side of my story. Let's
move on to something more serious and menacing -
this independence business.
The notion of claiming independence and trying to
celebrate it when people are suffering and
corruption is at its zenith, ladies and gentlemen
permit me to say - is an oxymoron. It is a dichotomy
beyond redemption. This is an idiosyncrasy at its
max. With such going on, this leaves me very
discombobulating and I wonder if I am the only one
seeing this problem.
Mummy will always say to me: "To thine own self be
true." What is the reason for the facade? Why put up
with all the shenanigans and trepidations? And
pretend we live in a world of plethora despite the
cornucopia of what we have?
Someone has to speak the truth. Everyday we are all
growing closer to our grave. Many of us have already
begun to lose some of our class mates and age group
contemporaries. Why dwell on the negative and be
afraid to speak the truth and play hypocrite?
Look way we all de struggle na dis world, for go home
e turn wahala. Dem dey kont yams by dozen cocoa dey
roll. Salone na foo foo tumbu, dem dey kwiss we so,
but we dey comot na doh.
Even if you pay me, I will not send such greetings
(happy independence) to any one.
Ladies and gentlemen, kindly allow me to ask you
this question: We became independent in 1961. Kindly
research the history of Sierra Leone - has that
country progressed, stayed the same, or has it
deteriorated? What is the main industry in Sierra
Leone - is it diamond mining or is it prostitution;
or professional begging? How do the masses feed
themselves in Freetown?
I rest my case and I stand to be corrected.
Leh me yase yeri far, faddah do yah I baig owna -
Dah tin way dey do krow krow nor to im dey do sapo.”
This debate is set to continue as the country
prepares to celebrate its 50th independence
anniversary in 2011. The challenge for President
Koroma’s government is to accelerate the pace of
development and bring much needed and expected
relief from poverty and unemployment.
Sierra Leoneans are keeping an open mind as to the
success of the newly launched free health care for
children under five, lactating mothers and pregnant
women. The government has two years to prove to the
people of Sierra Leone that their decision to vote
them in 2007 has not been in vain.
2011 may well after all be a cause for celebrations
of the country’s 50th if these development
expectations are achieved.
Back to main list of