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49 Years of Independence and Freedom – “What is there to Celebrate?”

A Rejoinder by Abdul Kabba, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

6 May 2010

Dear Ms. Yvonne Atiba-Davies (PhD)

I read your comments in The Sierra Leone Telegraph and totally agree with most of what you say and my question now is what we do about it? Sierra Leone has deteriorated since independence; our country is bankrupt and only survives on subsidies provided by the first world.

How do we emancipate ourselves from this abyss of poverty, degradation, squalor and despair? Who is responsible to do this, is it just the government or is it all of us supposed patriots of Sierra Leone?

From what I have seen we have many critics of Sierra Leone who can eloquently enumerate everything that is wrong with Sierra Leone but it is very hard to find critics who will tell you what it is we need to do as patriots to solve our problems.

The usual response you will get is something along the lines of "It is an absolute travesty that after 49 years of so called freedom, we are still walking around with our begging bowls, looking for crumbs falling off the tables of the rich. A nation endowed and blessed with abundant natural resources - how sad?"

Yes we are a nation endowed with natural resources, but we are not the only nation so endowed.  Natural resources have to be strategically exploited to benefit the nation, but we have not done that successfully. Is it just the government or is it us, the people that are responsible?

Someone once said that People get the government they deserve. Do we Sierra Leoneans get the government we deserve because of our selfish disposition? Have we also properly researched the legacy of slavery, colonization and neo-colonization and the lasting impact these have had, not only on our economy but on our culture, psyche, social structure and politics?

While we always look to blame somebody, usually those in government about the problems of Sierra Leone - have we stopped and ask ourselves what is our own personal responsibility to our nation? Have we looked at the man or woman in the mirror and ask him what you are doing to help your country?

As John F. Kennedy once said “Ask not what your country can do for you; but ask what you can do for your country." Are we asking ourselves that question rather than complaining and pointing fingers all the time?

What is the responsibility of the private sector in contributing to the development of a nation? Here in the USA, the leading academic institutions like Harvard, Yale, Princeton etc, are all private institutions that were founded by private individuals.

The leading hospitals like Johns Hopkins, the Mayo Clinic and the likes, are all private hospitals developed by the private sector. The private sector employs 90% of the people in the USA and provides a substantial tax base for the government to have the financial resources to develop public facilities and utilities.

The private sector in Sierra Leone is severely underdeveloped but someone would jump up and say what about the diamonds, iron ore and bauxite.

While those might provide some revenue for the government, the reality is that they do not provide enough jobs or revenue to sustain our economy.

The bottom line is that it is relatively easy and convenient for us to list everything that is wrong with Sierra Leone but what are we as a group or you as an individual doing about it?

What are the solutions? How do we emancipate ourselves? How do we go forward? We all know the problems and the situation, now let’s talk about solutions and commitment.

Just my two cents!

By Abdul Kabba, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

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