Road to Sierra Leone’s development: Changing our thinking and mindset

Mohamed C. Bah – NDA Presidential aspirant

31 July 2012

I will continue to be an advocate for a better Sierra Leone, where everyone enjoys the wealth of our nation. I will continue to introduce the psychological and hidden problems – the one we never discuss openly – about the development of our future.

We always see our circumstances and challenges more or less as logistical inadequacies or intangible economic infrastructures, not the attitude and mindset of how we think or behave as a nation.

The physical deficiencies of what we need or lack are the symptoms and not the fundamental problems.

Our poverty may not be the lack of endowed natural wealth or human resources, but the prevalence of an uncompassionate mind that think so poorly as to deny the very basic welfare of our own citizens.

Thank God, Sierra Leone is not located in the desert, nor lacks the natural resources to build its own prosperous future.

We are poor in thinking and only rich by what surrounds us from fresh water to a natural harbour and the billions of dollars of treasuries underneath the ground.

And the closed-minded attitude of taking pride in one’s ethnic and regional affiliations, rather than our national identity and collective heritage is the biggest obstacle to the prosperity of Sierra Leone.

Until, we begin to see ourselves as Sierra Leoneans first and foremost and work towards eliminating our own “social racism”, the doors of opportunity will be locked in the faces of millions of our citizens. Young boys will continue to sell gallons of water in our streets.

Our cities and town will be partially electrified, while politicians continue to amass more personal wealth than helping to build a Sierra Leone of peace and prosperity.

Realistically, moving the economic and social condition of Sierra Leoneans from poverty to middle class status may be anchored in transforming our governance culture, having a compelling national focus on alleviating the deplorable infrastructures and utility conditions, building a more credible society where investors can come and open new businesses while our citizens work to improve their living standards.

Moreover, educating a generation of Sierra Leoneans to be computer-ready for a technologically changing world is the savvy way to go.

Today, as it has been in the past, the acrimony and inefficiencies in our government institutions have broadly rendered them functionless and unproductive.

The limited opportunities that our system offers have polluted an air of distrust, hatred – with a psychological vengeance of destroying others to make way for individuals to “move up” the ladder of personal advancement.

Thus, our focus has been spent on staying afloat rather than planning and developing our nation.

Understandably, such negative consequences will take over any society that does not invest in education and its people.

We must develop great minds of people who can challenge the wrongs and create a solution path to half a century of social injustice and economic stagnation.

No nation can build a prosperous future for its citizens without addressing the question of education. South Korea was an under-developed and under-performing economy in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

The gross domestic product of South Korea was lower and less superior to most of the Sub- Saharan African countries during those years. Education was the driving force behind their magical success.

We must learn and duplicate the economic success of countries like South Korea, Hong Kong, India and China.

Furthermore, the United Arab Emirate, Bahrain, Kuwait and some of the other Gulf States were infested with widespread tribal allegiances, corruption and similar social problems.

But when they decided to use their oil wealth for the good of their citizens by reforming their social thinking and political attitude, they have emerged as growing economies and tourist destination today.

Nonetheless, when many politicians in Sierra Leone today see their political opponents as “mortal enemies” and vehemently discourage every form of opposition by infiltrations and “saboteurs”, our nation suffers from the absence of a legitimate and thriving democracy.

Similarly, to feel that one is superior than the  other because of class status, ethnic belonging and regional circumstances is no different than the racism we saw in Montgomery, Alabama (USA) or the discrimination of blacks in South side  of Chicago(USA)  during the 1960’s.

Thus, we must change the politics of tribalism to one of reconciliation, mutual understanding and collective development.

We must allow legitimate opposition by encouraging new ideas and supporting young citizens, especially women to participate in our democratic process.

We must re-energize our focus to nation-building, not acquiring power to loot our national treasury.

We must transform the politics of “place and tribe” to one of political innovation and inclusive participation.

Our future growth will evidently depend on how we positively think politically and how much we are willing to become a nation of builders.

May our nation continue to be the realm of the free.

1 Comment

  1. “And the closed-minded attitude of taking pride in one’s ethnic and regional affiliations, rather than our national identity and collective heritage is the biggest obstacle to the prosperity of Sierra Leone”

    I could not agree with you more. It has been my firm belief that Sierra Leone like many other African nations is poor not just because of poor governance, mismanagement or corruption. But because as a people we are poor in our way of thinking, too narrow minded. We view the world through too narrow a prism.

    We appear to lack a capacity to see beyond narrow ethnic, regional or religious affiliations. The term “for the good of the nation” is absent from the national consciousness.

    This attitude manifests itself in so many ways: The police officer who ignores an offence being committed because of a few Leones bribe; the person who litters the street with little care for the health and safety of others; the employer who promotes and employs others not on ability, but because of the regional, ethnic or religious affiliations; the doctor who refuses to treat someone because they are unable to pay; the contractor who uses substandard material in order to increase his profit margin; the pharmacist who sells expired or fake medicines.

    They all act out of self interest and not for the good of others or the nation. Until this way of thinking changes, we will always be poor.

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