Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 November 2015
Many Sierra Leoneans in and out of the country are today questioning whether it is indeed appropriate and in good taste, for sections of the society to be celebrating the end of Ebola in a carnival like manner. (Photo: President Koroma toasting to the end of Ebola with a champagne forgetting the tears of those that have lost their loved ones).
They say that the declaration today of Sierra Leone achieving Ebola free status by the WHO, ought to have instead been recognised as a major milestone, dedicated to the memory of the more than 4,000 people that have died of the virus – including the twelve doctors and more than 200 other health workers, and their loved ones that are today mourning their deaths.
Sierra Leone is a nation that is full of paradox, which is making it all the more harder to adopt a sober and measured response to matters of national importance, solemnity and decorum.
Few civilised nations in the world would think of marking the end of a devastating national crisis or war with a carnival. But in Sierra Leone – we just did, out of poor taste to the memory of the dead and for the benefit of our own selfish ends.
A statement by Alie Kabba – SLPP presidential aspirant brought into sharp focus the solemnity of today’s announcement, and the gross failure of leadership to tackle the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone which led to the loss of more than 4,000 lives, $14 million stolen from Ebola funds, and the catastrophic collapse of the economy. This is what he said:
By the Grace of God and the resilience of ordinary Sierra Leonean men and women who suffered extraordinary tragedy and ultimately persevered, I welcome the government’s declaration today that the Ebola nightmare is finally over in Sierra Leone.
All credit goes to the ordinary citizens on the ground who bore the brunt of this pestilence that ripped family and community apart, and indiscriminately took away young and old alike; and some of the best, brightest and noblest of Sierra Leoneans who showed amazing courage, and are now our collective heart’s pantheon of heroes and heroines in everlasting memory.
The doctors, nurses, burial teams, volunteers, and everyday people, who rushed in to stop the fire when the house was literally being burnt down by Ebola, as the government dithered, having been caught flat-footed in the initial onslaught of the disease, are the true heroes, who history should never forget. (Photo: Alie Kabba).
They are the ones whose profiles in courage should sensitize us all about true patriotism, bravery and humility. This victory belongs to the common man and woman in Sierra Leone.
Our politicians and bureaucrats should be humbled and appreciative of the opportunity to finally stand up and do the job that they were hired to do by the people, after being initially blindsided and sandbagged by this terrible disease.
Doing the job that you are elected to do is honor enough for every politician. I would like to believe that the government will do the right thing and honor the memory of all those who were felled by this disease, and allow them history’s shine, without any need for narcissistic grandstanding.
I pray that we all learn from this tragic episode, so that medical terrors such as Ebola do not catch us unprepared in the future.
In this regard, I propose a functional and integrated national public health infrastructure that will strengthen our capacity to contain and prevent the spread of another major health emergency.
The corruption around those funds and the stench of impunity surrounding that episode is a factor that may have unnecessarily prolonged this disease and its horrendous socioeconomic ramifications.
Let’s do a proper and transparent investigation so that such behavior will never happen again. Such an action by the president is one that will be truly worthy of emulation.
I thank the international community, including African and Cuban medical personnel, for their support. They all served with distinction to save lives and prevent further spread of the disease.
Some of these wonderful souls will be anonymous to future historians, but their memory will always be evergreen in our hearts where light perpetual will shine on them.
Let me just mention here some of the heroes who paid the ultimate price in service of their fellow Sierra Leoneans and humanity:
Dr. Sheikh Umarr Khan
Dr. Modupe Cole
Dr. Sahr Rogers
Dr. Olivette Buck
Dr. Godfrey George
Dr. Martin Salia
Dr. Michael Kargbo
Dr. Thomas Rogers
Dr. Solomon Konoyima
Dr. Dauda Koroma
Dr. Victor Willoughby.
May their souls rest in perfect peace! Amen.
Your humble servant Alie Kabba