Bishop J. Archibald Cole
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 August 2017
We have today witnessed another sad chapter in the history of our beloved nation, Sierra Leone. This gruesome flooding and mudslide event has only awakened old wounds.
Old wounds such as the January 6 tragedy, old wounds such as the ten years of senseless war, old wounds such as the virulent Ebola Virus that took Precious lives away, and old wounds such as the flood that displaced so many of our citizenry barely two years ago. Indeed, these are trying times for our nation.
As a matter of fact, I know that the government and Non-governmental organisations are frantically trying to provide relief. We no doubt laud their efforts. We appreciate all anti-disaster efforts that is being exacted so far.
Yet these are just emergency palliative measures which can never be commensurate with the damage that has taken place and the lives that we have lost.
There is no RECOVERY. Up till now we are still feeling the effects of the scourge of war. It’s effect on our educational system. Its effect on our economy. Its effect on the young people who were treacherously exploited by selfish old men for their own selfish, egoistic and capricious ambitions.
And now, once again we are being faced with this horrible social crisis. The question ravaging my heart is this; considering all the aforementioned, What manner of people aught we to be Sierra Leoneans? What lessons have we learnt, if We do learn at all?
Maybe it is time for the Ministry of Housing and Country Planning to accept that they have been negligent in their duties.
One look at mountain rural areas, one look at the so called new development sites is enough to convince you that no planning is done. People build disorderly and arbitrarily. (Photo: The Hills of Freetown before the floods came yesterday).
Who gives them the permit? who is responsible to do soil testing? who monitors the building sites to ensure people build according to the required standards? Who ensures that there are access roads to every property?
Is the Ministry of Housing and country planning really planning at all? What about the Ministry of Lands? The Ministry of Lands is busy dishing out Parcels of Lands to desperate citizens without reference and respect for the laws governing the issuing of such lands.
I have observed that in other English-speaking West African States like Ghana and Nigeria there are areas known as GOVERNMENT RESERVED AREAS (GRA). It is not the case with Sierra Leone. Lands Ministry has distributed the lands like the apportioning of an elephants’ meat.
Will I be wrong to say that the Lands Ministry is a contributing factor to this tragedy? They allocate dangerous areas to desperate people. The people too, out of desperation will go to any length, even to the point of bribing to get a piece of land.
The judiciary also is not helping the situation. They treat land cases contemptuously and haphazardly. “Justice delayed is justice denied.” The long and unnecessary adjournment of cases go a long way to frustrate legitimate land owners. Cases that should be concluded in a month or two would end up for three years.
Unequal distribution of Lands is another problem we have to deal with and soon. Why should someone control fifty acres of land that he did not buy in the first place. How can someone claim 50+ acres by statutory declaration? Our courts must provide enough protection for citizens.
These are reasons why we are mourning today. Oh Lord, help Sierra Leone mourn for her sons and daughters. May the Lord have mercy.
Sierra Leoneans, this is not the time to celebrate carnival with paddle. Those of you who are planning to dance on the streets on 2nd of September, consider your ways. One month of mourning is not enough for the level of death and destruction we have encountered.
The world is watching you our political leaders. The world will judge you by your actions. If you all jump to the streets on 2nd September with paddle masquerade – (dancing debul) – the world will know that of all nations, Sierra Leone is the most irresponsibly and unserious nation. The world is watching. We are all watching.
As we mourn the death of hundreds of our people, may we have respect for their souls. In conclusion, I quote, “A people who refuse to learn from history will ultimately repeat the mistakes of the past”. If this is the land that we love, let us love in deed and love in need. May the Lord bless you all.
Please give generously to the Freetown Flood Disaster Emergency Appeal to help the Freetown Flood Victims by clicking on this link:
About the author
Bishop J. Archibald Cole is the General Overseer of New Life Ministries Intel Miracle City in Freetown.