Abdulai Mansaray: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 17 March 2020:
The presidency of Maada Bio has been accused of many things and everything. But despite these, one can see a lot of snippets that may belie some of these accusations. There is no doubt that most of our normal lives in Sierra Leone are judged, lived and associated along the dichotomy of political colourations or persuasions.
It is hard to see any project, action or policy implemented without the usual accusations of tribalism, nepotism and all the isms you can think of.
It is no secret that the world is gripped by the threat of Thy Kingdom Come; thanks to the Corona Virus Pandemic. It is obvious that such a pandemic is not an alien vocabulary in the parlance of Sierra Leoneans.
We recently graduated from the ravages of the more deadlier Ebola virus, which sadly saw a considerable number of deaths in our backyard. It is ironical to be thankful for the lessons learnt from that experience, but Sierra Leoneans should feel quietly confident that the government is well placed to implement the required measures in this crucial time. That is the expectation of the citizens of the country at home and abroad, that we have the manual to deal with-it; if not from a curative but preventive point of view.
In the meant time, there have been a lot of accusations and speculations borne out of cynicism, opposition and some people’s abject inability to recognise the good in others. If Sierra Leone needed to act as one, there can be no better time to demonstrate this.
Irrespective of one’s petty tribal, political or regional affiliations, this is one time that we should all come together to demonstrate what makes us Sierra Leoneans. We should all rally around one flag, one national anthem and one destiny to protect our country. This will incur a lot of hardship and inconveniences.
We should have learnt from the recent past; even though we cannot claim monopoly as masters of the art. But the experience should be there to serve us better; and we should not shy away from calling on such experiences for expediency sake, at least.
We don’t need reminders to know that like the Ebola, the Corona virus (COVID-19) is neither tribal, nor political; anyone and anything goes.
In the big scheme of things, that need for togetherness has not been better demonstrated by anyone bigger than President Maada Bio. He has called on the experience and expertise of the former Minister Paolo Conteh, to share and use his experience from the controversial Ebola saga for the COVID-19 at hand. (Photo: Paolo Conteh – left).
Remember that Paolo Conteh is an active member of the opposition; he was a Minister of the former government; he has made several visits to the CID office for allegations yet unproven.
Despite all these, Maada Bio has become the adult in the room, by calling on his experience, in the face of a potential national and worldwide crisis.
In the context of African politics where political opposition is a synonym for petrol and fire, Maada Bio deserves some recognition. That is what you call leadership. This is especially so, when you consider that his party has been tarred with the perineal accusation of tribalism since he took office.
It did not stop Maada to rise above the petty pedestals of juvenile politics to put the interest of the country first. Come to think of it, both men had limited civilian clothes they could call their own, for a long time together.
Looks like in this case, Maada Bio has arrived. This gives some credence to the krio adage that; “na rain mek sheep en goat meet na undercellar”
There are still some people who might want to see the tapping of Paolo Conteh as a token gesture. Cynics know the price of everything but know the value of nothing. Maada has demonstrated the need for all Sierra Leoneans to come together in our hour of need. This need transcends all imagined or real differences, and we must embrace the message and work towards keeping everyone safe.
There have been a lot of bravado displayed by many people on social media that COVID-19 does not affect Africans. There are those who believe that we are immune – thanks to our perineal relationship with malaria, cholera, typhoid, Ebola and diarrhoea in our annual health calendar.
Others believe that our acquaintances with” lemon grass”, “tea bush”, “gbangban”, “Shekou Toure leaf”, and many other herbs will serve us in providing the natural immunity against this deadly virus. I don’t have the medical authority to postulate such beliefs and confidence, but I am drinking my concoction of lemon, ginger, lime and garlic for now.
But on a serious note, this is the time for all of us to be proactive and cautious at the same time. We just must guard against over the top reaction that may either land us on the boat of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or on a higher reading of the anxiety Richter scale.
A good blend of common sense, experience and medical considerations should put us in good stead. But let us spare a thought for those holiday makers who arrived in Sierra Leone, only to be secluded in “quarantine facilities” at the port of entry. That must have been a rude awakening and to all intents and purposes, very devastating for them.
This is unfortunate, but if that is what it will take to protect them and all of us, sadly, it is a necessary inconvenience and sad experience. My heart goes out to them dearly. Imagine going to re-unite with family, only to be herded in a pen. Oh dear.
This is the time to come together and the hope is that all citizens will follow the example set by President Bio, as a gentle reminder that there is only one Sierra Leone.
CORONA VIRUS NA ALL MAN BUSINESS.
Don’t forget to wash your hands and turn the lights off when you leave the room..