Mama Salone at 53 years old – shackled by her own children

The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 April 2014

HAPPY INDEPENDENCEToday we celebrate Sierra Leone’s 53 years of independence from British colonial rule. But what does it mean to be independent, while being so heavily dependent upon others for our survival, through foreign aid?

A child growing up under the gaze and protection of her parents, anticipating and fighting for freedom from parental control and domination, must also take full responsibility as an adult, for their own self-determination and destiny.

And should at least be expected to be able to earn a living, and feed herself as an adult.

But when the child grows up and become a parent, with several mouths of her own to feed, there comes the true test of maturity and the true meaning of independence.

After 53 years of adulthood, and with an absconded father, Mama Salone is not looking after herself and her 6 million children very well. But today, she celebrates being free, whilst shackled by her own children.

Can she now feed her numerous children? Can she provide clothing and shelter for her family?

Can she educate her children and provide good healthcare and sanitation for the family?

Can the family now function as a productive, cohesive and harmonious entity among the family of nations?

Today we celebrate 53 years of Sierra Leone’s independence from British colonial rule, but are we truly proud of Mama Salone’s achievements as a parent and family, amongst nations?

We may quite rightly speak of the one-off Gross Domestic Product increase in 2012/2013, as one of the fastest growth in the World – of course, why not.

But the Global Human Development Index speaks otherwise, despite the abundance of mineral and natural resources, which potentially could bring in annual revenue, estimated at more than $50 billion a year, for a population of just under 6 million people.

Not bad, you may say, if only we can get it. But what’s the deal?

  • Poor governance?
  • Rampant corruption in high places?
  • Lawless and impunity?
  • Poor leadership?
  • Political immaturity?

Social indices, such as poor levels of education, high rates of child and adult mortality, and massive unemployment, are not the reasons Mama Salone has been left behind by other parents in the African continent, who likewise are celebrating their 50 something birthday.

They are the result of poor governance, corruption, lawlessness and impunity, poor leadership, and political immaturity. And until these problems are resolved – and soon rather than later, Mama Salone will continue to languish at the back of the class of civilised nations.

Throughout the past twelve months, the Sierra Leone Telegraph has received numerous comments from readers in response to our published articles, which we have also published.

And it is fitting that we have today declared comments received from two readers in particular, as comments or contributions of the day.

This is what they say:

From ‘A Very Concerned Sierra Leonean’:

“And the beat goes on. But people are scared to comment directly on corruption, for fear of violence against their persons and property. The Government has the other side that keeps the people in check, whilst the wanton pillaging goes on.

“Where is the chairman of the NASSIT Board? Is he immune from blame? How did he manage to avoid the sack?

“Sam Bangura was his protégé. That is justice in Sierra Leone – some are judged others are protected.

“In all of this, the Anti-Corruption Commission will remain muzzled and tethered, as they are an instrument of the corrupt system. They are released only when they are instructed.

“What is sad is that all these corrupt elements have dual nationalities. So they are ready to take off to Europe and the West, where they are stashing their ill gotten gains, whilst the poor are left to be pitied again by the World Bank and DIFID.

“If the western nations are really serious about helping us, then let them withdraw the dual citizenship from all Government officers in Sierra Leone -including their families, as it affords them a bolt hole to flee to and leave behind the mess they create in Sierra Leone.

“In most cases, these officials are in Sierra Leone stealing to fund their wives and children, who are holed up in suburbs in the UK or the USA, driving around in 4×4, and children in private schools.

“Ironically, if only their neighbours overseas can get to know that it is their aid monies they are fleecing. They should be equated to local social security cheats, who get sent to prison.

“British taxpayer’s money that is funnelled through international aid, is stolen by corrupt officials, to be spent in the streets of Britain, whose tax payers own those funds.

“Don’t give corrupt officials visas for holidays abroad; don’t allow them to travel for medical; and ban all their relatives from travelling. Just as Obama has done to Kenya politicians”

And Doctor Mariatu Turay-Rohde (MD, MSc. Public Health), Berlin, Germany, writes:

“Fellow Sierra-Leoneans, why all the fuss! Corruption is as old as Methusalem!

“To this unspeakable crime and deceit, I can only quote the Greek playwright (c. 446 BCE – c. 386 BCE), who satirized the political and social issues of 5th-century-BC Athens and said:

“Look at the orators in our republics; as long as they are poor, both state and people can only praise their uprightness; but once they are fattened on the public funds, they conceive a hatred for justice, plan intrigues against the people and attack the democracy.” Aristophanes, Plutus.

“But don’t forget: ‘Conflict is created by two conditions: the evil that is sanctioned by the corrupted…and the sacrifice borne by upright men and women who chose to destroy it.’

“World Bank’s $7 Million to help cushion poverty in Sierra Leone”

“A great win-win idea if properly integrated like in some sub Saharan countries!

“For long-lasting sustainability and success, the following should be considered:

“The idea should be redefined as a programme with direct money transfer to vulnerable households, and not as another short-lived project.

“The programme should offer labour-intensive public works jobs in construction, carpentry and building rural roads to youth and adults, who need temporary employment during the agricultural lean season.

“The programme should also include an information element on health and nutrition, so that the targeted populations will learn more about health and sanitation.

“The programme should also offer credit to small businesses (SME’s), cash transfers and assets – such as livestock to those who cannot work.

“Mechanisms to pay for health insurance for the targeted populations in the country should be in place, guaranteed and overseen by the government, preferably through the Ministries of Social Welfare, Health and Sanitation.

“The programme should also create jobs for these poor people and support them to get assets that can generate income.

“All policymakers, the private sector, aid agencies and other partners should be involved, in order to help bring modern financial services to the targeted populations (youth and the poorest).

“Solar technology which enables this to work in places with no electricity, as well as to work longer hours should be offered, thus creating a business around charging cell phones for others, thereby even allowing the banks to have more customers.

map of sierra leone ethnic groups 1969So, clearly Mama Salone on her 53 years birthday today, is not short of ideas as to how best to uplift herself from poverty and destitution.

But the question still remain, can she go on celebrating, whilst  carrying such a heavy baggage:

  • Poor governance?
  • Rampant corruption in high places?
  • Lawless and impunity?
  • Poor leadership?
  • And Political immaturity?




    This is a key to healing and blessing

    God bless you.

  2. Happy birthday Sa-Lone?

    As post independent Sierra-Leone saw 13 military coups, a succession of corrupt administrations and a civil war lasting 11 years, women and girls suffered most, are still socially marginalized and excluded in governance structures!

    I can well imagine what our women predecessors in politics would say today if they can see what has happened to the legacy they left behind!

    •Mrs. Agatha Cummings-John (1818) – a woman of Independence and the first woman mayor of the Freetown Municipality

    •Adelaide Casely Hayford (1868-1960) Cultural Nationalist and Educationist

    •Madame Ella Koblo Gulama (1921) Paramount Chief and National Politician; and many others, will probably use the words of Abraham Lincoln:

    “This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or exercise their revolutionary right to overthrow it!”

    A concerned citizen of Sierra-Leone

    Dr. Mariatu Turay-Rohde (MD, MSc. Public Health)
    Berlin, Germany.

  3. What sort of Independence celebration is this with no water, no light and no petrol in the country?

    The citizens are not asking for much – just a constant supply of the basic amenities.

    We cannot eat new stadiums and new roads. Give us the jobs that can help us put food on the table.

    ‘Happy’ Independence to all Sierra Leoneans.

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