Francis Ben Kaifala
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 31st August 2017
When I see Sierra Leoneans shamelessly paying toll to Chinese vulture businessmen after being betrayed by our own government, I feel depressed in my quiet university apartment in the United States.
Bai Bureh, an illiterate who did not even have the capacity to understand odious taxing regime, stood up to unfairness to his kind, yet we sit and allow such unfairness to our people.
Lawyers, judges, accountants, engineers, medical doctors, businessmen, various professionals and non-professionals and students who all understand the insult that the toll road is to Sierra Leone, are silent and compliant like sheep to the slaughter.
The picture of Chinese men collecting toll along the only access road to the capital city Freetown by land from everywhere in the Provinces is sickening. Where is our pride?
Every Sierra Leonean paying a toll to visit their families or do business in the provinces, creates a picture in my mind that is worse than seeing every Sierra Leonean hanging from a tree, because we are ready to stand up for something left in us – our pride.
That toll is a symbol of betrayal by our government, loss of our collective pride and a disgrace to our existence.
Bai Bureh, Sengbeh Pieh, Kai Londo, Madam Yoko, Pa Demba, Lamina Sankoh and Wallace Johnson, who all died trying to etch pride on the scrolls of our hearts, must be weeping in their graves for this betrayal of their legacy in allowing neo-imperialism to flourish while we proceed on, business as usual. We have no shame.
It reminds me of the immortal words of Katherine Fitzgerald in her piece “Hope Amidst Hopelessness” of Sierra Leoneans: “Though the ugly and distressing circumstances of their existence occupy the preponderance of their speech, they have, over the centuries, cultivated an alluring and dazzling form of social communication. Their mode of expression is enormously spirited. They are experts at conceptualising and articulating ideas. The breadth of their vocabularies is stunning. Virtually no subject or discipline is unfamiliar or uninteresting to them.”
In a land of mass illiteracy and relentless prose, Sierra Leoneans are brilliant intellectuals and poets.
Sigmund Freud wrote, “Men are strong as long as they represent a strong idea.” However, Sierra Leoneans consistently fail to “represent” — bring forth, realize, implement, display — their ideas. They cannot seem to find their way from the theoretical to the practical.
With all written and said by the public against that toll, it remains a disgrace and everyone who pays to cross it is a shame to our existence. We should resist it by every means necessary.
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