Streets of rivers – shall we ever learn from experience?

Dr. Sama Banya – Puawui

The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 July 2014

Some years back, there appeared in this column an article with the title; “when will they ever learn?”

Today’s heading is a rearrangement of those words, because the question is now directed at all of us, and not limited to “Them” – the perpetrators of what can only be described as a deliberate, wicked and inexcusable crime against society.

The title was the refrain of a popular hit song in the sixties, with the title; “where are all the flowers gone?”

Last Sunday, I joined worshipers in the Isaac Ndanema Memorial United Methodist Church in Calaba Town in the east end of Freetown. My niece was remembering the death five years ago of her loving husband, and I and other family members had gone to give our support.

The Church was also having its annual Children’s Thanksgiving Service, with a programme that lasted all of four hours.

But the performance of the children aided in two items by the adults was so absorbing that, no one took the slightest notice of the clock.

Following an early morning rain that almost ruined my daily vigorous morning walk, but which did not reach Calaba Town, there was overcast throughout the rest of the morning.

As my vehicle got to the Freetown-Waterloo highway at the end of the service, we were greeted by the loudest peel of thunder that preceded a blinding and frightening flash of lightning.

The heavens opened up immediately, with a heavy downpour and tropical storm which extended all the way into central Freetown.

It has been many years since I heard such loud claps of thunder.Driving along, I saw though not for the first time the awful result, the Nemesis of our stiff-necked stubbornness to which I have referred in previous articles.

Various parts of the highway, from PK Oil mill were flooded with rain water, which formed fast flowing rivers as they struggled to find their way towards the sea.

In places such as the Church of the Holy Trinity, down to the Eastern Police station, the water was almost knee –deep.

The entrance to Connaught hospital was blocked by a flowing stream. While I was still at Connaught, people arrived with some seriously injured young people who were taken to the Casualty Room.

They had allegedly been carried away by the fast current around the Dworzak junction.

Williams Street may have lived to its reputation of being flooded from a blocked Samba Gutter, up to the junction with Thomas Street.

There must have been other such devastating areas in and around the city.

And they are happening because the inadequately deep drainages have been clogged up almost along their whole lengths with rubbish, which were deliberately emptied there by citizens.

It appears to make no difference how frequently those drainages are cleared, as we continue to use them as depositories for all the rubbish from street traders and market men and women, who are just too lazy or would not care to walk the short distance to a dustbin.

How long O Lord, how long must this filthy habit continue?

What shall it take to make us turn from our filthy ways – a major catastrophe?

The Freetown City Council, the ministry of health and sanitation, various environmental protection advocates and others, constantly remind us about the dangers of our evil ways, but we still persist.

Shall we ever learn, or are we waiting to be treated with iron hands?

The famous Bo School was established in 1906 for the sons and nominees of chiefs, in order to educate them and send them back to help in the development of their chiefdoms and not for employment in the public service.

It was a remedial action by the colonial government in the aftermath of the 1898 hut tax war, in the newly declared Protectorate over the hinterland.

Although it was based on the English Public school system, the syllabus did not include subjects like Latin or French.

English was the only foreign language taught up to when I entered the school in 1940 in Standard 11 (as today’s class 11 was called), until I left in December 1948.

Otherwise, I would have learnt that Mrs. Palmer must have meant French and not Greek (See last week’s Puawui – “He who lives…”).

Alhajie Brima Koroma – the Director of Administration at the SLPP headquarters, has now taught me that the correct quotation is: “Qui vivra vera” – and that it is French not Greek, which means: “He who lives shall see.”


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