The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation – welcome home Idris Elba

Abdulai Mansaray: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 28 December 2019:

If Sierra Leone was a patient, a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan would reveal that our country is in dire need of urgent surgery to repair its image. It is not surprising then that in the last decade, “rebranding” was a watchword for the Ernest Bai Koroma APC government.

With a chequered recent history, blighted by images of war, corruption, bad governance, tribalism and abject poverty, etc., it is imperative that Sierra Leone should stride towards presenting itself on the world stage for what it truly is: a country of natural beauty that is blessed with natural resources to make a paradise on earth.

Any government that takes the effort to achieve such a feat very seriously, should not go unnoticed, and should be lauded.

This brings to mind the pre-Christmas visit of one of the world’s icons – Idris Elba to Sierra Leone last week. There is no doubt that our country needs role models, for the young generation to emulate. And we can all agree that at best, our role models have been corrupt politicians that have served as barometers for measuring success in our country.

That is why it’s not surprising that even after presiding over a decade of unrestrained corruption, Ernest Bai Koroma still enjoys some hero worship and messianic status in some parts of the country even to this day.

When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of people in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorises it and a moral code that glorifies it. But let us not forget that “A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims, but accomplices,” (George Orwell).

The euphoria that gripped the nation during the visit of Idris Elba, and his eventual acquisition of his Sierra Leonean passport will be remembered as one of the key highlights of 2019 in Sierra Leone.

There is no doubt that throughout last week. Sierra Leone enjoyed a rare mention for the right reasons in the world’s media. Idris Elba is not only a son of the soil, but could be a valuable brand named asset to put the country in favourable terms on the world stage.

Last week, the Chelsea FC player Antonio Rudiger, whose father and mother are German and Sierra Leonean respectively, sponsored 11 Sierra Leonean children, through Bigshoe charity, for medical surgery aimed at correcting cleft lips, burns and deformations. In a statement, he said “I am proud of my origins in Sierra Leone…..and happy to give something back”.

There are many more where these come from; all wedged in the human labyrinth of the diaspora. But one swallow does not make a season.

Nevertheless, it is important to note that Idris or Rudiger are not the only celebrities we can boast of. Giving back to our country does not hinge on celebrity status only. There are many Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora, from Angola to Morocco and right down to Kazakhstan, who would dearly like to give back or return to Sierra Leone with investments, jobs, knowledge, expertise, etc.

It goes without saying that one of the end games of many hustlers is to make it and return home. But the question is to what extent does home makes it conducive to achieve such dreams? The need for such favourable conditions was not lost on Ernest Koroma, when he initiated the Office for Diaspora Affairs that was housed in State House. The essence of that office was to help returnees, investors and the like to enjoy a smooth return or transition to the motherland.

But like many well-meaning ideas, it suffered from the perennial affliction of political contamination. Most of the privileges and favourable conditions were accorded to party card carrying diasporans, and only those who could sing party songs or contribute to party funds had a look in.

The value of Sierra Leoneans living in the diaspora should not be measured only by the amount of financial contribution they can make to a political party’s fund. It goes further than that.

We all have examples of people who want to go back and invest in the motherland. But we also have examples of those who have ventured to do so in the past with horrible outcomes. The experience of some of those who were brave enough to venture was so horrible that they returned deflated and devastated.

Some recall experiences that made them fodder for the con artists. They were duped, tricked, misinformed in every step of the way. There are some who recall how they were frustrated at every turn of the way.

It is not surprising, though ill-mannered and self-hating that someone by the name of Patrick Foyah is alleged to have spread lies about Idris Elba being a victim of robbery in Sierra Leone.

It is a good thing to encourage big money men, investors and celebrities alike to our country. But it is also doubly important to make room for the small fry guys from the diaspora to return home and invest the little they have in their community.

We know that it is the Christmas period and the season of good will. We are also told that our saviour Jesus Christ was born on Christmas day. In keeping with the season of good will, three wise men presented baby Jesus with gold, frankincense and myrrh.

As if on cue, Sierra Leone received its own kind of gift on Christmas day: one of the biggest cruise ships in Europe, MS Hamburg berthed on the docks of Freetown with about 420 passengers. Many will see this as a statement of intent; telling the world that Sierra Leone is ready for tourism. The few times we have had ships of such a size were either slave or Mercy ships.

It will be disingenuous to conclude that the visit of Idris Elba has single-handedly resulted in this event. Nevertheless, we cannot underestimate the potential and power of his visit and association to help rebrand our country.

What we as a nation and the government must now do is to ensure that future tourists and visitors to our shores feel safe from violence and crime. It is in the interest of us all to maintain peace, law and order, so that our country can regain its place on the world market of tourism.

We have the weather, the terrain, the resources, but above all the people to make it what it is: a paradise.

With the low and declining value of our currency – the Leone threatening air traffic, there can be no better time for badly needed foreign currency. The tourist industry has proved to be one of the fastest growing and reliable cash cows for many countries with viable and peaceful tourist destinations. Just ask Little Gambia next door.

But lest we forget, our government should do whatever it can to make our country a place to go back to. Many Sierra Leoneans want to come home and settle with little businesses and job creation. With the wind of change blowing in Europe (Brexit), the rise of fascists movements, and with democracy taking a detour in the western world, there can be no better time to create a conducive atmosphere to facilitate the second coming.

In Ghana today, many African Americans are adopting the country in their droves, and the Ghanaian government has ensured that such transition takes place with minimal ripples. And many African Americans have not shied away from boasting about their decisions to return home on YouTube.

Check it out. Why can’t we have the same? After all, Sierra Leone, and especially Freetown was the first home of freed slaves. We can make it home again for us modern day voluntary slave returnees.

So as we usher in the New Year, let us all embark on a new direction for our country. This is a direct appeal to the President, His Excellency Julius Maada Bio. Please get your government to get rid of all those bureaucratic gridlocks that make it very difficult to open a bread shop.

Please tell the Ministers, secretaries, and all those involved to sign the appropriate papers without the need for brown envelopes. This is not to say that this is what is happening now, but we all know that many people have distasteful stories about such experiences.

Former President Koroma once said that “Sierra Leone is open for business”. That sentence has since gained a life of its own with various interpretations. This time, we want Sierra Leone to be open for business as God intended it to be. Idris Elba may be the harbinger and pacesetter for that.

The hope is that many will follow his footprints. But if we want to grow the roots of goodness in our country, those roots should lie in the soil of appreciation. Welcome home Idris Elba.

No matter who you are or where you are, instinct tells you to go home.

16 Comments

    • Aaaaah my dear brother/sister Yaw….Lol. From your name I can tell you are Ghanaian. Do I detect a tinge of jealosy that Idris is returning to his Sierra Leonean roots rather than his Ghanaian matriarchical ancestrary? Lol

      Anyway dont worry, despite Sierra Leone being classed one of the most corrupt and poorest countries in Africa, our diploomatic passport will serve Idris well. But we hope he will not abuse it and bring us shame.

      I recall former president Koroma gave Dr Arthur Porter Jnr who was also a Canadian citizen our diplomatic passport – infact president Koroma also appointed Porter as minister plenipotentiary to the disgust of many Sierra Leonneans.

      What did Dr. Porter do with this diplomatic privilege? He got involved in all sorts of financial investment scams in the name of Sierra Leone. Dr Porter is dead now and may his soul rest in peace. What he did to Sierra Leone was shameful and we hope Idris Elba does not bring our country into disrepute. Amen.

    • I hope you mind what you say on this PLATFORM Yaw Sakyi. You can’t just sit somewhere in the UNIVERSE and try to RECKLESSLY make SILLY and NONSENSICAL statements about our country’s DIPLOMATIC PASSPORT. That is INSULTING to our country and you must know that. How dare you? I ask you to apologise forthwith.

      Let me remind you that you are on a very REPUTABLE PLATFORM where such IRRESPONSIBLE STATEMENTS are UNACCEPTABLE. I am waiting for your APOLOGY. This has become an issue between us for debate and will not go unresolved. I hope you are not just ONE OFF on this PLATFORM. Mind your WORDS and mind the STEPS. You have been warned.

      The so called Yaw Sakyi somewhere on PLANET EARTH making a SARCASTIC, MEAN and NARROW MINDED statement about our country’s diplomatic passport because he can never get one. When the FOX can’t reach the GRAPES, it said, OH BOY, “THEY ARE SOUR”. GOD help Yaw Sakyi. Ask for FORGIVENESS. However, happy New year in advance Yaw Sakyi.

  1. My wife and I just woke up and still relaxing in bed watching the above video clip and the first question she asked was – Is Idris Elba British because he has a Sierra Leonean accent as compared to his nephew who migrated to Britain in his teens but has lost his Sierra Leonean accent?

    I finally was able to convince her that he is an English man by showing her some YouTube videos of a TV shows- IN THE LONG RUN featuring Mr. Idris Elba and also an interview with Trevor Noah on Comedy Channel when he was interviewed last year as the Sexiest Man on the planet earth, and now the level of respect and admiration she expressed for him has reached a different level. But my wife made me feel very comfortable by saying – We look alike but the difference is I am sexier.

    President Bio has made a wonderful decision by entrusting Mr. Elba as a Sierra Leonean Diplomat to rebrand our nation. I hope with less pressure he will perform his duties and hopefully start investing in his Homeland based on the feasibility study and memorandum of understanding (MOU) that has been signed by stakeholders rather than wiring $100,000 to strangers which according to the law in the USA is considered as illegal money laundering.

    Finally the Cruise Ship that has just landed in Freetown is a good indication that Sierra Leone is now open for tourism business due to the implementation of the Visa on arrival program and I hope and pray that will help our country generate more foreign exchange.
    ONCE AGAIN WELCOME HOME BROTHER IDRISS ELBA.

  2. Claims can be posted, but I think such claims should be verified. Good to always check the other side of the story. This is my take.

  3. I, Kadiatu Kanneh stand by my story. I transfered money from my Wells Fargo account and payments sent through Western Union to Lawyer Solomon Jamairu’s Echo Bank account. I have all my documents with my Lawyer Lansana Dumbuya and with the CID in Freetown. Visit House at 25B Willoughby Lane. Total amount transferred about $100000 (one hundred thousand dollars) The ACC Boss says it is a private matter.

    • I am now totally devastated with this horrible revelation Kadiatu. This is CROOKED STUFF. I will advise you to post an article through this newspaper including all the documents involved.

      Yes, it’s a private matter but, it’s CRIMINAL. I don’t know the exact conditions / rules regarding such articles. Please contact the EDITOR.

      This is serious stuff and must be taken seriously by the courts. As Patricia said, take more lawyers. If possible, sack they present one. He seems to me to have been compromised.

      SAD story there from Kadiatu Kanneh. GOD BLESS and HELP you retrieve you money. It’s a lot of money to be handed over to CROOKS. Can you imagine how our LEGAL/JUSTICE SYSTEM has become? We must “GET SALONE SORTED”.

    • Indeed. A tale of two RETURNEES. One returned happily with the “NATIONAL RED BOOK”, let’s say it that way and the other struggling with CROOKS for MONEY sent to buy a house to stay when she returns. No one seems to care.

      Is that a fair PLAYING FIELD for RETURNEES? These are some of the things that DETER RETURNEES from RETURNING. I hope RETURNEES will not be discouraged by such news. The alarm bells have started ringing LOUDER and LOUDER. They will just continue ringing until Kadiatu Kanneh succeeds.

      By the grace of GOD, all these distressful situations will come to an end very soon when we “GET SALONE SORTED”.

    • Oh Kadiatu. One hundred thousand dollars is serious cash. I wish you had tried with one purchase first- say buy the house first- see how that goes. If all is fine after 5 years then invest in the land.
      The problem is, too many people are untrustworthy and want your cash at all cost. There are people who have maintained their moral compass, but they are like gold dust – hard to find. Even lawyers can sell a house to 3 or 4 different people.
      Once they get hold of your cash, it is a monumental task to get it back, if at all.
      Anyway I once again wish you the very best of luck in getting all your money back from the crooks.

  4. Welcome home to one of the living SEXIEST MEN in the world – Mr. Idris Elba and his BEAUTIFUL WIFE. He showed that he is a REAL SALONE BORBOH by rebuking the fake news on the social media about his negative experience in Freetown. He seems to have the typical Sierra Leonean Free spirit by the way he was interacting with Sierra Leoneans.

    I hope and pray that the people of Sierra Leone will treat them right and encourage them to contribute to the development of our nation in their own little way. I will also like to thank Mrs. Elba for supporting her husband in making this historic journey; and May the Almighty continue to bless their marriage with at least four kids – TWO SALONE BORBOH AND TWO SALONE TITY.

  5. Thank you very much Mr. Abdulai Mansaray for your brilliant article. It seems to me that a revolution is in the making. Are we witnessing a situation where Returnees/People from all over the world SCRAMBLING back to our country in search of GREEN PASTURES instead of SIERRA LEONEANS going OVERSEES for the same aim?

    In as much as we WELCOME these RETURNEES, we must also make sure that they have Sierra Leone at heart. Furthermore, is it fair to ask if they should be given a STANDARD SIERRA LEONE PASSPORT instead of a DIPLOMATIC PASSPORT? Also can the GOVERNMENT REVOKE their PASSPORTS if they go against the LAWS of the land in the future? Don’t forget that FRIENDS today, ENEMIES tomorrow.

    Personally, I would prefer that these RETURNEES relinquish their past NATIONALITY before receiving Sierra Leone CITIZENSHIP. In case of any problem in the future, we can CHASE and bring them back to SIERRA LEONE to face justice. I am in favour of RETURNEES to come but, I am also in favour for them to be thoroughly VETTED and for the government to pass legislations to make sure they are totally bonded by the LAWS of Sierra Leone only. No DOUBLE CITIZENSHIP.

    Thank you very much Mr. Abdulai Mansaray as always for your contribution on this forum. GOD BLESS our RETURNEES back home and GOD BLESS Mr Abdulai Mansaray. Happy NEW YEAR in advance to all our RETURNEES and Mr. Abdulai Mansaray. GOD BLESS.

  6. What should I say, … I’m with you!  Only point of correction:  “We can make it home again for us modern day voluntary slave returnees” to  “We can make it home again for us modern day voluntary  returnees”.
    Happy New year to us All, we the Salone People will and must prevail!

  7. Thank you with appreciation. Let me share my frustration doing business in Sierra Leone. In 2016 and 2017 I invested about $100000 (one thousand dollars ) through my Lawyer then Solomon Jamiru, for Lands at River Number 2 and a House at 25B Willoughby Lane Brookfields Freetown. Part of the Land and House was sold.

    In May 2018 and October 2018 I engaged services of two Lawyers. H.E My president I need your HELP. Lawyers are compromised in Freetown.

    • Kadiatu please clarify. Did you spend $100000 or one thousand dollars? Because there is a massive difference between these two figures.
      There is so much land theft in Freetown now. To fight your case you will probably need to be in court for at least five years and a few more lawyers. Unfortunately this is what the legal system in Sierra Leone has become.
      I wish you all the very best in fighting this case successfully.

    • As a FORUMITE, I really feel sorry for you Kadiatu. It’s a PITY and also SAD to hear your distressing story. All we can do is to courage you and be in solidarity with you. Unfortunately, I don’t think the PRESIDENT will be in position to help you. He has his own recent LAND PROBLEMS that he is struggling with.

      Just follow the advice from Patricia and see what GOD will do for you. GOD is in control. This is why we are fighting to “GET SALONE SORTED”. We must “GET SALONE SORTED”. GOOD LUCK Kadiatu and may GOD help you FIGHT and WIN your case. I will be back after the CELEBRATION of the BIRTHDAY of THE SIERRA LEONE TELEGRAPH NEWSPAPER. Again, GOOD LUCK Kadiatu.

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