Kandeh Yumkella MP: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 June 2021:
After the intense days of working on the Cyber Crime Bill, I hit the road again. Upon the invitation of Ambassador Foday Dabor and other friends, today June 26, I visited Yifin (Nieni Chiefdom), passing through Alkalia (aka Krankoh London).
This is in the extreme Northeast region of Salone, about 45 miles from Kabala town. I called the Honourable Daniel Koroma, the MP for constituency 046 on my way to his territory/jurisdiction.
As we battled from Kabala town along the tortuous road for three hours, my respect and admiration greatly increased for colleagues who travel from far remote locations to Freetown to attend Parliament to represent their people.
Yifin is at least seven hours from Freetown, provided in the rainy season your vehicle is not stuck on the road. I was reminded of a saying in the United States which originated from the indigenous Indians ie “before you criticize a man, walk in his moccasins”. In other words, he who feels it, knows it.
The needs and demands are the same as in my own home in Kychom, constituency, 062 in Samu Chiefdom, in the extreme Northwest of Salone.
The poor people need access to clean water, education, health, and sustainable livelihoods. They also desperately need access to markets (good roads and functional economic institutions).
They desperately need progressive leaders committed to pro-poor, people-cantered development agendas; not power grabs and the deliberate debasing of sacred governance institutions like parliament to amass wealth and glorify themselves through state capture.
Also, as some of the elite and nouveau-riche sit in their comfortable couches pretending that they know the issues and problems of the common man, or as some others enjoy bashing parliamentarians, all we ask is that they spend a week with us in our constituencies in the ground zero of poverty. Come and walk in our Moccasins for a week.
Hon Daniel Koroma, thank you for the goat presented to me on your behalf. I will reciprocate with fish from the Great Scarcies river in Kychom. Politics does not have to be divisive…. we are fellow travellers on the journey to make Sierra Leone prosperous for all our people.
Dr Yumkella’s account of his trip to the North-Eastern Region at the invitation of some friends of his can be read as an instance of what a united and cohesive Sierra Leonean society could be: a place where politicians of every region and of every ideological hue, tint, shade or tone could associate and interact with one another in the best interest of the country. How very reassuring it would be if similar trips were arranged every so often, allowing our lawmakers and key players in other spheres of national governance to crisscross the country, from North to South, East to West and so on, and in the process feel its real pulse and heartbeat, understand what it actually feels to be poor, at a remove from the comforts of modern modes of living often taken for granted by the good and the great of our capital and other cities.
Such trips have the potential to break down ethnic and regional barriers, making our parliamentarians the true representatives of a single, indivisible national entity; representatives that are impervious to demagoguery shaped by notions of tribal exclusivity and superiority and the intolerance, rivalry and hatred these notions engender. The remote regions of our country, be they in the North, South, East, West and in the various combinations of all four cardinal points need leaders that have direct knowledge and experience of the problems of poverty and underdevelopment they have in common. These problems are of course national in scope but are perhaps most acutely felt in the regions in question. Every parliamentarian worth his/her salt should have the courage to gauge the problems on the ground.
Unless and of course you go to the interior of Sierra Leone, chances are you are missing out on the true picture of the state of our country’s lack of development. Maybe for some of us when we think of Sierra Leone, our thoughts and post card pictures of “I wish you were here moment ” are only limited to our greatest capital city Freetown. And even in Freetown, not everyone is living in la la land. Any other places beyond Calaba town, and I dare say Waterloo, out side the city of Freetown, one is confronted with the stark realities of every day life for millions of forgotten people by a government that have lost their bearings and sense of direction. Talk of one direction government , we wish they can keep to their lane, and not cause more pile ups of our economy through corruption, as its the case under Bio.
There are lot of Kabalas, and Falabas in our mineral rich country,North, South, East and West, but nothing to show for it. The pictures of haves and have nots is distributed evenly. Poverty doesn’t discriminate, even if its happens the party you support are in government.Next time you vote with your head not your heart. People in Pujehun and Kaliahun District might like to swap stories and caompare notes with people from Kabala and Falaba of how life is like under Bio’s Sierra Leone, but at the end, they will come away thinking, they haven’t learn anything new. Every where looks the same. Bad roads, health care systems that leaves much to be desired for, not enough electricity to light up people’s homes, and destroying our rain forest and shipping it to China and many more ills affecting our country.
Continue to work for your people and put Salone first as we are all the same nationality. For sure except someone moves in the interiors and see how Sierra Leoneans are suffering in those places.
Like you said, it is only the one who feels it that knows it, or vice versa. I duff my hat to you for your honesty. Kudos.