President Koroma Has Said It All
By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop)
One of the horrible facts of the horrid Ebola epidemic is that it is not any of those childish bedtime fairy tales that usually end with “…and they were all happy thereafter”. Neither is it a Hollywood or Bollyhood or even Nollywood movie in which when an actor or actress dies; s/he goes backstage, and reappears in another blockbuster movie. In the case of the Ebola virus; when you die of it you die for good. And, ten-and-a-half chances to half, you might be buried in an unmarked grave! Such is the reality with which all Sierra Leoneans, at home, are faced with.
And when the Ebola virus knocks at your door and you say there is no place left for him in your house; he tells you not to worry for he has come with his own camp bed and other domestic items (to paraphrase the late Chinua Achebe). And the unwantedness (is that another One Dropian dropped word?) of the Ebola disease is what is inconveniencing all those whom it has visited at present.
But the Koroma-led administration’s efforts to exorcise the specter of Ebola are still being stifled by the very so-called “Communications Experts” it has in its fold. The entire government’s Communications apparatuses are in comatose at best and useless at worst. And most of our Honourable (couldn’t “Dishonourable” be appropriate in this circumstance?) Members of Parliament are now engaged in money-making and public relations sprees than showing actual sympathies for their constituents, while the only usefulness of some government ministers is their uselessness.
And to hurl more petrol into the Ebola inferno, in recent months WhatsApp and Facebook have become the oxygen for misinformation, rumourmongering, scaremongering, and unpatriotic comments to the extent that one begins to wonder whether those Sierra Leoneans who are WhatsApping or Facebooking unspeakable or unwrite-able (is this another One Dropian dropped word?) things about their country are really Sierra Leoneans. To wish evil for, or of, another political party might be understandable. But to wish bad things for one’s own country is not only unfathomable but detestable and nauseous at best.
It is for that reason that the national address, given by President Ernest Bai Koroma on the eve of the three-day national lockdown (Thursday 18 September 2014), is one of the best speeches he has delivered in his seven years at the rudder of state. Like a true father who knows how divisive his children could be in times of crisis or crises, he head-hit the nail accordingly: “…Ebola is no respecter of persons. It is not an APC or SLPP disease. It is not a disease of any political party, or ethnic group or district. Anyone who is not careful can endanger themselves and others that they love. These are extraordinary times, and extraordinary times require extraordinary measures…”
A statement like that presents its listeners or readers with the Hobson’s choice: you only have to accept the stark reality of those words—whether grudgingly or otherwise. But there are no in-betweens: you only have to swallow them without having the liberty of spewing them out! You may not like the guts of the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone. You may not like his political party. You may not like his tribe. And yet, you may not even like the region he hails from. But the realistic facts of those words are as prophetic as they are didactic. Indeed, “these are extraordinary times, and extraordinary times require extraordinary measures…” And the Ebola virus is an extraordinary plague that requires extraordinary measures. That’s exactly what President Ernest Bai Koroma has been trying to do since the outbreak; using carrot and stick measures to see which ones could be workable under the current circumstance.
And I cannot agree more with him, or President Koroma has said it all, when in the opening of his address under review he notes that, “Our country is in the midst of a big trial. But … we shall overcome this Ebola outbreak…” That in itself is an act of faith!
Yes the spiritualists of yore believed, and even the modern day handclapping-alleluia-amening churchgoers believe, that prayers overcometh everything. But, as President Koroma extols his compatriots in that address, “…it is part of faith to obey the laws of life; for without life, there can be no faith…” As I see it, prayers cannot end the Ebola plague but it can only be lidded back into the genie bottle through human efforts and behaviours. The truth is: the pharmaceutical companies now working on the Ebola vaccine or drugs are not relying on speaking-in-tongues of fire or reciting Koranic Suras but human brains and efforts!
Please don’t misconstrue my trend of thought. I am not saying that those who believe in life in the hereafter should not pray to their God or gods. But the fact about the Ebola virus is that it is not a spiritual thing nor is it supernatural. It is a human problem that requires human solution (s).