Dr. Yahya Kaloko
According to a certain school of thought, Man is everywhere in chains because of Government. But it is also important to acknowledge he or she may be everywhere in chains because of the inability to discover the beauty of life, its aesthetic values, the love of country, community, and family. We live in a period which requires and charges us with the responsibility to discover the beauty within our souls and minds to build stronger socio-economic frameworks.
DR. YAHYA KALOKO
In the last nine years of APC leadership in Sierra Leone, we have witnessed how the beauty of the mind of a leader can bring about change and hope to constituents. Recent developments in our beloved country reflect the rebirth of the beauty of the human spirit. It is a reflection of the beauty of leadership that first and foremost fears God, and at the same time cares about its people. It is a leadership that emerged after decades of turmoil and despair, when most Sierra Leoneans gave up hope on politics, its failings and inability in finding solutions to socio-economic and political problems.
The reemergence of the All People’s Congress leadership in the politics of our beloved country has ushered new hope to many. The current leadership has been working very hard from day one to set the agenda for the benefit of current and future generations of Sierra Leoneans, for a beautiful Sierra Leone. But it is important also to note that Sierra Leone can only realize her true potential, and in the process benefit its constituents if every Sierra Leonean strives to discover the beauty within his or her humanity.
I believe part of the reason the citizens of SL endured the very dire socio-economic problems, and a disruptive political climate for so many decades was because, may be with the exception of a very few, if any, the beautiful minds never assumed leadership of the country. There has been an absence of shared political ideals and values, an absence of socio-political capital, and an absence of a beautiful mind in leadership until the advent of our current president. The beauty of EBK’s leadership reminds me of George Barnard Shaw’s view “Some people see things as they are and say why? I dream things that never were and say, why not.” That is the beauty of the mind that our current president possesses, and it is an approach needed in every sphere of leadership in our country.
Strengthening the fabric of our society, and serving its needs requires sincere and committed efforts, tapping into the beauty of the human spirit. It requires thinking outside the box. It requires making serious efforts in generating positive energies that bring forth the beautiful minds in politics. Such beauty can go a long way in reinforcing the legitimacy of leadership in our beloved country.
Legitimate government authority exists only where a strong, consensual political culture exists with shared political ideals and values. This is what Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma reflects in his leadership. In his tenure as leader, we see an opposition so confused, perplexed, and very ineffective because of the nascent beauty of effective leadership they never experienced before in opposition.
President Ernest Bai Koroma, has proven that Sierra Leone is beautiful, and leadership can be beautiful. We can also agree that there is still a lot needed to clean up vestiges of old thinking that are obscuring the beauty discovered so far. As we gleaned over a post Dr. Ernest Koroma administration, there are important lessons we must all come to terms with. A beautiful mind in politics is not about handouts to people; but it is about building road blocks for a better future. It’s about investing, making down-payments today for tomorrow’s future. It’s about helping people glean to a future with a potential to improve livelihoods, and learn how to improve humanity. It is about building hope.
Bridge to Kailahun (Courtesy of Cocorioko Newspaper)
This brings me to the definition of happy man, a happy leader. There is a school of thought which states that a happy man is one who makes others happy. Making others happy does not mean creating generations of dependents. It’s about creating the conditions where constituents can thrive, and find meaning to life. It is about investing in the long term, creating conditions for robust economic activity for generations to come. It’s about reawakening the sleeping positive energy in people, and in the process discover the beauty in their souls. It’s about helping them discover their God given abilities to do well. It’s about challenging the status quo, creating a rainbow of both old and youthful talent.
As we look all over Sierra Leone today, one thing is clear. Yes, there is still a lot to do; and it will take time to get it all right. There are certain bastions of power or old thinking which need fundamental change. However, make no mistakes like the confused Sierra Leoneans. The leadership of Dr. Ernest Koroma has shown that where there is a will, there is a way. His leadership believes in total involvement of every population demographic in the country, especially the youth. A beautiful mind can move a nation’s will.
We can only build a better SL if we can accentuate the beauty within us even when we disagree, within our society, and within our families. At this point in our lives, SL is at the cross roads, a moment in which she needs all the positive energy, the beauty within the human spirit, to move the country forward. President Koroma has scratched the surface, and applying the euphemism of the “Allegory of the Cave” there is a seeming semblance of the liberation of the encapsulated beauty within Sierra Leone society.
The infrastructural development for example, that has taken place in our country in the last nine years, even though not embraced by some, is nothing compared to any leadership development in our post-independent period. It is breath-taking. Every corner of SL has seen a dose of infrastructural development. This is the reason why the majority of Sierra Leoneans develop a very strong affinity with our president. This is why President Koroma is the happiest man alive in Sierra Leone today. This is why the APC will be swept to power again in the 2018 elections.
Pipe Borne Water Construction (Courtesy of Cocorioko Newspaper)
Now, let’s talk about our responsibilities, both in the Diaspora and those at home. Both sides must find ways to create better solutions and relationships. We in the Diaspora are blessed in having greater exposure to what works in an economy and society. It’s not so much about titles or degrees, philosophies, sarcasms, but about common sense applications to problem solving. To some extent, we must show our commitment to our country by doing things in Sierra Leone that can actually reflect contributions to nation building. Let us not hold back or be ashamed of what we have learned in the Diaspora. There is a lot we can do in fostering business friendly environments in Sierra Leone.
Take for example, those driving taxis in the US and Europe. Such hard working Sierra Leoneans must figure out how to run such a business in SL; how to set up, manage and enhance profitability, just like it is done here. Those in the nursing field must also think of ways that can help support the health infrastructure in our country. They must think about how to set up home-health and insurance networks to support the ailing health sector in the country. Those in the financial services profession must be willing to help enlighten those at home the importance of managing budgets; the responsibilities that come with managing the state’s coffers, not from the perspective of consumption, but from the impacts created.
We must avoid creating perceptions that Diasporans feel superior to the home-based, and only relocate to Sierra Leone to compete for political office or the few jobs available, even though not enough to employ the home-based population. We must find ways to partner with the government and other entities to create job opportunities in the country, and must find ways to listen to what ideas the home-based population may have, figure out how we can partner. I am not naïve about the push-back that may arise. But I am convinced if we are committed to the course of nation-building, show leadership and understanding, we can all be winners.
We all accept corruption prevails in every sector of Sierra Leonean life. The majority of Sierra Leoneans do not condone it. But this is not unique to Sierra Leone, but a universal human problem. Sierra Leone is not the most corrupt country in Africa, not to talk about the world at large. Even in the US with all the strong institutions, we hear about corrupt practices all the time, but to a large extent the system works. We in the Diaspora should not give up talking about it, but work harder in finding solutions to combat it by helping to build stronger institutions to overcome it.
Here is a controversial and radical idea. To whom much is given, much is expected. We appeal to all those with the means in SL to establish entrepreneurship that can provide employment opportunities for Sierra Leoneans to do so. If one has been fortunate to be in position and amassed wealth, ill-gotten or not, please consider creating opportunities that help the government tackle unemployment. Again, I am not condoning the practice, but reviewing and helping prescribe band aid solutions until there is a will and a way for the country to overcome the malaise. Rather than just building mansions on mountain tops, please partner with the government to create jobs and employ your fellow Sierra Leoneans in need of jobs. Do not be content with giving handouts. Help those in need discover the beauty of their human worth. It is only by these means that Sierra Leone will be able to discover its hidden beauty, and become a beacon of hope for so many.