By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop) :
If Lucifer, also known as Satan aka the Devil aka Shaitan, has had a very good lawyer he would have, no doubt, been the richest man on earth. This is simply because, at every tick of the clock, he will be winning court cases for either seditious libel or slander—especially so when many Sierra Leoneans have, since time immemorial, easily found a scapegoat in that Middle Eastern religious creation.
Probably, in the days of old it could have been okay for people to become escapists by laying all the blame for their woes and that of their nations on the doorsteps of Lucifer also known as Satan aka the Devil aka Shaitan. But in this modern world, in which human beings are expected to take and accept full responsibility for their actions, laying the blame squarely on the shoulders of the Devil is a non-starter.
But the manner in which many full-grown Sierra Leoneans, sometimes, scapegoat-nize the Devil for their actions is not only laughable but very childish at best and illogical at worst. At times I couldn’t help it but to marvel at the omnipresence of Satan in the actions of many Sierra Leoneans. It is genetically common to hear Sierra Leoneans say, “it’s the work of the Devil” or “the Devil is a liar”; forgetting that the Devil himself is not in their actions but in their thoughts! In Israel, the Israelis and the Israeli government do not take the activities of suicide bombers as issues of the Devil but confront such activities from realists’ standpoints. Even in Saudi Arabia, the Saudis do not spend every day, every week and every month stoning Shaitan and accusing him of causing some of their problems; they only do so symbolically once every year during the Hajj period!
Yet Sierra Leoneans seem not to be copying from the Israelis and Saudis. But since Shaitan has no lawyer or since all the religious books were written or are being written by men of God; Sierra Leoneans have been casting the blame for their actions on Satan’s doorsteps. The introduction of tribalism into the politics of Sierra Leone by Sir Albert Margai was not the creation of Satan; the introduction of One-party rule by Siaka Stevens with all its thuggery and corruption was not the creation of Satan; the stupidity of Joseph Saidu Momoh was not the creation of Lucifer; the Ndorborwusoi rebellion in Pujehun District and the Jumbobla’s mysterious shaving of females’ pubic hair in Bo district were not the creations of Shaitan; Corporal Foday Saybanah Sankoh’s eleven years rebel madness was not the creation of the Devil, and the relentless taking from the nation of what belongs to the nation state called Sierra Leone is not the creation of Shiatan. All these malaises are, no doubt, the creations of Sierra Leoneans themselves. So, why bring in Lucifer into the equation? Or what concerns a vulture with an Afro comb (to quote the Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka)?
The chronic scapegoat-nization of Lucifer and the refusal of Sierra Leoneans, generally, to take and accept full responsibility for their actions is what Dr Kandeh Yumkella did try to ram down their throats on 22 December 2013 at the Freetown Dinner Club. He challenged all Sierra Leoneans to “sometimes see the glass as half full and not always as half empty”, adding that despite the stability and progress, Sierra Leoneans, at home and abroad, young and old, men and women, must share a “sense of responsibility” for what the nation becomes…”
That is a clear departure from the traditional Sierra Leonean-held view of scapegoat-nizing Lucifer for the country’s woes. In disrobed language, Dr Kandeh Yumkella is trying to tell his compatriots that if they are aspiring for their country to be a “Singapore” or “Dubai” in modern day Africa, they should stop being escapists and become true realists and nationalists not religious zealots who always interpret their follies into the shorthanded: “it’s the work of the Devil”. According to him, “…If one is always negative; one will never see the good in anything, or in anybody and sometimes not even in one’s self. Creativity and innovation do not thrive in an atmosphere of cynicism; they require the freedom to explore, to dream about what can or ought to be, and the willingness to accept some failures and constructive criticisms”.
Such excerpt above, by Dr Kandeh Yumkella, does not need further explanation because it is self-explanatory. Except that it is trying to tell Sierra Leoneans that they should not waste their combative energy in “binding and casting out the Devil” in relation to Sierra Leone’s problems but that they should “dream about what can or ought to be, and the willingness to accept some failures and constructive criticisms”.
But because of the continuous refusal by many of my compatriots to “dream about what can or ought to be, and the willingness to accept some failures and constructive criticisms”; that is why Lucifer has become a personification for many Sierra Leoneans’ inability to face the realities of life or tackle their personal problems and situations. The Devil has become an embodiment for many Sierra Leoneans’ inability to decisively deal with corruption, tribalism and regionalism. And Shaitan has become the epitome for many Sierra Leoneans’ irresistible ability to glorify inertia in relation to their personal enlightenment or development.
It is on that note that I will end this One Dropian dropping with a verse from Robert Frost’s poem titled the “The Secret” in which he notes that, “We [Sierra Leoneans] dance round in a ring and suppose,/But the Secret sits in the middle and knows”. And, certainly, the secret on how Sierra Leoneans could transform their country into a “Singapore” or “Dubai” in modern day Africa has nothing to do with Lucifer!