Saturday January 7, 2006
First_Name:  Ibrahim
Last_Name:  Sheriff
City:  Darby
State:  PA
Zip_Code:  19023

It is disheartening that most Sierra Leonenas, especially those of us
in Diaspora are very eager about developments in our beloved country. Here and
there, individual Sierra Leoneans everywhere have either lambasted Sierra Leone
government officials for corruption and mismanagement, or they have suggested
ways our country will get itself out of the current mess. Of course, there is
total mess in Sierra Leone – I mean mess in everything so far one can think of.
It is disheartening to even admit that most Sierra Leoneans bow in shame every
time news comes from that country – because there is ever hardly any good news.
After careful and lonesome deep thinking about Sierra Leone problems, I came out
with the following conclusions:

That Sierra Leone needs first of all to address its human mentality about what
it means for one to say I was born in Sierra Leone. In other words, Sierra
Leoneans must value the spirit of the nation in order to realize the worth their
country deserves. And in knowing that value, we must not fake democracy – a good
tool for national development in modern era. Let me give an example here. By
valuing the spirit of a nation, every Sierra Leonean must feel free to fly the
Sierra Leone flag anywhere that is considered respectful – on individuals’ cars,
motor cycles, bicycles, homes, academic centers, corporate offices, other
offices, etc. We must not limit the display of our country’s flag only to the
President, Ministers, or parliamentarians. That idea is old, inapplicable and
non-developmental to the prosperity of our country. After September 11, 2001
incredible number of the USA flags sold in the US because the American people
and all of us who live in the US have been encouraged to value the spirit of the
American nation.

Secondly, government must allow the print and electronic media to freely operate
within the confines of the rule of law. If the government is certain and honest
about its operations in the country, it must not be terrified by the operations
of the media because the media put light on the exact occurrences in the
country. They provide a good basis for checks and balances in a nation. Tejan
Kabbah and his SLPP government know the significant role the media plays in
national politics. Why do you think they rushed to establish a clandestine radio
democracy (FM98.1) during the Junta era in 1997/98? Indeed, that FM station did
a lot to return Kabbah and the SLPP regime to power. But will they be OK if such
clandestine radio station is operating right now in Sierra Leone against them?
Thirdly, the law enforcers, especially the police force must be independent of
any political interference. They are trained to perform the duty to the best of
their abilities; so allow them to use their professional training to enforce
laws. Intertwining their training with that of political interference makes
issues very crooked and complex to deal with.

No politician must have any power to order or influence any police officer,
from the Inspector General to the last
rank to arrest anyone, or file any charges against anyone. This is exactly what
is happening in Sierra Leone today. From Kabbah through Berewa down to the last
politician – police officers are used to crack down on political opponents.
Fourthly, Sierra Leoneans must learn to be independent. Today, we rely too much
on foreign aid for our survival. This is wrong for a country that is endowed
with fertile land for agricultural activities; a land blessed with natural
resources and talented and smart citizens. What borders me is the fact that we
keep ignoring what we ought to do to develop ourselves and our country. We,
Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia, and so on were all colonized by the British – but let us
look at these countries and look at ourselves. Why don’t we ask or even bring in
expatriates from these countries to basically teach us to know what they exactly
did to bring their country to where they are today? In Nigeria, every educated
or wealthy person has a very large farm that he/she and his/her family place
high value on. The extent of man’s wealth in Nigeria is determined by how large
his farm is.

I saw that for myself in 1997 when I went to represent Sierra Leone
as a Sierra Leonean cloth weaver at the All Africa Trade and Tourism Fair held
in Kaduna. What is wrong if we make it mandatory on any business person or
government official to own a farm in Sierra Leone that produces food stuff and
other needed agricultural products in the country? This can be a very positive
approach will not only ensure food sufficiency, but will also help in lowering
our dependency on foreign aid. How are Kabbah and the SLPP government going to
make Sierra Leoneans go to bed at night not hungry in 2007 when there is no such
foundation to transform that saying into practice?
Fifth, any country that fails to invest in its youth is poised to lead into

I had hoped that we should have learnt a lot after the civil conflict.
What has the national youth policy done for Sierra Leone youths? To me it is
just a useless script of documents that means nothing to the country. If we are
going to say all odds about the then NPRC, we must commend them for empowering
the youth in this country. We saw where Sierra Leone was in the eyes of
international sports – especially soccer: Zone Two, African Nations Cup, you
name them. Even the 6-3-3-4 educational system is not well coordinated so that a
comprehensive honest report about youth placement is made.
Government must encourage individuals or groups and organizations to empower
the youth of our
country – prepare them for a better future. That can be done by encouraging
national sporting events such as national soccer tournaments; genuine
scholarship programs, and implements other feasible policies that will be seen
to be working well for the youth of our country. There is currently human
resource wastage in Sierra Leone with our youth having nothing to do.
Sixth, our country must try as much as possible to merge into the 21st century.

In other words, encourage technology. There are quite a large number of Sierra
Leoneans in the Diaspora who are trained and qualified Information Technology
experts, and experts in other technology fields who are more than willing to
return to their country and use their expertise to help in the development
process. Some of us have acquired education that enhanced us with the abilities
to create and manage national information system database that will do a lot to
fight a lot of the problems in that country.

Technology will help fight corruption, identify potential resources that our
country has and which has
never been found out about, attract businesses to our country, create employment
for our people, change the mentality of our people, ease long, boring and
difficult processes, and you name them. However, our country has to show that it
is interested in embracing our brothers and sisters who have acquired these
incredible modern skills.

Finally, Sierra Leone must encourage all other Sierra Leoneans to come home and
invest their resources in the country. We must not look at our brothers and
sisters in Diaspora as targets. No one living abroad especially in the Western
world would want to leave the western world for Sierra Leone if it is only for
job or money. They have jobs and enough social security to keep them going for
the rest of their lives. If they express desire to go home is because they want
to sacrifice to help their motherland. Most politicians had blocked lots of our
brothers and sisters from having access to political offices because politicians
in Sierra Leone feel threatened by their presence. This mentality is very low
and unproductive.

My last word is that Sierra Leone will only move forward if we value the spirit
of our country by making various sacrifices now so that our children will praise
us after we shall have gracefully passed. If we fail to prepare that future for
our next generation, what do we want them to refer to us as? I wish Sierra Leone


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