Reflecting On Our 58th Independence: Time to Forge Head
A Special Commentary By Ranger
On Saturday 27th April, 2019 Sierra Leone will be celebrating its 58th Independence Anniversary since 1961.
Sierra Leoneans in and out of the country will reflect on how far we have come since we de-linked ourselves from the political yoke of our colonial British masters.
It will definitely be a trip down Memory Lane as we measure the gains we have made so far; and our lapses which should give us the impetus to chart the road map we need to roll-out to push the country forward.
On reflection, in 1961 the new nation known as Sierra Leone was born at the stroke of midnight, when it’s green, white and blue flag was unfurled. A huge crowd, gathered at the then Brookfields Playground in Freetown to watch the historic moment, which broke into tumultuous cheering.
The changing of the colours happened on April 26, 1961, with the light of the British flag turned off at exactly 11.59pm and the flag of the new independent Sierra Leone unveiled for the first time at exactly 12 midnight.
Queen Elizabeth II sent her cousin, Prince Edward to stand in her stead. It was him that handed over the constitutional instruments to the then Sierra Leone Prime Minister, Sir Milton Margai, to tumultuous applause from the general public and representatives in Parliament.
This marked the Independence of our nation which formally began as the Duke of Kent handed over royal instruments recognizing Sierra Leone as an independent nation.
Since we became an autonomous nation much water has passed under the bridge with regard the socio-economic and political strides we have so far made. But it is an established fact that despite gaining independence from Britain via neo-colonialism, we were positioned to largely become heavily dependent on British aid.
This is understandable when cognisance is taken of the fact that the British are very interested in exploiting our resources which with all amount of certainty has contributed greatly to catapult them to a First World status and the trend still continues.
The umbilical cord that they have diplomatically created has been made so subtle, clothed into giving us the impression that they are genuinely keen in deepening our diplomatic credentials and enhance socio-economic growth but the crux of the matter is that such an interest is bordered on blatant and outright exploitation.
However, we can objectively argue that if our political leaders that assumed political power after the era of the Post-Independence Prime Minister, Sir Milton Margai, have done this beautiful and resourceful country a disservice to the chagrin of the majority of Sierra Leoneans Authoritatively, we can claim that if this country was not somehow cursed with such leaders who were so subservient, always dancing to the tune of our former colonial masters, who manipulated them to suit their selfish aggrandisement, this country would not be in quagmire in which it is today.
Indeed, since we gained Independence it has not been all gloom and doom as indeed we have made some amount of progress on different fronts but the crux of the matter is that bad governance, greed, tribalism and institutionalized, massive corruption have all robbed this country of rising from the doldrums. It is really pathetic to say the least.
To make matters worse and reversing all the gains that we have made an internecine and senseless war reared up its ugly head decimating every facet of the country not to talk of the many lives it consumed leaving in its trail underdevelopment, misery and sorrow further plunging the country into the doldrums.
In celebrating our country’s 58th Independence Anniversary many are pessimistically asking the question: What should we really celebrate?
This question keeps coming up from different quarters simply because the vast majority of Sierra Leoneans are wallowing in abject poverty finding it very difficult to make ends meet. The economy is currently in a mess as the dollar exchange rate to the Leone is skyrocketing nearly every week translating in inflation manifest in increases in the prices of basic commodities. Many are disillusioned, only hoping that things will change.
It can be said that there is indeed a glimmer of hope in the horizon as the current political dispensation under the leadership of President Julius Maada Bio is pursuing an ambitious New Direction policy geared towards overhauling what it referred to as an “inherited battered” economy. Indeed, we have witnessed the implementation of the Free Education program, a Single Treasury Account to eliminate leakages, a dogged anti-corruption stance, the deepening of women empowerment, taking a tough stance against violence against women, pursuing technology and innovation as well as luring direct foreign investments. Since the government is at an embryonic stage we cannot objectively conclude that it has not added value to us as an Independent State.
Building a sustainable human capital is very much paramount in the journey of a New Direction because when a nation has an enlightened populace there is every likelihood that we will make meaningful inroads to the development we are all aspiring for.
Of essence also, is to put premium on agriculture for self-sufficiency and exportation because the more we export, the more we will earn foreign exchange which will make the Leone very appreciable.
Youth empowerment must be seriously considered as they, the youth, form the bulk of the country’s population but majority of them are not gainfully engaged which has resulted into the surge of hooliganism, cliques and robbery. We need to make them more relevant to the country’s development trajectory and indeed they can be positively transformed.
As we celebrate, let us look back from how far we have come and make solid projections which we must patriotically, genuinely strive towards putting aside selfish interests greed in order to harness the resources we have been endowed with so that standards of living of the vast majority of Sierra Leoneans will improve remarkably. This should not be a matter of politics but must be a national crusade that we must win and indeed win us must.
Happy 58th Independence Anniversary to all and sundry. Sierra Leone will surely rise again!
And as we reflect, let us keep in mind our national anthem and let’s put the words into motion:
High we exalt thee, realm of the free;
Great is the love we have for thee;
Firmly united ever we stand,
Singing thy praise, O native land.
We raise up our hearts and our voices on high,
The hills and the valleys re-echo our cry;
Blessing and peace be ever thine own,
Land that we love, our Sierra Leone.
One with a faith that wisdom inspires,
One with a zeal that never tires;
Ever we seek to honour thy name,
Ours is the labour, thine the fame.
We pray that no harm on thy children may fall,
That blessing and peace may descend on us all;
So may we serve thee ever alone,
Land that we love, our Sierra Leone.
Knowledge and truth our forefathers spread,
Mighty the nations whom they led;
Mighty they made thee, so too may we
Show forth the good that is ever in thee.
We pledge our devotion, our strength and our might,
Thy cause to defend and to stand for thy right;
All that we have be ever thine own,
Land that we love, our Sierra Leone.