African Press International (API)

"Daily Online News Channel".

Sierra Leone: hopes for a better life in the midst of despair (A Feature)

Posted by African Press International on September 22, 2007

Dakar (Senegal) A panoply of reasons including mischievousness, vindictiveness and the lack of an enterprising and nationalistic spirit in the character of most of the leadership in Sierra Leone, are among the reasons for the disastrous state of the country once known as the Athens of Africa and leading producer of diamonds.

My above line of thought runs almost in perfect congruence with that of Kenyas special peace envoy to Sudan and former president Daniel arap Moi, when he opined this week that bad leadership, negative attitudes and immature politics are the main factors that have contributed to underdevelopment and lack of peace in Africa.

The global economic crisis of the 1970s would have had very little or no consequence at all on Sierra Leoneans if Dr. Siaka Probyn Stevens, the labour leader turned despot, was not an unequivocal embodiment of the kind of leaders that I and President Moi are alluding to.

Almost immediately after ascending to the helms of authority in Sierra Leone in 1967, Stevens basked in the adulation of corrupt Lebanese businessmen and with whom he neatly meshed up to plunder diamonds and siphoned millions of dollars into foreign banks.

Then in the wake of popular uprisings in the midst of such machinations, he roped in Cuban thugs who trained local details in the art and unleashed terror to eliminate and exclude his potential political rivals.

Then in the wake of popular uprisings in the midst of such machinations, he roped in Cuban thugs who trained local details in the art and unleashed terror to eliminate and exclude his potential political rivals.

Stevens, with the help of his dreaded vice president, Sory Ibrahim Koroma, to a large measure, succeeded with their Machiavellian tactics that coerced the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) to withdraw from the 1973 and 1977 parliamentary and presidential elections and after which a one-party dictatorship was declared officially in 1978.

Thenceforth, the APC gained a tight grip of the countrys political machinery and maintained the status quo at the peril of the vast majority of Sierra Leoneans until Steven finally turned over the reins of state to a close kin as the country inched to the civil war that killed over 200,000 souls in 11 years of bloody conflict.

Even though the merits of the SLPP government under Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabba are hardly conceivable or skeletal to the limit, his ingenuity during the war years that culminated to the posting of hundreds of thousands of foreign peacekeepers including the largest UN contingent that helped to end the war, and the fact that he was reinstated after being ousted by a military junta, brought a great sigh of relief to Sierra Leoneans and the international community alike.

What is at stake at this point in time, is the socio-political and economic empirical reality on the ground.

Sierra Leone needs to rise over and above the ding dongs of ethnic and regional politics in the first place. This should go hand-in-hand with the setting up of a recognised radical fringe in national politics and a radical labour movement that would prevent lumpens or wayward groupings intruding into politics that would culminate into a rebellion, a revolution or a war theatre.

Sierra Leone needs to tailor its management of the diamond sector after such successful prototypes like Botswana to enable the lesser than 5 million inhabitants to fully benefit from the pride of their country.

Dr. Kabba had a clear vision and bragged that his government will eradicate hunger in Sierra Leone, but he failed. This surmountable task should be the prerogative of the incumbent president, Ernest Bai Koroma, considering the fact that the country has rich soils and enjoys enough rainfall.

The above are sin quo non for the attainment of the sustainable development in Sierra Leone.

Published by Korir, API*APN africanpress@chello.no tel +4793299739 or +4763002525 source.apa

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