NATIONAL VISION FOR SIERRA LEONE
CONTRIBUTION TO THE TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION
Following Sierra Leone’s independence from British colonial rule in 1961, politicians have embarked on paying lip services to the welfare of the messes, thereby rendering a potentially prosperous country, one of the world’s least developed. Sierra Leoneans have been deprived of their basic human needs including food, clothing and shelter. Their right to quality education, healthcare, nutrition and employment have been either restricted or carted off. This culminated to their loss of both physical and economic security, as they sailed through the torrents of a decade civil strife that saw a complete collapse in every facet of the Sierra Leonean society. Various reasons have been adduced to the cause of the war in Sierra Leone, ranging from juvenile delinquency, corruption, breakdown of law and order particularly among the security forces, to voraciousness of people in public offices. It may however, be appropriate to ascribe the causes of the war to bad governance.
Young people in Sierra Leone are standing on a divide, with one foot loosely planted in the quagmire of a decade of bloody war, from which they are just emerging, and the other on a solid ground of a newly established peace. Youths were denied the right to proper schooling, good healthcare, appropriate nutrition, suitable housing and other basic needs. That which obtained was a spectacle of politicians and authorities in public offices covetously holding onto power and meanly utilizing the resources of the nation. While their children attended expensive private schools, those of the entire masses were left to make do with deteriorating academic environment with hardly conducive atmosphere for learning in the public schools. A greater number of children dropped out of school while a considerable number never stepped the threshold of academia. It therefore becomes very simple to see why youths became easily susceptible and indulgent in the interregnum that benighted Sierra Leone.
The bitter memories of the brutal war that started in 1991 and in which they were major and active participants, make the youths step with more enthusiasm on the solid terra firma of peace. This is underpinned by their experience of adult manipulation that lured and exposed them to the sinister war. They were subsequently betrayed and neglected to endure the physical, economic, social and above all psychological pains during and in the aftermath of war. With the end of the war, and having gone through the reintegration process accompanied by their enhancement with some form of skilled training, we are now left to face the hard reality of how many of the youths are gainfully employed and self-reliant.
The school-going youth population are desirous of getting quality education that will equip them to meet the challenges of technological advancement. It is however depressing to note that the educational system in Sierra Leone is highly handicapped in terms of physical structure, educational materials and equipment, high cost of living and poor conditions of service for the teachers.
There is the need for education to be prioritized if Sierra Leone is to climb the ladder of development. The government of Sierra Leone should seriously consider providing affordable education to all Sierra Leoneans as a means of reconciliation and upholding the tenets of sustainable peace in Sierra Leone.
Independent Sierra Leone has traversed through coups and countercoups, which have effectively punctuated the development of this nation. The obvious reason advance for the army’s meddling with politics has been neglect of the welfare of security personnel. Other vices that have contributed to this ugly scenario include the attitudes of corrupt superiors, sectionalism and tribalism in the security forces. Rather than defending the territorial integrity of the nation, personnel of the Sierra Leone Army had turned against their people in the guise of revolutionaries, to enjoy the splendour of political power.
The step taken to restructure the Republic Sierra Leone Armed Forces must be reinvigorated to ensure that Sierra Leoneans are provided with lasting peace. Special attention should be given to the welfare of military personnel and it should b made to burn in their minds whatever form they may taken, military coups are just unacceptable.
Corruption has been the main bottleneck to the development of Sierra Leone and the underlying factor that bred the Sierra Leonean war. It is so entrenched that wiping it out would seem impossible in the near future. The fact remains that pertinent stakeholders are themselves so ingrained in the malady that the corruption syndrome could hardly be given the serious treatment it deserves. Government’s absolute resolve in supporting and cooperating with the Anti Cooperation Commission will however help to remedy the situation and hence ensure the concretization of the bedrock of lasting peace. The judiciary’s role in providing justice to all is of crucial significance in this stratum.
The national vision for Sierra Leone must be a focus on the causes of the decade of war and positively utilizing the lessons learnt in order to ensure a nationalistic resolve to embark on patriotic attitudinal development.
Presented by RECEIVED BY
ABDUL RAHMAN KARGBO GAVIN SIMPSON
30A OLD RAILWAY LINE TRC RESEARCH
BROOKFIELDS 11TH NOVEMBER 2003