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'Diaspora' or Excluded Traitors?

By Abdul Suhood Komeh,
London, UK.

‘A penniless, property-less, useless “diaspora” are traitors, painting portraits of failure and poverty in a country of growing political success and wealth’, some are now saying.

What irritable dishonesty and disregard for people’s suffering.

Firstly, are we really a ‘diaspora’? I’m not so sure, but I respect the right to self-definition. I just think ‘diaspora’ is a bit hasty where clear and immediate ties to Sierra Leone exist - socially and culturally. And that case is made even stronger if you were raised and had your primary socialisation instilled there.

Regional/tribal accents and newly added words/phrases aside, most of us still speak close to perfect Creole - Creole, in my view is one of the premium signifiers of belonging to Sierra Leone.

Confidently, I can say, most of us have maintained touch in spells of better, and crucially, the relentlessly bad times of our recent story. Surely, that should keep us the right to an opinion, and a stake in how the country’s future is presided without being labelled traitors. Or, subtlely Othered a ‘diaspora’ to prolong our disenfranchisement. As if we are some 15 generations apart from the country.

Maybe for pragmatism, yes. Personally, I prefer not to be considered part of a ‘diaspora’. Especially since the political meaning of ‘diaspora’ now firmly means exclusion.

What’s most worrying about our country now is this. Not only has inglorious politics ensured a ceaseless production of gullible supporters, tragically, they are now fully coopted in the madness. It is them writing mendacious propaganda to lighten their political masters’ arrant failures. That is even though some of them live not in impoverished Sierra Leone, but enjoy the social security of Western democracies.

Their primary instinct is heedless loyalty for the maintenance of a failed status-quo. Their role is to nullify genuine concerns, expressed by citizens abroad who are frustrated that a country of such boundless potential can be continuously mismanaged to a postscript for world poverty and disease.
I mean, if the best you could come up with against someone else’s demand for change is to ask if ‘they are registered to vote?’, not because you’re outraged a fellow citizen’s franchise is unjustly seized, but because it advantages your personal interests, you’ve confirmed yourself not merely an accomplice but rot itself.

Make of it what you will. As quite the talkative, I’m not impartial here. Without the need to unspool a known tape of failure, ‘diasporan’ sociopolitical contributions hold a more convincing moral dimension than politicians and their supporters care to understand or admit. Majority of Sierra Leoneans abroad are actually doing just fine with most basics like food, healthcare, water, pocket-money etc. Which makes the bulk of their interventions solely out of love for country and decency to want better for fellow citizens. In fact, so undiminished is their faith in Sierra Leone as a project, some own homes, businesses and holiday there - a fillip to a constantly looted economy. That is even though they cannot vote! That, cannot be treacherous, but selfless integrity and as persistently rooted Sierra Leonean as Cotton Tree.