Scavenging Chicken in Freetown: Nothing New
By Abdul Suhood Komeh
All the time, you think Sierra Leone has survived the worst. But that false relief, always, only lasts till the next incident of calamity - the near inevitability of it all. Yet, we show or express minimal anger or none at all. As if we couldn't be better and therefore, undeserving of better.
When pictures and videos are circulated of our fellow countrymen/women, scavenging of all items, chicken from garbage dumps in Freetown, it has to wake us up. What's going on?
We all like nice and comfortable things. In fact, the human mind functions for improvement in circumstances, at every point in understanding. But a person of sound mind, fending for food/living from the waste and decay of their fellow man/woman is not due to a lack in pride, but the highest point of desperation. It simply means they've ran out of options. Nothing could be more difficult.
The most disappointing aspect of these latest photos is that they are not a depiction of a new low. Scavenging has had a presence in Freetown for quite a while now. Successive governments have done nothing about it because there's no serious health policy or the political will to change the miserable existence in some portions of the population is not there.
It's no mystery, the desperation of the people, disregarded and abandoned to scrape the barrel is tied to the political failure to provide them the means of a decent survival. The shock factor this time, thanks to the availability of technology and social media, our fellow citizens' forced wretchedness is easily captured, by handheld-devices and published unedited/uncensored more quickly, and to a wider audience.
But of course these pictures, as embarrassing and dehumanising as they are, wouldn't instigate any serious debate or raise questions for the government. Debacles of this nature happen so often now, they are the norm and no one is ever held accountable.
In fact, the likely uproar, if any arose at all, will be directed at those disseminating the images for the crime of subjecting Sierra Leone to shame and redicule in the outside world - warped African morality for you.
That a refuse dumping site is still located in the heart of the financial district of the capital, Freetown, is just a small indication of the lack of imagination and ambition of Sierra Leone's political class.
Our people's pride, dignity and humanity has been stolen from them by systemic political failure. One can only suppose that for as long as the majority is silent, that silence translates itself as all is fine and those in charge can just adjust the rose-tinted glasses in anticipation of the next election.
When is better coming, Sierra Leone, when?
Below: Photos of the frozen chicken in white boxes.