Freetown Floods: Serious Policies, Please!
By Abdul Suhood Komeh,
Footage of floods in Freetown with a number of fatalities reported. Episodic reminder that Sierra Leone, Freetown in particular, is most vulnerable to environmental disasters. But I’m not sure the threat is taken seriously. The very few who call for a declaration of climate emergency are dismissed as idle ranters, who are failing to grasp that ‘there are better things to do’. This perverse logic is so simple, it’s simply saying preparation is western, and futile-reaction is African.
As is usual, we are waiting for a catastrophe that shoots us up (again!) on international broadcasts to invoke pity and sorrow; to take advantage of, to some considerable extent, the perpetual poverty - thought and circumstances - our leaders have continuously tethered the country: ‘oh this people have gone through so much’, and blah, blah, blah.
Our only plan for the chronic lack of vision and anticipation is to rehash the old rituals: the national anthem preambles a speech by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and part-time President, to tell the international community, especially the West, how resilient we are if they could just help us mourn another avoidable calamity with more aid. And as if to point out the obvious vacuousness in the speech, more money will arrive but only after a white person is dispatched to give us a lecture on Googleable measures on flood prevention. Because we are too thick to note that the world is now mostly focused on dealing with extreme weather and its consequences.
Sierra Leone is such a sad place, evidence abound. The unfortunate part is, it’s the citizens themselves who are devising the myopic spin that all is, and will be fine if only we all support their tribe.
We are the only people who court valour by inflicting suffering on ourselves and translate the hopeless and helpless suffering of the aftermath as resilience.
The most advanced of societies with far more resilient infrastructure are battered mercilessly, almost on a monthly basis and in turns. The questions are, what is our ‘government’s’ policy or readiness? It does not have to be perfect, but do we have one? To what privilege is ’government’ thinking on the environment? Why is dwelling still allowed in Bay? And forget the ‘government’ for a second. What is the main opposition’s proposal on tackling climate change?
I will leave you with a quote from my favourite hip-hop group:
Don‘t believe the hype, it’s a sequel - Public Enemy.