SIERRA LEONE MUST LIVE ITS TRUTH
By Abdul Suhood Komeh (pictured left)
'Truth carries within itself an element of coercion', so says Hannah Arendt. I don't recall ever reading anything significant by her, but have come across the line plenty times. It's now a favourite. And it's one that I think Sierra Leoneans should adopt if we are to begin the needed change.
Ebola nearly obliterated us. Yet there is no serious drive towards achieving a manageable sanitation policy. We scavenged chicken without any fear for our health and that of our neighbours. Contagion means nothing to us. 'Nar God dae kill', we say.
Allegedly, a tragic young woman's mutilated body was found, abandoned, in a Freetown dump. We hailed, 'Lord, have mercy on Sierra Leone'. And we moved on. Policing resources are scarce. There will be no meaningful investigations. Life is Cheap, is the culture - politically and socially.
To the bereaved family, sympathisers will say 'nar God dae gee pikin, nar God dae take am' (the Lord giveth, the the Lord taketh). And we've all moved on since.
When reported that some of our fellow citizens have ran out of victims and reduced themselves further to desecrating graves in the hope of stealing valuables on the dead, our audio-bloggers released Quranic recitations for redemption. 'Ameen', was the response from the masses as we all moved on to await the next horror.
No one is interested, in what could've driven someone to expend so much energy, dug up a decomposing body, risk disease, for a robbery attempt that might not yield anything worthy of the unethical toil.
'Me piple dem, leh God hep we,' was the comforting cry.
More horrific (though unproven), there's another explanation to the grave excavations. It may not be related to valuables. But the collection of human organs, suspected in the case of the abandoned girl's body. All connected to rituals in African mythology for attaining wealth, power and influence. Blindfolded minds.
In disbelief, 'Papa God, weytin dae happen nar dis country?' (God, what's happening in this country?), punctuated the outrage.
Answer: What's happening in this/that country is, we live, limp from one painful episode to the next without bothering to find lasting solutions. We blame not those responsible, or our culpability in creating the mess, but cry, and pray for Divine intervention. What a blackmail of God!
Quickly, we talk about being 'blessed' with mineral resources and other phantom-wealth engines like a Bunbuna hydroelectricity that we cannot forge to illuminate our lives and surroundings, nor power a 'prosperity' that has recently been flipped by its authors, to an austerity agenda that cannot wait another day.
Yet still, 'nar God nor more go save we country' (only God can save Sierra Leone).
But, the news is, there's a quiet minority asking, can we grow up now, please?
It might sound inappropriate to some and I do apologise for any offence. But in relation to Sierra Leone, I think God deserves a break. It cannot be right to implicate him/her in every foolishness of our making.
The idea that God gave us banana but he/she has to physically appear, in a mosque/church/classroom in Kissy, or any other hungry corner of Sierra Leone to illustrate how to peel it, and eat it, is pitiful.
The first truth we must tell ourselves is, what's happening now in Sierra Leone has nothing to do with God looking away as we perish. But Sierra Leone living its truth.
None of the reported crimes are new, or unique to Sierra Leone. Tomb or grave robbery has been going on around the world, including Sierra Leone, for centuries. Its re-emergence, or shall we say its increase in Sierra Leone alongside other robberies, youth violence and suspected ritual killings should be expected when we create a society this desperately poor. Expecting otherwise is a denial; a failure to understand the human being. These crimes are symbolic of societies that fail to attain political and economic maturity for its people.
In the words of Thomas Paine, 'our calamities are heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer'. In other words, if we subscribe to bad politics, there's a price attached: abject poverty and inevitable loss of dignity.
The day we acknowledge the truth of our situation, with all sincerity, a forceful demand for better will begin.
Until then, my guess is, 'God' may have better things, like a diamond and iron-ore deprived, and hurricane-destroyed Haiti on his/her mind ahead of a wasteful Sierra Leone. So just for the heck of it, 'truth carries within itself an element of coercion.'