By Joseph Sherman, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, Salone Monitor, Washington, DC
In the last 55 years, Sierra Leone as a nation and Sierra Leoneans as a people have lived far below their potential for a variety of reasons. Though it has been 55 years since independence, nourishment, health and education are yet to be addressed for nearly half the population. But in the last year, there is a new sense of hope and expectation in Sierra Leone, and also in the world beyond. There is an opportunity to power ourselves into well-being because we have the synergy of youth.
As a nation, we have enough land, water, mountain, forest and, mineral resources – for seven million people. However, the only thing we have that will sustain the nation is people. If we leave this population uneducated, unfocused, unskilled and uninspired, we have a disaster in the waiting. But if we can transform this generation into a focused, capable, skilled and inspired population, we have a miracle in the waiting.
Sierra Leone has the opportunity to become a powerful nation. When I say powerful, it is not about a powerful army. It is just that we have the power, knowledge and capability to guide the world towards well-being. The rest of the world will naturally look towards Sierra Leone because always, right through ancient times, wisdom meant the world looked west, towards Sierra Leone. We should not lose this position. Becoming a powerful nation and empowering our people is a must; the possibility is right here. We are sitting on the
threshold of universal well-being.
Through this message, I request this of every Sierra Leonean citizen – whether you are in the country or you are living elsewhere. Realizing this great possibility will not happen just because of the leadership; it is important that every Sierra Leonean citizen stands up to make this happen. “How do I do it?” This will be the question. Regardless of what you do in your life – whether you are a farmer or a politician, a policeman or a doctor, a lawyer or an engineer – whatever job you do, do it well. This is the only way to build the nation. Nation building does not happen with great speeches or with slogans. Nation building happens because every one of us does whatever we are doing at a different level of functioning – whatever we do happens out of dedication and commitment to creating a new nation.
Here we are, sitting on a possibility, a threshold where we can move a huge mass of over seven million people from one level of living to another. This is a historic possibility; very few generations have ever had this opportunity. It is my wish that every Sierra Leonean should strive for this and make this happen. I particularly appeal to the political class in this country. Please do your politics at the time of election. The rest of the time, allow governments elected by the people – either in the center or in the provinces – to function in a sensible manner, in a way that will be beneficial for the people. Please let politics happen only one month before election time. The rest of the time, let every one of us work to make this nation into a great possibility. Let us show the needed courage and commitment to make this possibility into reality. This is not about nationality but of our humanity.
Nations are largely built on the identity of religion, race, creed or language. But we are a nation with a diversity of religions, races, ethnicity, creeds and languages. We are the most complex and unique nation, and we have been a nation for over 55 years. Though politically we may have been divided, culturally we have always been one nation. The fundamental thread has always been that we are a nation of seekers. It is very important that we maintain this uniqueness because if we look for sameness, we will try to become a land of believers. People believe in one thing, so they come together. But here, we have always been a land of seekers – seekers of truth and liberation. When you are a seeker, you are not aligned to any particular thing; you are aligned to the life process within you, and that never goes wrong.
In this seeking, we
found oneness because seeking is not something invented by you or me. Once survival is taken care of, every life – no matter how badly it has been contaminated with belief systems or with whatever else – will naturally want to know, realize and liberate itself because that is the nature of human intelligence. This nation was built and managed on this fundamental, and it cannot be destroyed as long as we keep this seeking alive. If you try to transform yourself towards belief and sameness, we will not be one. If we do not maintain this seeking, we will not have nationhood. It is my wish and my blessing on this 55th Independence Day that all of us realize what binds us as Sierra Leoneans. Let us maintain this ethos. It is only through this that we can enjoy the beauty of this diversity.