Despite the fact that Sorious Samura, a Sierra Leonean born videographer, recently embarked on a disingenuous campaign to destroy the image of our country, Sierra Leone and its leadership stand tall and proud with unprecedented achievements in the areas of anti-corruption, economic and infrastructural development; and an outstanding human rights record that is rare in the corridors of African power. Samura went to length, drafting in the services of the notorious Arab broadcaster, Al-Jazeera; a media house that has recently been embroiled in one controversy after another, to soil the good name of his country of birth. The interesting thing is, Samura did not engage in an adventure to find out the root causes of poverty that has struck right at the heart of the very society he was brought up in. Neither did Samura took on a mission to explore the rapid transformation taking place across the country that has seen roads built, free health care being provided, farmers being given access to tools to make them productive, or even major investment companies competing for a share of our country’s natural resources. Instead, Samura took on the issue of illegal logging!! And Al-Jazeera was ready to throw in its resources on a rather shabby and awkward production that lacks all the professional stints that normally accompany such drama!
The government of President Ernest Bai Koroma should be applauded for taking on the ills of our society and addressing the plague of corruption that has threatened the very fabric of our communities and our way of life. Corruption is something you find in every country. Some have a different way it is practised. And most of the countries who attempt to set a standard on good governance across Africa, are themselves experiencing their own form of graft and inept corrupt practices in government. When a government like the one in Sierra Leone, takes bold steps to address this issue by not only implementing draconian laws to go after culprits, but by setting a vivid example that have seen senior government officials being convicted and sacked, the world should understand that constraints are going to be apparent. A society that has only known corruption as a way of life for most of its recent history, cannot be suddenly ‘cleaned’ of this mess overnight. The government will definitely face obstacles. There are those whose survival depends on the corrupt practices of a few. The standard of living is extremely low in African countries, and for corruption to be abolished completely, this is an area that will need serious attention. You cannot expect people to live in poverty and not expect corruption to be prevalent. The question for now should be how to eradicate poverty, a situation created in some way by the bad and selfish policies of those who have the super-power to do just that!
It is indeed hypocritical of the West to make such extreme demands of our governments, some of which are normally backed by threats to withhold aid, when little is being done to give Africa access to world markets, and the conditions imposed to gain such are sometimes prescribed with ridiculous criteria! The U.S. congressmen who recently called for an investigations into the illegal timber logging issue, should probably redirect their precious energy in calling for equal opportunities for all, and embark on an exercise to ensure Africa’s voice is well heard in the global politics of the world economy! They might also want to find out why Africa is not a priority when its comes to U.S. Foreign Policy. Most importantly, they may also want to invest their time and effort in investigating how a known criminal and human rights abuser, Julius Maada Bio, who presided over the brutal killings of outstanding citizens of our country, got to be elected as Opposition Presidential candidate for the upcoming elections in 2012!! That will indeed be a worthy cause and a noble one which might probably get their constituents thinking they are putting taxpayers money to proper use. The U.S. Congress itself have in the past faced numerous scandals – no different from what is happening in some African countries. African poverty does not necessary mean the continent should become the punching bag of the West, or be used as a yardstick for the West to exert its influence or flex its muscle. America has enough problem of its own for a group of Congressmen to be concerned about what happens in the timber-land of a small West African nation.
Sierra Leone’s Head of State should be commended for making tremendous strides in lifting his people out of poverty. and should be spared the lecture on good governance when in fact most African leaders have nothing to show for their years in power. The man is trying hard, faced with the difficulties of years of abuse of the system he inherited from a gang of first-class embezzlers, calling themselves, the SLPP. One cannot expect him to wave a magic wand! He has started somewhere; there are of course setbacks; but should that take away the fantastic work he has done so far? Apparently not. The government needs help. But not in the form of threats! Encouragement, moral support, and more financial assistance to deal with such complex issues like corruption, can go a long way to help. Ernest Bai Koroma is one leader the West can use as an example of change across the sub-Saharan region! Understanding what african leaders face in their home countries when dealing with graft is crucial in how the west responds to a small case of corruption. Al-Jazeera’s incompetence has been clearly showcased in how its producers presented a botched documentary as a service to the Sierra Leonean community, in an attempt to reveal corruption in high places. Sorious Samura’s reputation is now in question after being accused of doctoring the whole episode with intent to cause maximum damage to the reputation of some of our most distinguished public servants.
Recent Wikileaks revelations, paints a nasty picture of western foreign policy. This has not even been addressed yet! But the quest to continue defining the path Africa takes in moulding its future, continues. Sierra Leone should be allowed to define its own future and its own way of life. The Sierra Leonean people witness each day how the leadership of their country embark on a serious agenda for change to restore their dignity as a people. How a government at work use the meagre resources at its disposal to change their standard of life. How one man, after inheriting an economy that was battered to stagnation by the previous SLPP government, is turning things round and making inroads in crucial areas of the country’s economic life. A program to change our country for good has started in earnest, and it is only right that those who are at the forefront in ensuring this happens, be given the time to complete this remarkable journey.
First Published on Newstime Africa: Dec 16, 2011
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