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Reflection: Exploring President Koroma’s Independence Day Speech - “A beacon of hope”

04,May 2017
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By Jonathan Abass Kamara

The April 27, 2017 Presidential Independence Day, Anniversary speech can be best described as a farewell historic speech to the nation, noting that except otherwise, come March 2018 General Elections we shall by the results of the elections see a new President delivering his maiden Independence Anniversary speech for 2018.

Exploring President Koroma’s speech to the nation my ‘take’ is going to be on his call for the building of a “New Sierra Leone”.

President Koroma is about to take his exit and leave the mantle of leadership for his successor. A successor with high hopes of prosperity for a country once described as the fastest growing economy.

I am deliberately not going to dilate on the challenges and constraints faced by the government during President Koroma’s tenure because the fundamental truth is that in spite of the numerous challenges he did well in sensitive areas of national development and will not bother myself.

Let me however hasten to make a clear pointer to the Ebola outbreak and its effect on the economy and human resource development. It is true that the Ebola met a fragile or rather weak health system and disrupted business in the hotels other businesses and the mining sector, killed vulnerable people young and old including children as well as medical professionals.

The tragedy caused by the Ebola necessitated a change of leadership in the Health Ministry including other reasons that urgently urged President Koroma to go on a nationwide sensitization and social mobilization campaigns, engaging communities that helped to mount commitment on community ownership and the reduction of preventable deaths.

In the Post Ebola era he initiated the Presidential Recovery Priorities, a strategy, development partners believed to be trust worthy. The 10-24 months Recovery Plan in my estimation is good and I pray that the wish of the President for a new Sierra Leone will come true.

In his speech, he spoke of a free National Ambulance Service in health service delivery and many other good things executed in the area of education with the birth of more universities, road networks linking feeder roads and communities, improved electricity and water supply and agriculture to name a few.

Clarion call for a New Sierra Leone

The clarion call for a new Sierra Leone with a brighter tomorrow is the most welcoming message in the President’s speech embraced by me.

I listened recently to one of our International Journalist and Theatre Artist, Sierra Leonean born Sorious Samura on AYV Radio on Monday April 24, 2017 on a mission to change the narratives history of Sierra Leone to a new Sierra Leone through a movie to be jointly produced with Charley Haffner of Freetong Players fame.

According to him the military, the media, musicians and politicians have tried to change the system but still there is problem of economic growth and prosperity. He followed the line of the President by saying that one man cannot change Sierra Leone. “It is a collective work”. Not President Koroma alone, not SLPP, not APC, but an investment in human capital to change the mind set of Sierra Leoneans. He said we should dissociate from the belief that “Monkey nor di leffim black han”, and focus on “Usai we buk foot”, noting also that the President’s Attitudinal Change Strategy has no clear definition as to what needs to be changed. This country he said must not be a donor-driven country, and that the old adage: “Arbaige, arbaige, me yai turn so, as aropin me yaiar see som tin” must be a thing of the past. Their movie project, he said is directed to the negative mind set of Sierra Leoneans and hopefully will be launched in June 2017.

Sorious Samura spoke about how the film Sarafiner changed the mind set of people, and inspired international attention to the Apartheid crisis in South Africa and brought solace in the country.

The Sorious Samura/Charley Haffner’s film project on Sierra Leone is towing the same line of President Koroma’s call for collective effort for the building of a new Sierra Leone. He said in his speech - “I am confident that our future is bright. As a nation, we will stride into a brighter tomorrow and burnish our credentials as a symbol of resilience, an example of perseverance and a beacon of hope”. Sure, that Sierra Leone will rise again but to sustain the renewal we must work even harder and more collectively to consolidate the peace, foster national cohesion and generate more of our own revenue.

The New Sierra Leone

My take for a brighter future and a brighter tomorrow for the development of Sierra Leone can only be achieved with the undermentioned: Firstly, we should have positive mind set for the development of the country. Not a situation where solar panels and cables are stolen for selfish interest, water pipes are damaged, materials for roads construction are robbed, the youths not focused, resort to cliques, cultism, above all, not development oriented. These are the people we look forward to for a brighter tomorrow, yet the ocean depth is very challenging.

I believe God is ready to negotiate a wind of change for the development of Mama Salone. Sierra Leone must move to the next level. I’m optimistic that God will beautify Sierra Leone with a God-fearing and development oriented leader like President Koroma if Sierra Leoneans are ready for a change of attitude by faith and patriotism.

The election for a change is around the corner. The country is now in the face of political fire. It is time to change our mentality. We cannot continue to be wicked to ourselves. We should not be luke warm anymore. We should stop being in the attitude of gratitude when there is obstacles of austerity.

God is ready to negotiate a wind of change. He needs our collective efforts, and men of God must be ready to sound the gospel truth with their trumpets by preaching the word of Mama Salone’s salvation in their various mosque and churches on a daily basis, and there will be harvest for all.

The promise of God must come to pass. But are we ready for the change?

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