Empathy and patriotism: Great attributes for the next leader of Sierra Leone


In my life’s journey, I have realized many a time that academic credentials and experience, national and international laurels, have not done much to improve the lot of our people and country. Multiple academic accolades and experiences are yet to deliver the goods for our country and citizenry.

In our post-civil war/Ebola or 21st Century dispensations, most of the great development strides we have witnessed in our country are from President Koroma, a citizen with just a first degree from FBC. But with such a beautiful mind, he was able to set the pace for current and future generations of leaders, even for those with multiples of degrees, e.g. Masters and PHDs from international institutions.

In essence, I am always baffled when I hear others compare the likes of someone like Kandeh Yumkella as most qualified to lead out country, using the metrics of UN exposure. But don’t forget the failures our country encountered when we had two retired UN personalities at top leadership positions in our government starting from the late 1990s till President Koroma took power.

Please be reminded that Barak Obama did not have a UN experience background, but used his empathy and patriotism for America, to turn around a sinking American or even the global economy. He saved America and contributed immensely towards stabilizing the global economy from another great economic depression. It takes only empathy, patriotism, and a beautiful mind to change the deplorables.

Late President Siaka Stevens, using his wits and wisdom stated and also proved that “norto book make sense, na sense make book”. Let’s remember that the spate of institutionalized corruption started when he incorporated PhDs and other academics into his government. When he had the likes of Edward Kargbo and others, corruption was at voucher-gate levels. When he brought in the likes of Abass Bundu and others, it became squander-gate.

While academic education is important in leadership, it is not necessarily the be all and end all to run a nation. The skill sets in governing a nation are not quite the same as those required in working for a company or an organization, although there may be similarities in some aspects.

Sincerity in governance require EMPATHY, PATRIOTISM, and a BEAUTIFUL MIND. It requires overlooking other enticing lifestyles and overcoming opportunistic temptations. It requires putting your country first even though there may be a semblance of more lucrative opportunities elsewhere. It requires staying the course to help develop your country when called upon to do so.

My final advice is for us to be more realistic and truthful about what leadership our country needs. Having international exposure or spending donkey years in governance does not necessarily translate to good leadership. There are enough unsavory moments in the history of leadership in our country to help us know better. Remember our country can only be better if we are sincere not just with our instincts, but more importantly on how we promote leadership in our country. Do not forget that a nation is endowed with leadership of her own choosing. Ineptitude, deliberately backing the wrong horse based on ulterior motives can only lead to more unsavory outcomes.