April 27th 2017.
Another year. Another Independence Day. Sierra Leone is now fifty six. 56 years of Independence.
Is there a reason to celebrate?
I only just moved back home less than a year ago, after spending a majority of my childhood in Kenya. I tend to see and hear from other young Sierra Leoneans living abroad…complaints about the country and how much it needs to be improved, and so on.
However, how can we be complaining when we are so withdrawn from the country? Surely, if we want to make positive changes in helping the country develop we have to prove it with actions?
When I moved back, I was excited- I would get to eat all my local delicacies that I had been missing all these years – canya, butterscotch, black tumbler, kill driver, granat cake, oleleh wit palm oil chai! The move also meant that I would be much closer to relatives, as well as the fact that wherever I went, I could count on hearing people speak in the most popular and widely spoken dialect – krio.
I was home.
But after being here a few weeks, it started to dawn on me how much the country had continued to deteriorate. I mean sure, the government had constructed various roads and highways- albeit by creating contracts with the Chinese, but that’s something right? Not enough. Basic necessities like water supply, and electricity are still a major issue and the fact that Freetown is massively overpopulated does not help. What are the solutions to these issues?
Not to mention youth unemployment. According to UNDP Sierra Leone, the youth population, aged 15-35, comprises one third of the population of Sierra Leone. Approximately 70% of youth are underemployed or unemployed and an estimated 800,000 youth today are actively searching for employment.
Despite all this however, I choose to be optimistic about the future. I choose to make my mark, however small. I refuse to let the media continue to portray my country as a nation only known for Civil War and Ebola. We are more than that.
As young people, we have to be the change we want to see. Investing in Sierra Leone is key to it’s growth and development.
Sierra Leone is a beautiful country on the West Coast of Africa with a great deal of potential. We have a plethora of stunning beaches, gorgeous forests and hills, rich culture, and nurturing citizens that are always willing to help.
Geniuses like Kelvin Doe, visionaries like Sorious Samura, and impeccable athletes like Hafsatu Kamara call Sierra Leone HOME. Are we not a land of great people?
I have the utmost faith that we will continue to grow as a nation, and overcome the negative connotations that constantly used to label our Country – Sierra Leone.
Enjoy this poem by a Sierra Leonean poet – Ustina More.
Happy Independence Day Sierra Leone and to all our beautiful people.