By S. Momodu
I would like to strongly argue that the Sierra Leone flag is worth dying for. Let us have a quick quiz. Which African leader died some days ago while defending his country? Chad’s President Idriss Déby died of his injuries following clashes with rebels in the north of the country. He was 68 and the announcement of his death came a day after provisional election results projected that he would win a sixth term in office.
Spending more than three decades in power and serving as one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders is not the focus of this piece. The point is that he was no armchair warrior. He “breathed his last defending the sovereign nation on the battlefield”.
Back home in Sierra Leone, do we have people who have paid the ultimate price defending the country? Many! History is replete with the names of people who have died in various battles, including the rebel war, the war against Ebola, and now the war against Covid-19.
In many of my arguments, I have asked you (the reader) whether you are destined to be poor or whether the country is destined to be poor. If the answer is NO, the natural question is – What is wrong with us or what went wrong or what is going wrong?
Sixty years after independence, Sierra Leone is still grappling with lack of water, erratic power, poor roads, hunger, and more. On 27 April 1961, Sir Milton Margai led Sierra Leone to independence from Great Britain and became the country’s first Prime Minister. Thousands of Sierra Leoneans took to the streets in celebration. Sixty years after, is Sierra Leone today a grown-up or still a toddler? Did God give us rich agricultural land? Yes! Did God bless us with abundant rainfall? Yes! Did our Maker bless us with mineral resources? Yes! Now you answer these questions. Did God tell us to be greedy? Did God tell us to be corrupt? Did God tell us to “cut u cut, chap u chap”? Why are other countries developed?
Many people, including foreigners, have died for the Green, White, and Blue. Is the flag worth dying for? Indeed. You see, when we really have a clear sense of purpose for what we want to achieve, we can. So, where has Sierra Leone gone wrong? Leadership! Poor leadership. It is very easy to sound politically correct, but what would most of our politicians and other public officials do when they see crisp dollar bills? The evidence is depressingly overwhelming of how some contracts have been signed based on greed, how parcels of land have been taken from the poor masses for peanuts…how donor funds have been looted…most of the things in the country these days all lead to one word – CORRUPTION.
There are Sierra Leoneans, including some politicians, who truthfully have the heart to serve, but they are usually frustrated by those for whom corruption comes naturally. Why did we become independent? We do not disown our mouth because it stinks. Good leadership with a determination to succeed and put in place a country that works is what the country needs. It is my sincere hope that a serious government will put in place a system that will take care of the loved ones of people who die for the country’s flag, as well as set a day aside to remember them every year. May the souls of all those who have sacrificed their lives for the Green, White and Blue rest in peace.
By Amara Thoronka
The flag represents the nation. The Green-White-Blue is a true identity of Sierra Leone. It is common to see soldiers dying for their flags because of the recognition, respect and indelible legendary compliments that are generally associated with such nationalistic service. No wonder the extreme passion in the eyes of the soldiers, police officers, firefighters, health practitioners, diplomats and other national service providers of the United States, United Kingdom, France, and other developed or developing nations who are sensitive of national heroic acts or deeds. The question is the Sierra Leone flag worth dying for? I say no.
To start with, there are many university students and even graduates who can neither name nor tell you anything about heroes and heroines who gave up their pleasure, prestige and even precious lives all in the name of making Sierra Leone great. Also, there is no national holiday set aside to remember those, in diverse walks of life, who served our nation sacrificially. In addition, almost all of the very few monumental objects erected in honour of our national heroes are in deplorable condition unbearable for the nationalistic eyes to see. All those who gave their ultimate best in restoring peace to Sierra Leone after an eleven-year bloody and horrible interregnum are not in the lips of people.
Moreover, when the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) broke out in the country, many doctors and nurses did not have the requisite and essential epidemiological and clinical expertise to combat the virus; but being that they had subscribed to the Hippocratic Oath which ethically obligates them to save lives at all times, they decided to enter the clinical battlefield to fight the scourge even with the probability of losing their lives. Unfortunately, ten highly experienced doctors and a considerable number of nurses were killed by the virus. Sadly, there is still no tangible memorial mechanism for those medical practitioners. In fact, their families are struggling to have their well-served compensation and other deserving benefits. Some had to give up.
In Sierra Leone, heroes are not celebrated. They are less reverenced as their patriotic contributions are sometimes considered as foolish and unworthy of celebrating or commemorating. There are silent heroes and unsounded legends who served Sierra Leone faithfully at all times, defended her honour and good name, always walked for her unity and prosperity, and put her interest above all else. But their names have been concealed in the ungrateful books of history so that current and future generations will not learn about them and possibly emulate their fearlessness and high degree of nationalism.
This has hugely contributed to the selfishness and corruption in the nation. Many Sierra Leoneans feel that they should only concentrate on amassing wealth for themselves and their families at the detriment of the nation. Those that choose to be exceptional are constantly reminded that nobody would remember them after their sacrificial deeds. Some are even provokingly labeled as “Mama Salone” or “Papa Salone” because they are considered to be sacrificing in vain.
Politicians and those who steal from the nation are the only ones that are eulogized. Patriots are frustrated, victimized and sometimes descried as fools. It is excruciatingly painful for one to sacrifice one’s happiness and pleasure for the growth and development of one’s country only to be neglected and forgotten by one’s nation. Because patriotic and sacrificial deeds or acts are never remembered, the Green-White-Blue is not worth dying for.