Thursday, June 5, 2014

Sierra Leoneans Classified as Most Unhappy Sub-Saharan Africans

Sierra Leone Man
Just a few years ago everything seemed to be going well for Sierra Leone. The brutal civil war was over and the people were hopeful of a brighter future with the feeling that the lessons of the war would prevent the mistakes of the past from ever being repeated again.

The optimism was predicated on the fact that the mineral economy was bouncing back, with diamond mining being resuming in the rich fields of Kono, the country's rich rutile mine was going into operation once again, iron ore mining was resuming after some 40 or more decades and there was great hope for the discovery of profitable deposits of crude oil.
President Ernest Koroma

This week however, a poll done by the reputable firm Gallup has found Sierra Leone to be among the unhappiest places to live on earth and currently the unhappiest place to live in Africa south of the Sahara.
The gallup study which measured negative emotions in 138 countries around the globe focused on the emotions people experienced the previous day. Specifically people were asked whether they experienced negative emotions such as anger,sadness, stress, pain, worry, etc. The answers were then used to compile a Negative Experience Index (NEI) for each country. The NEI was then used as a statistical measure of unhappiness in the country's in which the study was conducted.
Freetown Shanty towns

From the survey results, the only places in the world unhappier than Sierra Leone were Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Greece and Syria, countries rocked by either civil conflict, serious economic meltdown or a severe curtailing of personal freedoms.

The current government in Sierra Leone is engaged in a lot of infrastructural projects including the repair of roads, airports and stadiums. Unfortunately these infrastructural improvements have not gone simultaneously with improvements in living standards. Even as infrastructural projects are being touted, the standard of living of the masses continues to decline on a daily basis. The gap between the rich and the poor is now the widest it has ever been in the history of the country with youth unemployment hovering perpetually above 70%.

Even as those close to the corridors of power go around town in expensive cars and build palatial mansions around the country, the majority of the people are engaged in a losing battle for daily survival as skyrocketing food prices, lack of fuel, electricity, employment opportunities and some of the lowest wages on the face of the earth bring a sense of desolation and defeat to those not close to the powers that be. The situation is aggravated by high levels of corruption, official incompetence and insane levels of bribery expected from citizens for even the most basic of public services.
Slums of Freetown

The public sector consistently under performs primarily because public human resource recruitment and management is typically on the basis of nepotism, cronyism, and political payback rather than on the knowledge, skills credentials and ability to do assigned tasks. This official incompetence and unbridled corruption has seen the country reverse many of the democratic gains of the past decade.

The authorities in Sierra Leone are bound to dispute the validity of these Gallup poll results, but to the common man in the street this will be no surprise, as they have already coined a numerical term for it; 444.
Sierra Leone Diamonds

For a country free from civil conflict, these results are truly surprising, given that there are areas of Africa perpetually embroiled in one conflict or the other such as Congo DRC, Central African Republic, Sudan, etc.

Gallup is the most widely regarded polling organization in the United States. The poll can be read here

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