Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Saint Paul Minnesota Snow Emergency

SAINT PAUL HAS DECLARED A SNOW EMERGENCY.

Visit StPaul.gov/snow or Call 651-266-PLOW (7569) for complete information.

On 12/29/15 beginning at 9:00 P.M., all NIGHT PLOW ROUTES will be plowed. This includes all arterial or main streets posted with signs that say "NIGHT PLOW ROUTE" and one side of all north-south residential streets posted with signs that say "NIGHT PLOW ROUTE-THIS SIDE OF STREET".

On 12/30/15 beginning at 8:00 A.M. all DAY PLOW ROUTES will be plowed. This includes all non-posted east-west residential streets and the non-posted side of north-south residential streets.

Parking is banned until streets are plowed full width. Ticketing and towing will begin at 9:00 P.M. the day the snow emergency is declared and continues until parking restrictions are removed. For more information visit our website at www.StPaul.gov/Snow.

Please shovel your sidewalk to help those who have trouble getting around. If you are a corner property owner please shovel the walkways to the street. City ordinance requires you to keep your sidewalk free of snow and ice.

Si aad u heshid macluumaad, fadlan booqo bogagga luqadaha badan ee laga helo bogga internetka degdegga barafka www.StPaul.gov/snowlanguages.

Xav paub ntxiv ua Lus Hmoob, thov mus xyuas cov vas sab ua ntau hom lus sau txog kev kaus te kub ceev www.StPaul.gov/snowlanguages.

Para obtener información en español, visite las páginas web multilingües en el sitio web de emergencias causadas por la nieve en www.StPaul.gov/snowlanguages.

Please share this information with family, friends, neighbors, or co-workers!

Thank you!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Santa Claus-Father Christmas

Santa Claus
When we were children we never knew him as Santa Claus. The portly man in the bright red suit with the white fluffy cotton trim and the thick snow-white woolly beard. The jolly red Saint Nicholas.

Back in Sierra Leone, we called him "Father Christmas."  Methinks the name Santa Claus was either too foreign or the title Father Christmas was much easier to understand and relate to. Only those from very educated families called him Santa Claus. Back where we grew up there were not many of those.
As opposed to USA where there is usually a live Santa Claus at each major mall, it was very difficult to see a real Santa Claus or Father Christmas on the streets of Freetown in those days.

In the first place Santa Claus' suit is more fitted to the colder wintry climes. Even though we had the Harmattan wind blowing from the Sahel through Guinea into Freetown around that time,  Santa Claus' suit was a major inconvenience to wear on the warm dusty streets of Eastern Freetown.

Secondly, Santa carried some weight. Sierra Leone is not renowned for portly men, except the politicians or very senior civil servants, in which case they wouldn't want to dress like Santa around Christmas. In Sierra Leone important people behaved like important people. That is what was expected.

Finally Santa was white, or so the pictures portray him. Finding a portly white man to dress like Santa  Claus in Freetown those days would have been close to a miracle. The nearest we had to whites in Freetown were our Lebanese and Syrian brothers and the Indians. However, this group were either Muslims or Hindu. They were definitely not your typical "Father Christmas" crowd.
Father Christmas

So if we could find one in those days, we usually had the lean, black Santa Claus who was prone to taking too many Star Beer bottles. We grew up thinking, mistakenly, that Santa was a drunk. In Freetown those days, Santa was almost always drunk. We had lean black Santas with a fondness for beer or illicit brew.

As a child, I never really liked Santa Claus or Father Christmas. Not that it was really my fault. Santa Claus in my young opinion only cared for the rich kids in Samaria School,  and I was not one of them. After the Christmas holidays, when we all went back to school,  the rich kids would always have the most beautiful toys left by Santa under their Christmas trees. Now if I had completed primary school in my hometown Segbwema, that wouldn't have been a problem, as Santa Claus never went to Segbwema. But I was dragged to Freetown for schooling at an early age and grew up to know that Santa Claus came to town around Christmas bearing gifts. For the rich children he brought the coolest toys.  For the poor children, he brought the small plastic bag full of tiny green soldiers with guns. Somehow, Santa's gifts always seem to reflect how wealthy your parents were. So I grew up thinking that Santa did not like poor kids. The poor kids got those green toy soldiers for Christmas and after the holidays you would find them everywhere. Santa brought them to Freetown in abundance.

This Christmas Santa would not be making many trips to the Middle East. Islamic fundamentalism is making that area of the world a very dangerous place for Christians. It is at times like this that the world can learn a lesson or two from Sierra Leone. You see in Sierra Leone we may have our many problems,  but we have enormous respect for other people's beliefs.
 
We live in the same communities, Muslims and Christians. On Friday the Muslims take over the towns and on Sundays the Muslims do. When we pray in schools and meetings, we leave room for religious democracy. Muslims pray and Christians pray. If you don't want to pray you keep quiet and respect the rights of those who want to pray. That's the way it is and hopefully that's they way it will always be. Jesus said love your neighbor as you love yourself. Christians in Sierra Leone practice this. The Quran instructs Muslims to tell those who do not believe that, "your way is yours and my way is mine." Sierra Leone Muslims believe this.
This Christmas all we ask for is a little religious tolerance.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas 2015: A Salone Man in Minnesota

Today I woke up to snow on my doorsteps. Sometime during the night, the snow had come like an unwelcome stranger and dumped four inches of fluffy stuff in our backyard. If we had listened to the forecast, we would have gone to bed expecting the snow. Unfortunately, yesterday we came across an old Sam Fan Thomas Album on YouTube, "African Typic Collection" and it was all that we listened to. Sam Fan Thomas, Youssou N'dour, Oliver Ngoma and S.E Rogie. Those four can make even a drab Christmas feel great.

This morning, I dragged my boots through the slippery snow, came out of the driveway and looked out down the street, marvelling at the uniformity of the whiteness, feeling sorry for the struggling drivers who would always find an excuse to postpone that tire change until the first major snow fall. Snow and smooth tires engage in a  type of dance that no driver wants to get in.The snow always wins. Always.

I can guarantee that this morning, the folks at Discount Tires will have a brisk business. That's just the way life is. One man's inconvenience is another man's gain. If a mortician tells you business is slow, it simply means people are not dying quickly enough.

Sierra Leone and Minnesota on Christmas day are like two planets in different universes. Minnesota Christmas is white, windy and cold, with survival aided by mashed potatoes, green beans, turkey and gravy. On the cold Christmas night the police are always on patrol, to make your Christmas just a little bit more exciting if you had too much to drink.
Christmas in Sierra Leone is almost always sunny and dry. And oh, the food. Potato leaves, cassava leaves, that ubiquitous jollof rice. Not forgetting the Christmas three; Star Beer,  Heineken and Guinness. If you can't get these don't worry,  there is alway the reliable two, "Poyo" and "Omolay."
In Sierra Leone, most Christmases, we just celebrate being alive.
"Happy Christmas we nor die yo"
"Happy Christmas we nor die yo"
"Tell God tenki for we life oh"
"Tell God tenki for we life oh"

This 2015 Christmas in Sierra Leone, all the thanks to God for being alive are genuine. After the year long terrible Ebola virus scare that killed thousands, anybody who survived that terrible plague definitely has a reason to be thankful. This year there is truly a reason to tell "God tenki for we life oh."

My Bo School mate Allie Kabba, an aspiring Sierra Leone national politician was arrested on Christmas eve. In Sierra Leone popular people are not arrested.  We make it sound more civilized, more acceptable. He was invited to CID for questioning. Unfortunately he had to sleep overnight to complete the interview.
Allie Kabba has for long been one of the heroes of the injustice that has always been part of the history of Sierra Leone. Every generation has their heroes. Allie is a hero of this generation. Unfortunately Allie got involved in some complex bedroom politics. In Sierra Leone the dichotomy between national and bedroom politics is usually opaque. You just have to be careful whose bed you hop in. But as they say, you can't keep a good man down.

Christmas day in Freetown was horrible  for people living by the Safecon Gas Station at the popular Shell Company. Loud explosions rocked the quiet morning as fire ripped through the station creating an inferno, seen for miles,  that the local fire force was unable to tackle. They did their best with what they had. But unfortunately people could just watch as nature worked its damage. At the end, millions of Leones worth of damage and many severe injuries were left in its wake.

Sierra Leoneans are a tough people. War, poverty, disease, we've this had our fair share but each new year, we hope that thinhs will get better. This 2016 things may just get better. It is all that we can hope for.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Soccer Gala lifts Spirits in Segbwema

Home Based Warriors
Therefore was no better place to have been in Sierra Leone this Christmas day for soccer/football loving fans than in the Eastern Region city of Segbwema!
Paramount Chief Sheriff Coker Jajua

In a 90 minute hard fought slugfest held at the Segbwema town field, the visiting holiday makers team held the dynamic home based players to a surprising 3-3 draw in one of the most exciting matches the town has seen in a long while, much to the dismay of the spectators who had expected the home based to win by a significant margin.
Visiting Rangers

Following the kickoff by Njaluahun's dynamic Paramount Chief Sheriff Coker Jajua I, many people expected soccer maestro Brima Kallon and his relatively young home based squad to make easy work of the veteran holiday makers, some of whose active soccer days were well in the past. But in a classic case of experience over youthfulness, the visiting rangers nearly won the day, but for a controversial last minute penalty awarded to the home based team very close to the 90 minute mark.
Battu Leading Support 

The visiting side opened the scoring with a first half shocker by Alpha Tigana Mambu, when he deftly manauvered a Julius Foday pass around the stuned home based goalkeeper. The situation was not helped by a second crafty goal from the visitors netted by Thomas Allieu. The home based, not to be outdone, netted one against the visitors and the first half ended with a 2-1 scoreline in favor of the visitors.
Getting Ready

During the second half, the home based team put up an astounding performance but were able to find the net only once. By the end of the match the visitors were leading 3-2 on the strength of a third goal by Emmanuel Konuwa. However near the end of the game the home based were awarded a late penalty kick which they swiftly converted into a redeeming goal, leaving the visiting rangers stunned, resulting in a 3-3 tie.
Discussing Tactics

The mood around the field was festive throughout and many spectators felt that both teams deserved the draw.
The match was organized by the Njaluahun Development Organization under the auspices of the dynamic Paramount Chief Sheriff Koker Jajua. The end of the match was however met with news of a massive gas station explosion in Freetown and many people were worried about friends and relatives around that area of Freetown.

On Saturday the Njaluahun Development Organization will have a major meeting in Segbwema to discuss development issues related to the town.

From the Segbwema Correspondent
Segbwema Blog
Copyright 2015.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Trump Presidency: What a World that will be.

The Great Trump 
The thought of a Trump Presidency is by equal parts interesting, funny and scary. Imagine a leader of the free world who basically says anything thing that comes to mind, without thinking about the ramifications or the consequences of his words. He just says it like it is.

A President Trump would ban all Muslims from coming to the United States. That would include a ban on almost the entire Middle East with possibly the  exception of Christian Arabs and Israelis. This would of course not be including Arab Israelis who are mostly Muslims. It would also be a ban on possibly half of Nigerians or even half of the African continent, including the whole North Africa. It would be a Ban on almost all Indonesians, Malaysians, Pakistanis, Indian Muslims and Chinese. It would be also be a ban on most of the Bosnian population and a significant population of Europe. Now imagine if those countries responded by imposing retaliatory bans on the movement of Americans into their country? The world would sudden become a very small place to visit with an American passport. But does Trump care?

Trump would go to the Middle East bomb the oils fields of Iraq and take their oil, while at the same time banning most of them from coming to America. No movie script could be this cool.
The Greatest 

Now let us take Trump's plan for our neighbors, the Mexicans. According to Trump, the Mexican government for many years has been sending mostly the rejects of that country's society; the murderers, rapists, thieves, drug dealers and other bad types across the border into America. Most of the good Mexicans have stayed back in the home country while America has played home to those with the most evil of vices. Under a Trump Presidency all this would stop. A mighty wall will be built that will rival the Great Wall of China. He would do this of course, as he has been building all his life and he truly knows how to build.
Trump's wall will simply be the best the world has ever seen. After building the world he would calculate the entire cost, draw up an invoice, and hop on Air Force One, and fly on to to Mexico City. Where in an elaborate ceremony he will present the bill for the construction of the wall to the Mexican President. All relations with Mexico will be suspended until they pay the American government for the full cost of constructing the Great Wall of America. They will have to pay, as they will have no other option,  says Trump.
Trump may ban Winter 

For the Chinese, Trump has a plan to impose all types of barriers to trade and it would no longer be business as usual.  The Chinese have been winning for so long in all trade negotiations while America,  under weak leadership has been losing. Under Trump this would no longer happen. There would be restrictions even on the importation of fortune cookies and sweet and sour sauce. America will be winning once again,  all because of Trump. The Chinese will be forced to accept any trade condition Trump thought was fair
For our greatest enemy of all time, terrorist group ISIS, their days would be over the day Trump attends the swearing-in-ceremony. He would simply carpet bomb them into oblivion, civilians be damned.  He would nuke them if necessary. What's the use of a nuclear bomb if you can't use it?

The Russian President would of course be Trump's major ally, as he respects Trump, and the admiration is mutual. Together they would implement their individual nationalistic policies and grand agenda for the world, and both America and Russia would be great again, under the strong leadership of Trump and Putin. The  rest of the world be cowering in fear. It would be a glorious moment for strong leadership.

Trump has a simple plan for the millions of illegal immigrants in America. He is sorry, but they will have to go. All 11 million illegal immigrants will be loaded onto planes, boats, rafts and ships,  to be deported from America. If necessary they will walk to the American border. No amnesty, no exception. All children born by illegal immigrants in America will no longer be American citizens. America will still have legal migrants, but just no Muslims, Hispanics and poor Africans.

For the American poor and the disabled, their days of enjoying society's entitlements would soon be over. There would be no Obamacare. If you don't have a job, you don't get health insurance. Food stamps would be cut and the government would no longer be responsible for anybody. The government aint nobody's daddy. Everybody will have to tighten up their belts and work. Poverty will be eliminated by force as Donald Trump would be the greatest jobs creation President the world has ever seen. He will will force poverty out of America.

Some years ago, anybody who would have said all the things Trump has said over the past few months would have been laughed off a Presidential campaign forum. Unfortunately as of now, Trump is  the leader of the Republican race for the presidency of the  United States of America, and his lead appears to be unassailable. If Trump wins the Republican nomination and somehow were to go against all odds and become President, we are in for some interesting,  funny and scary four years. We just have to wait and see how much damage the Tea Party crowd is willing to impose on America in their bid to take their country again.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Trump has the Republican Party in a Choke Hold

I'm the Best
From yesterday evening there has been a parade of Republican big Whigs, all eager to get on TV and Cable networks and get the opportunity to publicly denounce Donald Trump's statement that there should be a ban on all Muslims entering the United States, even though he modified his stance today by stating that the ban would just be a temporary measure. According to Trump, there is no other choice.

Many Republican establishment leaders were on TV yesterday morning stating that Trump's statements did not reflect American values. Some stated that his views did not represent who they were and issued similar statements of condemnation, even though it must be pointed out that none of them came out outright to stated that because of this and other past incendiary rhetoric, if Trump were to ever become the party's presidential candidate they would not support him. Only few major Republican donors have come out to say as much. The rest of the Republican establishment is left confused and unable to react in any meaningful way to a candidate who is sounding like a far right nationalist fringe candidate every day, but still dominates the party polls by a wide margin.

Over the past few months, Donald Trump has decided to let correct political talk aside and touch raw nerves by saying exactly what many in the Republican Party secretly believe but most of their candidates are too scared to say. 
No Muslims in USA

Trump starting by launching a frontal assault on Mexican immigrants as mostly being the worst sort of criminals their country breeds; petty thieves and rapists, who their own government was eager to get rid off and was only too happy to push them to the US. To control the influx of these criminal elements he would build a wall which he would force the Mexican government to pay for. He then attacked one of the most respected members of the Republican Party Senator John McCain as not being a war hero but spent most of the war as a prisoner. He has even less respect for the other Republican contenders. In his view they were all either too weak, low energy, didn't have a clue or were just outright stupid.

In Trump's view, the solution of the problem in the Middle East was to bomb the areas and "take their oil." Remarkably, in spite all these outlandish statements, Trump's fate in the polls has only been boosted by the extremity of his incendiary  statements.  Now political pundits are saying once again that Trump may have finally reached his Waterloo by calling for an outright ban on Muslims entering the country and sounding everyday like the European fascist leaders who dragged their countries into the bloodbath and global catastrophes that were the First and Second World Wars.

But is Trump fading really true or is it just what the party establishment and the media would like to see? As far as I can see, Trump,s momentum currently seems unstoppable and he is just energizing the same crowd who for years have been led to believe that President Obama was born in Kenya, that the President was a Muslim and that Muslim values were totally un-American, the same crowd that gave us Senator Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and the rest of the Tea Party politicians. Only this time they seem to have found a Presidential candidate they can believe in.

Wise men say you reap what you sow. For many years the Republican establishment has allowed Tea Party rhetoric to slowly replace their compassionate conservative message. They have had politicians like Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann tell their traditional voters that this country was no longer theirs and they have to "take it back." Politicians like Ted Cruz have been beating the drum all these years that Christian values were under attack by liberal leftist ideologues. Fox News has spent the last five years stoking every fear of a people who feel that their conservative ways were under attack, their religious institutions were under assault and alien ways were taking over the country. If you think that Donald Trump is extreme, then you must not have been listening to people like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, and the spin masters of right wing ideology who have for years preyed on the fears of the conservative base that Obama and his left wing liberal, Muslim loving and Christian hating ideologues were out to tear down their values. There has even been talk of Obama trying to secretly allow the imposition of Sharia Law into the country.

Many people today see what Trump is saying and draw parallels with Hitler's rhetoric that drew the world into the most bloody conflict in the history of mankind. Unfortunately Trump has just given popular face to the teachings of Beck, Hannity, Limbaugh and the rest of the conservative ideologues. He has at last brought Tea Party ideology into the mainstream and the establishment is panicking. Isn't it any wonder that even where the party establishment gives these weak denunciations of Trump, Fox News, the major party mouthpiece never outrightly condemns him, but would instead shift the focus on Benghazi and Black Lives Matter? Is it any surprise that best Selling Conservative authors Ann Coulter and Sarah Palin have both endorsed Donald Trump? Ann Coulter is one of the best selling conservative authors in this country. Is there anything Trump says that Coulter has not said or written in her popular books?

The Republican Party has for many years courted fringe hate groups at the local level to win elections. Now that hate has come on the national stage, propagated by a candidate who does not give a damn about what anybody thinks as long as he is appealing to his audience, they are all rushing to say " this is not who we are!" Well the truth is this may not be who you are, but unfortunately this is what you have become. If you don't see yourself this way, take a mirror and look very closely,  because this is what many of us see when we look at you. As they say, you reap what you sow.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Will there Ever be world Peace?

World Peace
When you watch beauty pageants there is always that one question or answer regarding world peace. Through the world's conflicts over time, from the wars of Alexander the Great to the battles of  Napoleon Bonaparte, to the two devastating World Wars and the endless conflicts in Africa, there has always been the pacifists, the idealists, those who imagined a world devoid of conflict, a world in which tranquility will one day the the dominant order. A world of Peace, Love and Harmony

The great John Lennon of the Beatles imagined a world where there are no countries and no religions, the two things responsible for most of the conflicts of the past two centuries. He imagined a world where there will be peace.
Martin Luther King Jr.

Luciano the reggae maestro told us to imagine a world where there was no war, a world where everybody knows what they are living for, a world where no evil can abide, only righteousness and peace.

Will such a peaceful world ever exist? A world free from war and strife, a world blind to skin colors, nationality and ethnic identity? Would there ever be a world where we would all care for each other? A world where we would truly love our neighbors as we love ourselves?

There are some ideals we strive for. Some futures we hope for. World peace is one of those ideals that people have always longed for since the beginning of time. Men have died in vain, trying to seek that golden formula for world peace. 

Looking around the world today, I have come to the conclusion that world peace will always be an illusion. The sad reality is that real world peace, no matter how we try, will never be achieved. The world is just not designed for peace. But that doesn't mean we should ever give up trying. Probably the only reason we are still here is because throughout time some people have always tried to work for world peace.

Mahatma Gandhi
I remember when President Obama was elected President of the United States of America. He ran on a platform of ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He wanted to close Guantanamo Bay and try and create the conditions that will discourage the spread of Islamic fundamentalism. He gave so much hope he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Unfortunately the world is as dangerous a place today as when Obama became President. Islamic fundamentalist violence is now swallowing a quarter of the Arab world, with fundamentalist attacks being staged in the West with ever increasing frequency.

So why will there never be world peace?

One obvious answer is that there will never be world peace because there has never been world peace. The history of our world is a history of insane violence, unimaginable cruelty and pure unadulterated barbarism. From the beginning of the human race, peace and conflict have always existed either in succession or parallel to each other, like two hands, one washing the other. 
In Europe they had the Viking invasions, Attila the Hun, the War of the Roses, the Napoleonic wars, the First and Second World Wars, and that is naming but just a few. 
In Africa they had their ethnic wars, the colonial wars and the post independent civil wars. The growing poverty and marginalization of peoples will sow the foundation for the conflicts of the next century.
 In Asia they had Genghis Khan, the great battles if the Chinese dynasties, the great crusades of the Middle East that pitted Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb (Saladijn) against Richard the Lion Hearted.
In the Americas they had the Mayan civilizations and their human sacrifices. The wars between European settlers and Native Americans, the bloody American Civil war. 
The world we have today has been shaped by conquest. The countries we have today are mostly products of war. Even most of the important inventions we have today, the jet planes, the microwave, the telecommunications all either have their origins or were perfected in wartime.
If we haven't had peace in two thousand years, the chance of having it now is truly slim.

Dalai Lama
John Lennon
The second reason why the world will never know peace is unfortunately Religion. Religion teaches us to know right from wrong, to live the good and virtuous life, to learn the practice of peaceful coexistence. Unfortunately, the problem with religion is that there are just too many of them, they all say different things, each believing that only they are right, and that theirs is the only way. 
In reality, if three people say three things that cannot be right at the same time, then  either only one is right or they are all wrong. That is just the fact.
Burning Heretics in England
Even within the same religion will be different subsets, all believing that their own brand of that religion is the right one. If only everybody practiced their own religion and left others alone that would be okay. However, few human phenomena has imposed more hardship on human beings throughout history than religion. From the periods of the crusades in which thousands lost their lives for the fight over the Holy Land, to the Spanish Inquisition, to the burning of heretics in England, to the slaughter of infidels in the Middle East, to the never ending Arab Israeli conflict, men have, acting in the name of religion, imposed hardship and death on hundreds of thousands through the years. Some religions believe that others should be converted to their own ways either through peaceful means or if necessary through the use of force. Religion is paradoxically a force for both good and evil at the same time.

The third reason why the world may never know peace is simply the profitability of war. War is probably one of the most profitable businesses that ever existed. Poor countries like Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen that can hardly find money to feed their suffering masses will always find that extra money to buy weapons, even if doing so means that their people will starve to death. Unfortunately as long as you are willing to buy, there are always those willing to sell. Today the European nations are gearing for war. Shareholders in the weapon and logistics factories will be popping the champagne bottles, as their share values are directly correlated to the loudness of the war drums. As long as there is insane and immediate profits to be made from war and there are people willing to kill each other instead of talking, warmongers and weapons manufacturers are in a sort of symbiotic relationship that will never allow the conditions for world peace. As long as greed continues to be the one of the most acceptable and attractive human vices, there will always be conflict.

A fourth reason why there will never be world peace is simply the unpredictability of human behavior. Just fifteen years ago there was no Boko Haram or ISIS. The IRA was signing a peace deal in UK and Al Qaeda was in its infancy. Between that time to now, the major world players have changed and the major world threats have changed. We now have ISIS which wants to establish a medieval religious caliphate by carrying out beheadings, bombing civilians in markets, and carrying out other acts of random violence. Syria, once one of the most stable countries in Arabia has now become a magnet for radical and disillusioned youths drawn to propaganda videos urging them to fight against the perceived enemies of their religion.
 Russia's Vladimir Putin with his stockpile of nuclear weapons has conquered Chechnya, grabbed parts of Georgia and Ukraine and is now set on a dangerous game of world domination in which the only thing that matters to him are Russia and its allies. In Putin's mind the Russian empire's influence is on the wane and he is the person destined to restore their dignity once again. Like Hitler led the Germans to nearly destroy Europe in the last century, so is Putin leading the Russians to believe that the restoration of their influence is worth thousands of human lives. There will always be a Hitler, A Stalin and a Putin.

Though World Peace will never truly be attained, it is an ideal towards which humanity should always strive. At the end of the day the pursuit of this ideal may one day provide us with the tools needed to prevent future human catastrophe on an unimaginable scale.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Towards a Better Country: The Constitutional Review Process in Sierra Leone

The Future of Sierra Leone
A very important thing is happening in Sierra Leone that will determine the course the country is going to take for the next two decades or so. The Sierra Leone Constitution is being reviewed. So far, many interest groups, from civil society organizations to pro-democracy organizations to even the Rastafarians, have all made presentations to the Constitutional Review Committee. The Rastafarian movement is agitating for the decriminalization of marijuana, the hypnotic plant commonly called in local parlance "djamba." Rasta just wants to get high without harassment.

The importance of a country's Constitution is hard to state in words. It is not only the country's moral compass, but provides the guidelines for social, economic and cultural transformation. Constitutions indirectly control the destinies of people and dictate their way of life. A country's constitution must reflect the character and values of its citizens. A country's Constitution must be designed to have a government that fits its people, just like a well tailored suit fits a smart gentleman or lady.

Diamonds in Sierra Leone
Let us take for example the American constitution. The American Constitution was crafted on the tenets expressed in the country's Declaration of Independence stating that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness." The American Constitution was therefore written to create a society where quality human life, human freedoms and human happiness where the aspirations of the society.

Now that the Ebola crisis is over in Sierra Leone and the pandemonium over the replacement of the Vice President has been decided by the Supreme Court, attention has now turned to the Constitutional review process in the country.  Hence the daily representations to the review committee by interest groups all around the country.

Yet there is something sinister and discouraging about the views that are being expressed by certain groups as representing what they think will be best for the future of the country.

Let there be no illusion about this process, the constitutional review process is as important to Sierra Leone as any of the peace treaties that helped bring a semblance of order once again to the country following years of armed conflict. I will venture to say that this process is even more important, as it will be the major catalyst that will consolidate a peaceful existence for decades to come. However, certain proposals that I am hearing and reading just make me wonder if after all the years of instability, the Sierra Leonean is just too tough headed to learn anything from history.
Where Do We Go?

In my opinion the process going on in the country should have very simple goals. The process should help the country develop a true national character rather than have a society divided along partisan or regional lines. The Constitution should ensure that the country's civil service becomes professional, nonpartisan, meritorious, free of political influence and truly representative of the country's national diversity. The Constitution should cement the sanctity of life and enhance individual freedoms. The Constitution should ensure the accountability of the police to the public and create a symbiotic relationship between law enforcement and the masses. Most importantly the Constitution should gradually help to transition Sierra Leone away from a society where the people have to obey the government, to a society where the government has to obey the people. The Constitution should create a system of ordered liberties.

The Sierra Leone Constitution should ensure basic education for all by making primary education mandatory for all children born within national borders. Until Sierra Leone has a population that is educated and fully equipped with the requisite skills to cope with the technological changes of today and the future, our future will be left to providence rather than being shaped by its citizens. The Constitution should strengthen public institutions and help create an environment that will help private businesses to thrive and prosper. Our population should also include land tenure reforms and stop the land discrimination against our Krio brethren.

So far all these talks about term limit extensions and so on, as much as they are contentious, just represent the foundations on which future instability will be designed into the Constitution. The argument that term limits prevent leaders from carrying out their work does not stand up to hard scrutiny. You can point to the example of  a few leaders who have been in power for a long time and have done good things for their countries. But what you will fail to point out is the even greater number of African leaders who have been in power for so long and have practically dragged their countries down the drain. You will also fail to point out that the most prosperous country on earth has Presidential term limits and this has in no way affected that society's remarkable developmental strides.

My appeal to the Constitutional Review Committee is for them to take this review with the integrity that was the hallmark of the 1991 Constitution, even with all its faults. CRC,  the future of Sierra Leone is in your hands. You can either try to build a society with free citizens, social progress and economic prosperity, or you can continue to strengthen the vices that are slowly choking that country and nearly make it bankrupt. The ball is in your court and history will judge you.