Letter to editor

Unity, Freedom and Justice

28 November 2007 at 02:56 | 1053 views

By Dr.Al Falfa, Las Vegas, USA.

INTRO: What follows can ONLY be accomplished with the honesty, integrity, cooperation, and dedication of all involved. (In other words, it can not be accomplished in the existing culture of corruption.) Our destiny is inescapable, but we all have the power to improve our country and ourselves during our allotted time here on earth.

UNITY: The opportunity for Sierra Leone (S.L.) to regain its’ status as "The Athens of Africa" still exists and is currently knocking at our door. The S.L. Govt. and ALL the people of S.L. must now focus their attentions and efforts on solving the current problems facing S.L. and work together, (regardless of political party membership/affiliation) towards creating a stable, prosperous, and progressive country.

The mistakes of the past must not be forgotten; they must be remembered as valuable lessons learned, and then be applied effectively to help guide future progress. A person’s (or a group’s) pride in their own tribe is a universally accepted idea. Their pride and their customs can (and should) be maintained while also working together as a nationally unified group towards reaching their common goals. Each person and each tribe must accept all other people and all other tribes as their equals, ("All men are created equal") in order to become this nationally unified group. The S.L.Govt. must also be unified in their purpose; which is to serve the best interests of the people. (How can tribalism be kept separate from politics?)

FREEDOM: Democracy is all about freedom and independence; freedom of speech, freedom of choice, civil rights/liberties, and financial freedom/independence. A person’s degree of freedom and independence (in a Democratic environment) is determined by the amount of money they have. The people of S.L. deserve to have the freedom to pursue the opportunities that will improve their lives, their future, and their children’s future. A corrupt Govt. robs the people of their freedoms, their prosperity, and their opportunities. A corrupt Govt. also robs the country of its’ status, prosperity, and independence. It is well past time the S.L. Govt. provides the people of S.L. with meaningful employment, improved living conditions, and quality education; education is a vitally important tool needed to improve an individual’s future.

It’s a harsh reality that many impoverished villages (and many people) have been mining diamonds for several decades with absolutely no progress made towards any improvements whatsoever. With proper management the "Diamond Curse" could become a blessing. The S.L. Govt. (or a trustworthy agency of *) must take TOTAL control of the diamond industry and exclude and/or eliminate ALL corrupt elements, both foreign and domestic. Illegal smuggling must be stopped. Organize the miners, pay them a fair wage for their hard work, and pay them a fair price for their rough. The Govt.’s. plan to cut and polish S.L. diamonds in S.L.** is an excellent idea, ONLY IF the people receive the benefits of this valuable resource. They should benefit from all other resources as well, including industry and commerce; the land, the resources, and the Democracy all belong to the people. Their individual prosperity would in turn increase the prosperity of the country as a whole. (How can a person prosper while making US $1.00 per day?)

JUSTICE: All the people share the responsibility of maintaining their Democracy; voting is just the beginning. The "Watchdogs" must be vigilant always. They must question authority, and demand truth, justice, integrity, and accountability from all elected officials, Govt. appointees, and Govt. employees at all times. No one is above the law; if an elected official is corrupt and/or does not serve the people’s best interests; he/she must be impeached and punished without hesitation, ("Let the punishment fit the crime".) Enforce the law and they will respect the law. Laws are meaningless without proper enforcement; just saying you have a zero-tolerance corruption policy is not going to solve anything, ("Actions speak louder than words".) Justice is a dish best served red-hot. (Can the S.L. Govt. exist and function free of corruption?)

SUMMARY: Unity, Freedom, Justice, (truth and Democracy) are not just words spoken or printed; they are valued ideals that are difficult to achieve and maintain but the benefits are well worth the effort. The status quo does not encourage foreign/domestic business ventures and investment, nor does it achieve progress for the people or for the country. If the culture of corruption is not eliminated the poor will continue to be poor, and the country’s dependence on donor funds will continue until these funds are abrogated due to donor fatigue. "If the mainsprings of development are present, material progress will occur even without foreign aid. If they are absent, material progress will not occur even with this aid", (Peter Bauer). I wish the best for the future of S.L.

*My lack of trust of all Govts. "When you leave the fox to guard the hen-house, he’ll have chicken for dinner every time".

** "S.L. Govt. Praised For Diamond Handling", (an article reporting on this plan). I’ll save my praise until after the people receive the benefits.