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BEYOND BORDERS

Returning to Sierra Leone that we take for granted: my experience 

August 27, 2019

By Sulaiman Momodu

(beyondborders.column@gmail.com)

returning

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Let me start this piece by asking some very simple questions. What in your life are you taking for granted? Food? Water? The toilet? Your spouse? Your children? The air you breathe? Your health? Or are you taking life itself for granted thinking you will never lose it?

Most times we humans allow familiarity or complacency to lure us into carelessly taking something or people for granted. In particular, we sometimes take even God for granted. We get entangled in the world’s cares and we want all the best things in life, but we do not want to change our ways of doing things. We most times want the easy life and do not want to move out of our comfort zones.

For many years, I have been drifting away from home with sometimes a deep feeling of nostalgia. Life’s journey has taken me to many places for which I give God the glory. But go west, east, north and south, one question I am always sure to answer is – where are you from? What is your nationality? As important as this question is – tell me, should I take my country for granted?

The truth about life is that we are all created in the image of God which means we are all equal in the sight of God. But have you ever wondered why some countries are well developed while others are always struggling and are beset by woes? The truth? Most countries in Africa are very deeply corrupt. If you only understand how very corrupt most African leaders who should be setting very good examples are, you will weep for Africa.

Planning to return home started some years ago, but it only started materializing over the past few weeks. My journey started from Ethiopia, where I am currently on assignment. It was a very hectic journey that left me travelling to the Liberian capital, Monrovia, three times to the Ivorian capital Abidjan and then to home sweet home – Sierra Leone with connecting flights in Togo, as well as spending some time at Ghana’s Kotoka International Airport.

From Addis Ababa, I flew to Abidjan, where the kids have been going to school and now speak better French than even daddy and mummy. Speaking French was a family project which required making the sacrifice. Today, French is one of the languages we speak at home.

“Welcome to Sierra Leone,” I told the kids who never stop asking questions as we landed at Lungi International Airport with thanksgiving for a safe return.

God answers prayers. As a youngster, I always wanted to serve humanity at the international level. This was my prayer as I covered the war as the country prayed for the restoration of peace in the war-ravaged country. The cause of the war? In one word, CORRUPTION. The war ended in 2002. A few months later, the United Nations beckoned to me. I gladly heeded the call and took a break from mainstream media with a promise to return one day and continue our beautiful job of asking questions and telling people the very uncomfortable truth. If you are a thief, I will call you a thief. I will never call a rogue a saint. Simple. I will never see black and call it white.

My UN career first took me to the provinces and then to Liberia as it was also coming out of the throes of a ghastly civil war. From Liberia, my career has taken me to places, including very dangerous ones. As someone who covered the civil war with the Lord always ordering my steps, fear is naturally not in my dictionary. Without overtly taking unnecessary risks, my belief is that truth will always triumph over lies and light and darkness cannot dwell together.

Deciding to return home seems a very courageous decision to many people. As one fellow said to me: “You can decide to leave Sierra Leone and go to other countries, it is perfectly ok. But to return to ‘gron dry’ is very scary”. A few years ago, a friend said to me that he has decided to stay out of Sierra Leone because things don’t work at home; there are no efficient services.

Understandably, the kids are always quick to organize a press conference if you like to ask daddy all the tough questions. “Daddy, why is this like this or that like that in Sierra Leone? Why do people always want to be paid for even unsolicited services? ” they will go on and on. My reply is always simple “Welcome to Sierra Leone”!

Returning home has been quite exciting. My younger brother Promise was at the airport to welcome us, and my spouse, Chris, was all smiles hugging family members

Last December, when I was asked whether I would like to leave Geneva in Europe for an assignment in Africa, I did not need to think about the answer. It was a very big YES. To be continued.

About the author: Sulaiman Momodu is a former editor of Concord Times newspaper. He has also worked for United Nations peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.