(Article for re-publication)

January 21, 2020

By: Ibrahim John Bangura

Former Head of Development and Economics Department (IAMTECH)

An Affiliate of Njala University


Many a time we have had to imagine the fortune of individuals close and distant from us and ultimately draw outright line of conclusion about their personal achievement. This is common whether the fortune is financial wealth through trade and investment, workplace upliftment, or when one is excelling in all spheres of life.

The title of this publication may sound funny but has some element of logic. It is this overriding logic that the author is untying to communicate effectively.

But what to blame for such unverified manner of conclusion about peoples’ personal achievements’?

Well, let’s start the ball rolling by looking at the two working vocabularies, which are: ‘‘prize’’ and ‘‘price’’. What is prize?  The word prize is synonymous to award, reward, trophy, accolade, honour, and many more.  According to Webster’s New World Dictionary, ‘‘prize’’ is something offered or given to the winner of a contest; reward; something won in a game of chance, lottery, etc.

Also, the word ‘‘price’’ is synonymous to cost, fee, penalty, consequences, and many more.  Referencing from the same glossary, price is the amount of money, etc. asked or paid for something; cost, value or worth, etc.

In Sierra Leone today, individual achievements are often looked at with suspicion of mockery and doubt. This is more the case if one occupies a political class, or a senior civil servant post.

This thinking is no respecter of persons: Even the intellectual and academic minds of the society aren’t saved!

Sometime little over 10 years we have heard of the ‘‘borbor belle’’ slogan. This is a ridiculous way to refer to a man with pot belle. This is a hate expression against the working few – especially politicians, and other office occupants who are thought of stealing government moneys.

Worst case scenario, this category of persons has been frequently attacked, and some brutally murdered during the war times in Sierra Leone. Even children of these individuals; in some areas, have often times been marginalised and brutalized by their playmates who simply hates these sons and daughters for no reason other than….

I know these appeals your feeling for empathy! Therefore, join force to communicate across the board that people particularly those that are interested in others, to start looking at the ‘‘prize’’ and not at the ‘‘price’’. The reason being; without any amount of favour, some have paid painful prices to attain their status, whether in the quest for skill or education acquisition, or during climbing the ladder of being successful business tycoons, super farmers, etc.

Besides, this is the age of enlightenment; it serves best, if we could attempt in our very little way to alter this mind-set either by talking, teaching, coaching, preaching; of course, through music and performing art that, there are other persona who genuinely break sweat for their status today, although we still have the borbor belle categories.

What is responsible for this way of thinking?

Very many reasons have accounted for this way of thinking. Whilst some say it is the frustration of the wide poverty gap that exist between the haves and haves-not. Others say it is due to the frequency of high profile corruption, which annoys. There are also those who say it is jealousy and envy. Yet others would say it is the very lack of faith in the very Almighty God whose holy name we continue to profess but in feign lips. Some contributors would say it is lack of content: they say people do not want to patiently wait for their destiny to come. And others would say western influence had had a critical role to play in this: youngsters particularly are tempted by the technologies and lifestyles of today, latest iPhones, and latest jeans in boutiques; ambitious to drive the latest FJ Cruiser, and live in luxury. Also, the working slangs of the moment by young folks like, ‘‘fine-money’’, ‘‘Arab money’’, ‘‘the mullah’’, etc., to a very large extent, tend to affect the good values in them.  Above all, laziness and lack of initiative to think out of the box in order to have a physical positive impact, is an overriding reason for this way of thinking. Yes, unemployment and its frustration levels, is another causal.

What is the implication for this way of thinking?

It is therefore alleged that this way of thinking has the inclination to provoke feud that will result in generational grudge in neighbourliness, inter-family circles, communities, and nationally, which will affect the very minds of such persons and in turn disturbs their health conditions. It is also alleged that this mind-set responsible in a way to the rapid growth in area cliques, crime, and gangsterism. According to a retired military officer, this ‘unfortunate’ thinking responsible to a greater degree for the eleven year old war that claimed 50 thousand lives (TRC Report, 2002).

In addition, sons and daughters have been mercilessly beaten up by area gangs and cliques for no proper justification other than for coming from fortunate hard-working or otherwise successful affluent lineages. Others have been bewitched and raised to insignificant status in life. Still others have suffered not only in the hands of arm robbery but they are also killed cold blood in the course (like the late S.O. Williams – ex-Chief of defence staff of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, who was murdered in his house by arm rubbers!). Sad!

The overriding implication for this way of thinking, broadly speaking, is attitude and behaviour: this per se has the predisposition to decelerates national growth and development speed, for it thus leads to the loss of the right human resource base that can influence economic participation and job creation.

Suggestions and/or recommendations: This can be done through parameters.

To begin with, let me start by saying…judge not, that ye be not judged (Matthew 7:1).

For those ‘‘judges’’ it is but fair to start looking at the ‘‘price’’ and not the ‘‘prize’’ when judging people. Or, better still, look at the facts available whether they are sufficient to tactfully draw outright lines of conclusion about their personal achievements or not.

Similarly, for fair judgment, simply bend down low to listen to peoples’ stories: the unavoidable struggles they endured when they couldn’t find a defined and obvious path for possible ways-out. Imagine others have had to go to bed empty belle just to achieve a course; others have had to drop out of studies for umpteenth time for want of fee but yet persevered. And others have experienced outright failure in their business investment ventures for very many times yet they reached the pre-destined time in their business life. So you see…That’s why ‘‘judges’’ would have to take their time to look into the individual story and not their glory when judging!

Looking at the glory is important for very many reasons; over and above, you would be missing the point – and end up graduating into gossip, and becoming a nuisance to some of your audience or by standers who know the necessary facts.

Most importantly, people should begin to accept personal achievements. One of the ways to do this, imagine it were you that possess such a fortune and your neighbours’ or workmate or friends are against your present position. How would you feel? I know you wouldn’t feel any pleasant.  Yes.

Personally, I believe that riches or personal achievement is from God Almighty:  No man can do it….  This is normal. In this life there will ever be lows and highs in society whether in Sierra Leone or elsewhere.

Finally, although there are legal implications like, libel, slander, and defamation, for such a way of thinking especially where it led to chaos. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t like to insinuate any legal implications and/or stipulations in this article. The reason being, I see this as having to do with attitude. And the only therapy is when the mind-set is liberated; this is the favourite bit of this article.


I therefore conclude that the conclusions about persona achievement by others by not looking at the price but looking at the prize is, attitudinal.  This attitude determines the thought. But it’s destructive!  This article is going to serve that campaign to help rebuild mind sets.