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Where is our vision?

September 4, 2015 By Sulaiman Momodu (beyondborders.column@gmail.com)

When I was in secondary school, one of my best essay questions was one in which I already knew how the story was going to end. For instance, write an essay with the ending: I never knew that the man she called ‘uncle’ was her boyfriend.

The above is basically an analogy of vision. Vision simply means the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom.

When we were kids we used to think about the type of families we would have as grown-ups. We used to imagine having a very caring spouse and beautiful children. We used to build cities in the sand using our foot. Remember? Personally, I used to admire peaceful and happy homes and Sierra Leoneans who were making a difference at home or at the international level.  My vision was to have a God-fearing family and a successful career. Today, my vision as a child is becoming a reality. Notwithstanding challenges, by making effort to put God first, I have a very peaceful and happy home and I have been working at the international level for some years in the information field after starting my journalism career many years ago in Makeni. I trust that your vision will also become a reality. By the way, wishful thinking and big empty talk – I want to be president, build skyscrapers, have fleet of cars etc – is not a vision, it is idle talk (I will talk more on this in subsequent articles).

My ultimate desire is to inspire and challenge you to take action and achieve your vision. You may have had broken relationships, you may not have had that job or that well-deserved promotion, your business may not be doing well, please don’t give up on your vision. We may have grown up in a country where role models are hard to find or your vision derailed by bad companions or relationships but don’t give up.

Incidentally, if you are a regular reader of this column, I know you may be wondering: why is Sulaiman not writing on political issues? The reason is simple: we must go back to the fundamentals if we are to see a radical change and sustainable development in our country.

In my last few articles, I had focused on character development. In my view, if we truly want to see change in our country we must change our mind-sets and improve on our characters. Most times, most of us spend so much energy trying to look good. We buy very expensive clothes, shoes and spend money on things that will make us look good or feel good. After buying all these very expensive things, we then wear them on our very ugly characters. Shame on us! Please listen very carefully: it is not your clothes or shoes plus watch and jewellery that matter but the man or woman wearing them.

The Bible says that where there is no vision the people perish (Proverbs 29:18). Imagine what our country would be like if parents will make conscious efforts to be good examples to their children. Imagine what lessons our future generation will learn if they grow up seeing people in various walks of life making a difference. Imagine what Sierra Leone will become if those vying for public offices see their efforts as a way of serving their people and not arrogant masters.

You see, what media practitioners most times do is to talk about the effects of things and not the cause. Screaming headlines of missing millions in offices or bankers stealing their customers’ money or doctors stealing donor funds tell us about the motivation of those people; I, me, and myself. Tell me, what is the difference between a man who steals millions and the poor hungry man who steals a loaf of bread?

If you are a younger reader, let me ask you: what would you like to be in future? And if you are an older reader, are you living the life you wanted to live when you were much younger? Do you even have a vision at all? I would like to encourage you to do a self-assessment of your life today. Check your habits. If you are in business and it is not growing, evaluate it and adopt new strategies.

It is very interesting that sometimes – as a country – we call up big conferences to discuss the vision of a country. In theory, it is a great idea. Now, after eating some chicken and salad and collecting per diem, we leave the conference venue beaming with smiles and promptly return to our old corrupt ways of doing things. Be honest with yourself: how are we going to achieve our vision?

Some years ago some politicians would be pleased that Sierra Leone was at the bottom of the UN Human Development Index. Their interpretation was that such an embarrassing position translates to more donor support. Can you imagine?

Let me briefly talk about Ebola. Ebola did not originate from Sierra Leone my dear. Check it out – there are countries in Africa where there had been Ebola outbreaks. The mere fact that it took such a trend in our country after the first case was identified way at the border speaks volumes of our health system. During the outbreak, I travelled in the region – Guinea, Liberia and by road from Monrovia to Sierra Leone. I observed things especially in Sierra Leone. I subsequently wrote an article that the outbreak was going to get worse. It was obvious. It was easily predictable. What we should be asking ourselves along the line was:  how did Senegal promptly contain the virus? Also, there was so much fear that if the virus entered Nigeria for instance, millions were going to die. Nigeria contained it.  In our case, even though we knew that there was an outbreak in Guinea, our preparedness level was zero. And when the virus finally broke out, we used so much politics denying it. When resources were mobilized, mismanagement followed. And now that the outbreak is ending, we need billions. Please don’t get me wrong. The world is interrelated and interconnected but our way of doing things is sad. Where is our vision? The point is: what do you think greedy people who “benefitted” from a tragedy like Ebola would like to see? The bad news of the disease will obviously be their good news.

To conclude, everything begins in the heart and mind. Every great achievement began in the mind. Don’t let negative thoughts discourage you, be positive. Believe your vision. Picture it. Take action. Plan. As individuals, if we truly want our vision to become a reality and experience peace, happiness and success in all things, we must invest on improving our skills, attitudes, push self-doubt aside, invest in having God-fearing families, and see any call to national duty as an honour not an opportunity to loot. As a country, we must invest in human resources, be accountable, we must go beyond workshops and conferences; we must go beyond tribal and regional borders and we must be sincerely committed to change.

For any comments, please email beyondborders.column@gmail.com. See you again next week.