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Sierra Leone
Thursday, May 26, 2022

61 years of independence: Religious leaders call on citizens to shelve tribal, regional sentiments and think national

By Ibrahim Kabba Turay

We should ask ourselves how much progress we have made when it comes to peace and security in the country. With peace and unity the country would start seeing massive development. It’s time to drop the hatred, malice, division, tribal sentiment and think national. The slow pace of our development is attached to those underlined factors, and if we do not address those issues the problem will continue, says Rev. Gibrilla Kargbo of the National Commission for Democracy (NCD).

Rev.Gibrilla Kargbo is the Director of Communications & Public Relations at the NCD and he told Concord Times in an exclusive interview that, addressing the issue of peace and security in Sierra Leone was a mixed bag when looking at the manner in which Sierra Leone gained independence.

He recalled that when Sierra Leone gained independence from it colonial master in 1961, the country was relatively peaceful until 1967 when the opposition took over from the incumbent, and later the country experienced a military coup in the same year.

He said in 1968, a new civilian government was restored and that it was a little bit positive, and in 1971 the country gained its republican status with Siaka Stevens being the first Executive President of the Republic of Sierra Leone.

Rev.Kargbo said everything that involved human rights was violated at that period because the country was under one party rule and that a few years later there were so many coups in the country.

He said in March 1991, Sierra Leone experienced the first gun short that signalled the start of a civil war in the country that lasted for 11 years until 2002 when President Kabbah declared the war over in Sierra Leone.

He noted that although the country has not seen evidence of war for decades, but has experienced a polarised state with tribal affiliation, ethnicity, and partisan politics which have divided the country.

“It 61 years since independence and we are still grappling with tribal and regional issues. Although for sometimes now we have experienced some kind of peace, quietness, and stability in the country but there are still challenges. Sometimes things happened that are very worrisome to the stability of country,” he said.

He said relatively the country was doing very well despite the 11 years rebel war, adding that although people were no longer in the street with guns, but cited the serious tension between the ruling government and the opposition parties.

“In all honesty, Sierra Leone is not a united country, and if it’s not united, in my opinion, there is a question mark when it comes to genuine peace and stability in the country.”

He said Sierra Leoneans should look closely because after 61 years of Independence they should be asking the question about what to show as a country.

He said moving forward in ensuring the country has total peace and stability, people must ensure that there was room for political tolerance, because politics is the integral part of almost everything and that if the political atmosphere is right every other things will be right.

He said as a religious leader he has been working closely with different types of organizations to ensure Sierra Leone enjoys peace and stability.

He said government needs to ask themselves as to why they co-exist even when they belong to different religious groupings, but when it comes to politics it is a do-or-die affair.

Commissioner of the Independent Media Commission (IMC), Sheikh Ibrahim Barrie, said independence anniversary can be a very historical moment in any under developed country that went through colonialism.

He said besides the eleven-year civil war, Sierra Leone has experienced challenges including frequent military coups, but that generally Sierra Leone has enjoyed relative peace and stability.

He added that the nature of the average Sierra Leonean is very moderate, humble and very polite, thus noting that other nations can attest to the fact that Sierra Leone is a peaceful country.

He cited that some countries that have experienced war like Somalia, South Sudan, Lybia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, are still fighting, and that there were some areas in those countries where someone can’t go despite the war being moderate.

“Moving forward as a nation, we still need to do more after 61 years of independence. I think we should stop the blame game. It’s time we reflect, it’s time we address the issues properly because the issues that we have are internal issues. I don’t think we believe in ourselves, we have some low self-esteem as the Sierra Leonean will always complain and they don’t want to work,” he said.

He said after 61 years, Sierra Leone needs to sit and reflect because it has no excuse as a nation.

“After all, God has given the country a lot of resources, and the nation is still suffering.”

He noted that the political divide was not helping the country and that its high time politicians put their differences aside to ensure the country is in a state of harmony for the betterment of all.

He said the country needs to sit down and change the mind-set of its people, advising both Muslims and Christians to live in peace and harmony.

He said the issue of tribe has been an integral part of the quest for peace and security in the country  

He, however, noted that politics aside, Sierra Leone has relatively enjoyed tribal harmony, and that moving forward politicians should start thinking about the nation first before tribe.

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