BEYOND BORDERS: Bombs and guns again: Talking about God, S/Leoneans, and the devil

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By Sulaiman Momodu

It’s been a while since I last wrote an article on national issues. This article therefore focuses on Sierra Leone in view of the 26 November 2023 attempt to destabilize the state by gunmen for a nation that has experienced civil war, Ebola outbreak, a deadly mudslide, fuel tanker explosion, bloody protests – all leading to deaths. Well, as a tradition, in moments of crises, most of us usually run to God and raise up our very corrupt hands in prayers with promises to change our ways of doing things. Crisis over, back to business as usual.

As a journalist by profession and trained to be a skeptic or to question or investigate things, I have no doubt at all in the existence of God. The evidence is just overwhelming. Some people believe in witchdoctors or believe that evil exists, but they doubt the existence of God.  What wisdom is this?

Amid the stench of corruption and greed, Sierra Leone could be lauded though for being a very tolerant country, religiously speaking. The current president and the main opposition leader for instance are both Christians and they even attend the same parish at Wilberforce in Freetown. Also, the spouse of the current president is a Muslim. Wartime late President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah was a Muslim. His late wife was a Christian. At most gatherings, we invite the presence of God through Muslim and Christian prayers. The question that begs for answers is – Why is a country that claims to love God having endless challenges?

The carnage of last Sunday personally brought back flashbacks of 25 May 1997. It was almost a replay with intelligence failure a contributing factor in both tragedies. Instead of going to houses of worship on a Sunday morning, the capital woke up to sounds of gunfire and heavy explosions filling the air as bellows of smoke kissed the sky. I was staying at Fourah Bay College, so from Mount Aureol, we could see downtown Freetown on fire. Pademba Road Prisons was broken into and prisoners, including Major Johnny Paul Koroma, were freed. Then newly elected President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah was overthrown as he fled to neighbouring Guinea. Johnny Paul Koroma became the junta leader as more chaos ensued when insane Revolutionary United Front rebels high on drugs were invited to apparently create mayhem.  

I had just covered the presidential elections as a very young Northern region correspondent for the Concord Times Newspaper based in Makeni and relocated to Freetown when the 25 May 1997 coup took place, and the country subsequently became a slaughterhouse.

I am currently living beyond the shores of the country. Am I usually surprised by the disturbances back home? Absolutely not!  I grew up in these disturbances, largely rooted in lame leadership and which hugely influenced my decision to enter journalism with the strong belief that no harm would befall me. With the word “fear” not existing in my dictionary, as a youngster, I covered the civil war for both the local and international media and naturally came into conflict with the warring parties and the authorities in Freetown who had a penchant for minimizing the truth and giving ridiculous false hopes of security to the people with deadly consequences. I was a wanted journalist but saved by grace. When the war officially ended, I took a break from mainstream journalism with a promise to return in future.    

After years of serving in various countries, in 2019, I returned home, but I intentionally decided to stay clear of partisan politics. I set up Beyond Borders Media with a vision to contribute to the peace and development of the country through service with integrity from the lens of God’s Word. What did I discover? The root causes of the war remain pervasive, and most people still do things in a fashion that would shock even the devil. Accountability is appalling, integrity is dead, we beg instead of demanding for our rights, services are pathetic, corruption is systemic, most people in positions of trust and service see themselves as lords and behave with unbridled arrogance, the political atmosphere is toxic etc. Perhaps, the only area we have made ludicrous progress over the years is the burning desire to be heard on radio or seen on television to bamboozle or deceive the public.  The questions? What’s the relationship between Sierra Leoneans and God, or with the devil? Do most Sierra Leoneans have a short memory? Have we suddenly forgotten that many people, including UN peacekeepers, lost their lives for the country to enjoy peace? What’s going on in the country, who is responsible, and what’s the solution? James 3:16 says, “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” (To be continued).

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