The youths’ misconception of the social contract theory and democracy in Sierra Leone


By: Dukullay Bockarie, student, Political Science Department, Fourah Bay College University of Sierra Leone final year

Sierra Leone, a concise country in the West coast of the African continent is known for her peculiar practise of democracy as a system of government. Democracy, to those who know about it, could perceive it as the best system of government consequent upon the fact that, its unique characteristics, features / pillars are most significantly hinged on the perspective of the Social contract theory; an unspoken agreement between individuals to give up certain natural rights in order to enjoy the benefits of society.

This, however, is presumed to have been promulgated by two English thinkers, Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. Both men had lived through the upheavals of the English civil war in the 1600s. Yet, they came to very different conclusions about human nature and the role of government. 

Thomas Hobbes sets out his ideas in a work titled Leviathan. In it, he advanced a scientific argument that human beings were naturally selfish, cruel and greedy. If they’re not strictly controlled, they would fight, rub and oppress one another. For those of us who read and are still reading Government, History, Politics and Law could attest to the fact that Thomas Hobbes insinuated that, life in the state of nature, without laws or other control_ would be: solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.  To escape from the aforesaid miserable conditions, people entered into a social contract.

On another note, John Locke had a more optimistic view of human nature.  To him, human beings were basically reasonable and moral. Further, they had certain natural rights, or rights that belong to all humans from birth. These include: the right to life, liberty and property. In two treaties (agreements ) of government, John Locke argued that people formed a government to protect their natural rights. Locke then set out a radical idea. A government, he said, has an obligation to the people it governs. If a government fails its obligations or violates people’s natural rights, the people have the right to DISMISS / REJECT that government through PEACEFUL means (elections).

In the meantime,  in recent political and governance dispensations of Sierra Leone, essentially in the Bio’s led administration, it’s, however evident to explicate the fact that gullible youthful population in parts of the country, respectively in half of the nation’s capital and the northern areas,  have consistently engaged in  massive riots and some other catastrophic engagements.

These violent conflicts are extreme forms of what have been part of the youths’ daily life. However, this is not a new phenomenon figured only in President Bio’s government_ replication of such had been experienced in the former President Earnest Koroma’s tenure.

The above abrupt acts have been manifested in forms of strike actions, protests and demonstrations.

Asking most of them for their  ‘dreadful strikes’ and many more to state’s institutions, they’d only revert that state’s actors are failing to respond to their mandates/ responsibilities to them. But have they, government / state’s actors really failed in their functions?  Meanwhile, I believe, as a true citizen and a social science student of this country that the government have not failed as perceived_ consequent upon the fact that the government, in gullible areas have made better strides to ensure state’s political stability and economic prudence. 

In terms of consolidating the country’s Democracy,  the government have engaged in constitutional reforms, such that there is respect for the citizens’ fundamental human rights, to ensure gender equity, to improve on peace building and many more. *The reform of the Criminal Libel Law, the Land policy, the Public Elections Bill of 2022 (the Proportional Representation / the District block system ) and many more.

Constant   engagement of the government with its bilateral partners to enhance its diplomatic tendency in the international community /politics /system.

As if the above developments are infinitesimal, there have been massive infrastructural developments in and around the country. The government intervention through the European Union to construct the Ella Koblo-Gulama Bridge, and many other bridges in the northern areas, the construction of the Lumley bridge and many more in Freetown.

In the area of energy, the government of Sierra Leone in recent times has most adequately done well. Today, the entire Masiaka community is enjoying full electricity supply. In the South and Eastern regions, electricity has become one of the major developments of the government, more so for construction of roads. Solar energy supply is on massive delivery in many villages in Sierra Leone. And it’s the euphemism of the government to provide such lucrative social facility to all of the villages in possibly, short period.

 Government’s effort to capacitate the human capital development cannot be overemphasized.

However, there are many issues in terms of development to write about.  But despite all of those, part of Sierra Leonean youthful population remains to be reticent / quiet  about them _ thus decide to create unbearable conditions and inconsistencies for the state, all in the name of  protesting, demonstrating and striking against the ills and foibles of government.

The government may not be communicative, responsive or effective in some cases, but the fact remains that, out of 100%, if the government is ranked above 75%, an accolade should or must be given for that.  But that isn’t the case in Sierra Leone, instead, our fellow youths  bicker and prattle around the government, by obnoxiously protesting, striking, and demonstrating.

Such behavior, however, examines the extent and proximity of the youths ‘ misconceptions of the Social contract theory and Democracy generally and also examines the level of the youths’ political immaturity.

Conclusively, engaging in such blatant engagements with our own government we democratically elect to protect our core natural rights in correspondence to the Social contract theory would only, but result to an unjust war which creat huge economic and political disintegration and above all, disrupt the essential orderliness of the country’s social structures.

Peaceful dialogue, consultation, diplomatic engagement and many more with our leaders are some of the preliminary resolutions, before doing further strike, protest, or demonstration instead of the previous.

I would, however, fail not reminding you all that Sierra Leone is the only country we have. Patriotism for our country and respect for our leaders are valuable tools for us the youths if we’re to see our country in progressivism.