Patriotism… 16yrs Failure?

11yrs war and 5yrs of failure in state governance means 16yrs of economic stagnation for Sierra Leone.
The sad state of affairs will not only affect a particular region, tribe, family or any other social group but also the entire country to which every Sierra Leonean belongs.
The pondering on blanket suffering of the masses in an event government fails is an impulse of patriotism and citizenship.
The requirement of patriotism compels one to think about the success of a particular government either they vote for it or not.
A number of patriotic citizens are of the firm conviction that when any government, at any particular period succeeds, it is the country that succeeds. Similarly, when the government fails, it is the state that fails.
The concepts of patriotism and citizenship are inextricably linked and can be used interchangeably within the context of national discourse.
Patriotism connotes love for country or devotion to the welfare of citizens and citizenship refers to strong emotional awareness of belonging to a nation-state backed up with the readiness to put one’s safety at stake when situation calls for that.
The two qualities are rare in typical African states, but the imperatives of nationhood show preference for them.
Currently, a devastating virus COVID-19 is taking foothold in a country known for endemic, abject poverty and underdevelopment after a horrific 11yrs of civil war which started on 23rd March, 1991.
The war period, according to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report of 2002, represents one of the most shameful years in Sierra Leone’s history.
It was a period the country saw indiscriminate mass killings, brutal amputation of limbs, rape, sexual slavery, pillage and a reckless devastation of the country’s social capital.
The country, during the war, also witnessed coups and counter-coups and the enthroning of warlordism at the expense of democratic governance.
The situation presented Sierra Leone to the international community as a state in which no one was in control; suffice it to say a failed state.
In his summary of evidence, one of the judges of the trial chambers of the defunct Special Court for Sierra Leone sumps it up:
“All warring factions in the Sierra Leone Conflict committed the most heinous crimes ever recorded in human history.”
The atrocities forced powerful nations to intervene and make a difference to the conflict.
The peace and tranquillity the country is enjoying today is a product of the foresight of the interventionists.
As the country is on the path to Socio-economic recovery, intermittent waves of epidemic or pandemic attack is wrecking an already economically battered nation to worsen matters.
Ebola Virus Disease struck the country in May, 2014 posing one of the biggest threats to the health sector and the survival of the state.
Today, another virus has also struck at a time the young government was trying to stabilise itself and put in place the development machinery that would have ensured the Bio government stands tall among other countries in the community of nations.
As early as 2019, the Bio government was rallying around potential investors for an investment of US$2.2Bn for the construction of the much Desired Lungi Bridge, the cultivation of Toma Bum and Gbondapi fertile bolilands for agricultural productivity, the diversification of the economy and other beautiful projects.
These fine ambitions that were vigorously pursued by the President appeared to have collapsed in the face of a deadly pandemic that is threatening the foundations of countries in Africa and the world to which Sierra Leone is no exception.
All government effort and resources is now directed towards the campaign against COVID-19 with no definite hope of how long the virus would last.
The livelihood and other social problems hunting the people of Sierra Leone in such a trying time is a tacit raising of the red flag that all is not well in terms of the country’s economy.
Politicians must not bury their heads in the sand and pretend that all is well as it would be extremely difficult for one to escape the quagmire.
The ultimate way to go is to show patriotism and citizenship to defeat the COVID-19 threat and put the country back on track.
The twin concepts of patriotism and citizenship, by their nature, are abstract but they are central to state governance.
The two involve great sacrifices citizens in any state can offer to their own country especially in times of pestilences, wars, natural disasters among others.
Various categories of citizens are expected to show patriotism and citizenship at this trying time so that the country could get out quickly out of her dire situation.
Considering that kindness or magnanimity is deeply ingrained in the African culture, Sierra Leoneans are expected to demonstrate it in the COVID-19 campaign.
The academic class, the businessmen, petty traders, commercial motorists, drivers, politicians and other classes are under compulsion of showing patriotism and citizenship as situation calls for that.
But, most Sierra Leoneans are continuing to question especially the business community who embark on dubious tactics to exploit and profiteer.
What about commercial motorists who constantly disobey curfew restrictions and ply their trade at the detriment of the COVID-19 campaign.
The academic class too deserves a particular mention since much has been given them, much is expected from them.
The educated elites must be seen to flex their muscles in the COVID-19 campaign as their voices would go longer, deeper and higher.
Where are the drivers whose role is key to the campaign against COVID-19?
The Sierra Leonean public has incessantly questioned the drivers’ patriotism in the spiralling pandemic.
Quite recently, bus drivers staged a sit-down strike following the promulgation of the COVID-19 regulations which, according to them, adversely affected their trade.
It is a naked showcase of unpatriotism and lack of citizenship as the drivers portrayed themselves as economic hustlers or vampires that should not be stopped at all cost no matter the prevailing circumstance.
The members of parliament, the councillors, mayors and chairmen of councils must come to the fore in the campaign by telling their constituencies that COVID-19 is real and must obey government measures regardless of party or colour.
The most common argument among the public is that if the aforementioned classes make their voices heard and their effort felt in the campaign, a fundamental turning point in the COVID-19 campaign would be ushered in.
The call for patriotism is line with the great, historic question ever posed by an American President, Abraham Lincoln in a conference that culminated to the adoption of the American constitution.
The question says: ‘Don’t ask what your country has done for you, but ask yourself what have you done for the country?
The maxim that underpins the call for patriotism is that if President Julius Maada Bio fails, it is Sierra Leone that fails and not the President.

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