Opinion

Charles is a man of principles

22 August 2007 at 01:08 | 678 views

By Sahr B. Marrah.

Mr. Charles Margai’s decision to support the All People’s Congress (APC) party in the inevitable September 6, 2007 presidential run-off election has been met by both criticism and commendation. Regardless of what one’s position is, I believe he is a man of principles, who shares the current sentiment of the Sierra Leone’s electorate. The sentiment is Sierra Leoneans need a change. The people of Sierra Leone have been taken for granted for far too long. The large voter turn out during the August 11, 2007 elections may be characterized as either support for the APC, PMDC or SLPP, but in fact, it is more of a manifestation by the people that they have been ignored by their elected officials for too long.

The fundamental issues affecting the average Sierra Leonean should supercede the party politics in the country today. Which ever party eventually wins the presidency has to recognize the need to provide basic necessities for the masses including food, electricity, clean drinking water, health care, education, disposal of garbage and even raw sewage. While other nations including other African countries are now dealing with issues related to clean air and global warming, Sierra Leone still remains on the base of the ’Human Needs’ ladder according to Abraham Maslow.

According to Abraham Maslow, the human needs are classified in a hierarchy ranging from basic physiologic needs such as the need for air, food, shelter etc to safety, love, self-esteem to self actualization. He believed that in order for the higher human needs to be met, the fundamental needs must be met first. However, the Sierra Leonean cannot in actual sense get even ’air’ to breathe. The air in Freetown is laden with Carbon Monoxide, due to the numerous generators running constantly in the city, because of the government’s inability to provide electricity. The long term consequences of such pollution are obviously respiratory disorders and other illnesses. The streets are full of garbage, and the gutters are infested with mosquitos contributing to the repeated exposure to conditions like malaria and typhoid fever.

Many Sierra Leoneans particularly in Freetown continue to roam the streets of the city engaged in purposeless activities with no hope in sight. Graduates are engaged in petty trade such as selling pins and needles stuck to a Styrofoam board. The income generated from such trade cannot even support the trader himself. It may sound exaggerated, but these are some of the harsh realities our people have to endure on a daily basis.

We tend to be highly philosophical in our debates about issues in Sierra Leone, but the issues are truly fundamental. We need the government to be more responsible to its people. Once the politicians start realizing that the citizens understand their civil rights and can remove incompetent leaders by the ballot, they will start treating the electorate very seriously. I hope and pray that the votes of the electorate will prevail in the run-off presidential election scheduled for September 6, 2007. Charles Margai(photo) is truly a man of principles, whose position is shared by many other Sierra Leoneans as manifested in the recent poll results.

*Sahr B. Marrah is Program Director & Lecturer,
Virginia School of Nursing & Medical Institute, USA.

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