I Pledge Allegiance

8 May 2006 at 18:31 | 1264 views

We bring you the entire speech the PMDC Secretary General of the Washington DC chapter, Mr. Sidie Yahya Tunis, prepared for delivery at the Youth for Sierra Leone Improvement (YSLI) political debate amongst SLPP, APC, PMDC and UNPP parties. Tunis could only deliver an excerpt because of time constraints. We will bring you the full report of the debate later.

By Sidie Yaya Tunis

I pledge my love and loyalty to my country Sierra Leone, I vow to serve her faithfully at all time, I promise to defend her honor and good name, always work for her unity, peace, freedom and prosperity and to put her interest above all else, so help me God.

What you have just heard is the pledge of allegiance to our “so-called” beloved country, Sierra Leone. But I will challenge you tonight; who amongst us knows how to recite the national allegiance or went through school reciting the national allegiance? But that is what children in great nations do-recite a pledge to their nations, without fail, every morning, in their schools, and their lawmakers debate whether to accept prayers or not to accept prayers in public schools. We grew up praying, and our youngsters have stepped into our shoes-pray every morning in our schools and never make a pledge of allegiance to our country.

But this is not without the oxymoron that almost every Diasporan Sierra Leonean business has one of the following words in its name: Sierra, Mountain, Leone or Lion. We profess to love our country, but I can tell you here, tonight, that it is a misguided love, in fact, it is not love; in stead, we have a compulsive infatuation with Sierra Leone. That was how we caused our women folk and children to run for their lives, gang raped, made into sex slaves or killed for eleven bloody years, actions that were akin to wiping out a whole generation of future leaders. What we have caused ourselves is a looming generation gap in leadership.
The story of our decade-long sustained violence against each other is yet to be told if we do not act now to turn around the mindset of a whole generation of youth. Almost every young man or woman who was in Sierra Leone during the war has seen some kind of violence. Some are dead men and women walking upon seeing there mothers being raped in front of them before they were shot to death in close range. Many of our young men and women are shell-shocked; they are psychologically disturbed by these hideous crimes against humanity.

A generation is a period of thirty years and the next generation of leaders in Sierra Leone will be uncured shell-shocked and psychologically disturbed men and women who will be ruling our nation. Who will we blame if we hit the news spotlight for violence in thirty years from now? When Chris Robertson of Save the Children Fund wrote: “How these children will act as adults depends much on the support they get from society,” that is exactly what Chris meant. Sierra Leone needs a leadership of men and women with unfaltering allegiance to her to prevent such a reoccurrence, not the APC or the SLPP-they are heavily laden with men and women with the extreme form of obsession allure for Sierra Leone and money. They have no plans for the women and children, the most marginalized sectors of our society, but their individual pockets. Their lawmakers only know to agitate over their share of government contracts, not the moving of life enhancing benchmark motions on behalf of the people.

But it was not like that in the past before things fell apart: Chinua Achebe’s Okonkwo stood against the European, but his people abandoned him for wrongdoing when he killed the colonialist messenger; he knew he could fight the stranger, but not his people. He walked off and hung himself akin to Greco-Roman tragic heroes of the past. According to Achebe, “Okonkwo’s fame rested on solid personal achievement,” he could have mustered much support to rebel against his society, but he heeded and punished himself in silence. He had no knowledge of Socrates. In Greco-Roman civilization, Socrates dialogue with Crito in The Prison of Socrates, he brought us the following virtuous tenet of allegiance: “...And when we are punished by her, whether with imprisonment or stripes, the punishment is to be endured in silence; and if she leads us to wounds or death in battle, thither we follow as is right; neither may anyone yield or retreat or leave his rank, but whether in battle or in a court of law, or in any other place, he must do what his city and his country order him; or he must change their view of what is just:...” peacefully.

Many of us can recite many bible verses; some of us can even recite the whole Koran. In as much as religion plays a vital role in our society, let us not forget to give Caesar what is Caesar’s-as government is between persons and public. What the APC has don in the past and the SLPP is doing now is the reverse of such Socratic tenet; they go public with God and private with government. I mean private with government, because the APC and SLPP leaders have used government to meet their selfish needs only.
If we have to care for our women and children, we have to change that attitude with the PMDC’s "Positive Change" ideal. It is only through such transparent ideal that we can make a difference in Sierra Leone in the lives of women and children. For the exigency to fill that gap between government and the ordinary man, for the exigency for women and youth empowerment, for the exigency to reverse the looming leadership gap, the PMDC was borne.
The SLPP-led government is doing nothing that is in conformity with the national pledge of allegiance neither did the APC in its twenty-four years of rule.

I would like to thank the good folks at the Youths for Sierra Leone Improvement (YSLI) for putting together yet another successful gathering. As a youth myself, let me hasten to say that I am very proud to be part of this historic event and once again, I thank you for the opportunity. You are far ahead of the former APC regime whose actions gave way to the pool of idle youths on killing fields instead of soccer fields. You are far ahead of the SLPP government who has nary a vision for nation building nonetheless youth development. I pray that today’s event will open the eyes and minds of our fellow youths in Sierra Leone and elsewhere.

The APC and SLPP, that are responsible for everything that is wrong with our country are here today to steal your votes so that they will continue to cause you pain by stealing your resources and running off with your money. Simply, when you ask for votes by making promises to run a good government and neglect your duty for selfish gains upon getting the votes is stealing. All I can warn you; the vote bandits are here again. That is bound to change if you vote for the People’s Movement for Democratic Change (P.M.D.C) in 2007. The exigency to change the miserable status of the youth population of Sierra Leone cannot be overemphasized.

Recently, former Ambassador John Leigh referred to PMDC youth support base as “Low grade noisemakers - san san boys, honda drivers, ex-combatants, carwash boys, etc.” Before him, this sector of our country’s population was commonly known as “rah ray boys” by the APC, which became the factory that manufactured the “pool of idle youth” with AK-47s and machetes on a rampage to shoot and hack off limbs of our people. They went on to call our women folk, who were left with no choice, but prostitution for their livelihood “kolonkos”. The APC and SLPP have tossed us around for so long. They invariably ask for our votes, but what do they do when we give them? -toss us in the corner. They blame us for their own failures in government. These acts have caused so much trauma and psychological problems for the youth and women folk to the extent that many have developed mental instability and extreme forms of low self-esteem. They have lost all hopes: thus we can find people, especially on the countryside, in front of their sheds, blank; gaping and gazing into the heavens, akin to the Almighty heavenly stories of paradise-but God will send them everything they need.

An average Sierra Leonean can afford only one meal a day, which must be consumed at a certain time of the day to barely survive. We have been, constantly, at the very bottom of the UN human development index. But to all my brothers and sisters back home I say; don’t give up. Faith is for those optimists who pull themselves together in times of crisis, hardship and degradation. Those endowed upon you I ask that you keep the faith in the Almighty God and yourselves and believe that “hope is on the way.” Come 2007, let us match to the polls as proud “san san boys and Kolonkos,” and vote for the PMDC symbol of “Positive Change.” But, through it all, let us always remember, “THE PLEDGE”.

Photo: Sidie Yaya Tunis