Protecting your own

25 October 2008 at 02:42 | 818 views

By Moses Massa.

Is it wrong or selfish to protect what you own? The question may seem absurd, and if not, the answer is obvious. It is evident in nature that all living organisms; even from domesticated animals and birds to those in the wild, there is the inherent accretion of gene selection to protect both their young and themselves. Many to the extent, due to no fault of theirs, have to prey on their kind or those they differ with to feed their young and themselves to survive. Others do it by gently grazing on the fields, while few protect their own when attacked or threatened by the reality of suffering, starvation, danger and death. To this group we belong. It is only humans who through time have advanced their gene selection to protect not only their own but friends and others they hardly relate with. Thus, from humble and hard beginnings, humans have lived together. We started with the family, to households, to groups and to societies making up the larger demographics of what today we refer to as nation-states or countries.

Why nation- states? We cannot belabour the point here because the answers are as quaint as the concept itself. But what we know is that in each country there is a government responsible for the protection, preservation and prosperity of all its members, which have the judgment, prescience and humane attributes of leadership whose actions will determine the country’s future; to prudently manage and control the nation’s resources and territory. When a government cannot control and protect its resources, the consequences for its people could be anything less than fatal. In contemporary world politics, this issue of protecting has been the cornerstone of the developed nations, and the developing countries, especially Sierra Leone, should do likewise.

The rationale behind this protection analogy is aimed at those whose actions will determine our country’s future. In making comparison, often the examples may not be perfect but are a prototype from which a larger picture could be drawn. It’s over four decades since Africa’s independence, and what is painful to digest is the perennial question of hope; when will things get better in some or if not all of these countries. It is ironic that most of our leaders; if not tacitly, are greatly responsible for the mishap of their countries economies and peoples welfare. The lingering question is whether these governments love their countries, to which they will affirmatively answer. These leaders are not the only ones who can say they love their countries, but the conundrum is how true this love of country gospel is, which they often bamboozle us to believe is patriotism. Well, we have governments we can openly or otherwise support. Interestingly, as is often the case, are some who would do anything to sabotage a government by their action or inaction.

It is difficult to follow such a line of reasoning, which could mean not putting the country first. There is a stark contrast between a country and the government. Mark Twain once said: “patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it”. Patriotism does not necessarily mean nationalism; the somewhat blind, insidious springboard and scapegoat to hatred and violence of those we deem strangers and obstacles to our success, but the guts to say when a government is wrong and know what to peacefully do when it is not acting in our interests.

These leaders should not only demand patriotism from us but also from themselves, meaning they should always be looking at the broader picture of our national interests. We often blame the western nations for some of our problems but likewise it is not always fair. For instance, we have had leaders like the late President Mobutu (Zaire now DRC), General Abacha of Nigeria, who stashed close to 12 billion dollars between them in western banks they deliberately fleeced from their national resources. The sad irony here is that these western nations are protecting their own at the expense of other countries, and thus, allow our greedy and short-sighted leaders to deposit any humongous sums in their banks, which in turn they provide us as foreign aids with huge interests.

In Salone, somehow as we wake up and battle with hopes, dreams and some rude realities to get a fair stake in this race, not all is successful to wash their face with clean water to see the light ahead. For some who have been privileged to travel outside the country, one troublesome criterion among others is the huge financial statement required for a visa permit. These embassies know that many do not have such accounts in the banks than a ploy of restricting the number of immigrants because they are protecting their own against competition for the available scarce resources. For instance, take a look at the activities of Spain. Many Spanish trawlers stealthily; at night and often daylight, trawl our waters, including other West African states to steal our fish. They take it back to Spain, manufacture it into sardines,sell to us and other states, making plenty profits. The effect has been that some of these people; mostly fishermen, are experiencing low catch and huge economic fall out that threatens their livelihood.

Inevitably, when push turns to shove some are risking their lives through canoes to travel to Spain; some even do not make it alive. On arrival they are called illegal immigrants but what the authorities will never agree is that the economic situation in these countries, caused by the illegal and shameful activities of their Spanish trawlers, is what is actually forcing many people to seek or eke out a living in these wealthier nations. It is an axiom that where and when a people are satisfied with their own societies they hardly travel. Cases in point are the US and EU citizens, 70% of who do not travel outside their countries for greener pastures elsewhere.

There is no point embezzling the nation’s financial resources meant to improve the lives of the many hard working people of Sierra Leone. Many sadly, have lived to experience and learn nothing from the mistakes of those before us; we have seen what happened when the people’s welfare are not catered for by those in authority in our nation as well as others. Now that calm has returned there has been a steady increase of interests by foreign firms to not only explore but also exploit the country’s natural resources. The recent euphony of re-opening Marampa mines that led to a somewhat legal cacophony between two British Steel companies over mining rights is a clear example.

It is interesting to note that this scrambling for our resources is nothing new; some who love to peruse the history pages will recall
similar times of yore situations, where these trading companies became the foundation for colonialism and exploitation. The ramification of this legal cacophony is, regardless how substantial the royalties or profits the state is going to get from the Marampa ore, the government should be thinking of how to invest in transportation infrastructure; especially railway, linking Freetown and the other districts over a specific timeframe. It is only a dream if such plans remain in thoughts but become a policy when put on paper and implemented. Such development schemes will not only ease the problem of transporting goods and services but shall increase the country’s economic growth and prosperity that will imbibe and imbue in us and our future generations the character of protecting their own.

Photo: Marampa mines, Sierra Leone.