From the Editor’s Keyboard

Random Thoughts: Environment, Karefa, Lebanese

14 September 2010 at 06:07 | 229 views

By Gibril Gbanabome Koroma, Editor and Publisher, Vancouver, Canada.

The roles of Editor and Publisher can be onerous, taking up most of your time and energy. That’s why I find it very difficult these days to write but I have realized that I need to find time to comment on events in both my country of origin (Sierra Leone) and my adopted country (Canada). This, of course will be in addition to my various other engagements. Tough decision, but a noble one.

Many friends and our numerous readers who had been reading my writing while I was in Sierra Leone and after relocation to Canada have also been urging me to put pen to paper or rather hit the keyboards once in a while. So, I have finally relented and hereby promise to communicate with you on this page on a weekly basis, from now on. To begin: I have a couple of issues I would like to look at:

The Environment

Readers will remember that I promised to do some research on this issue and get back to them. Well, I have not found the time to do much research but I would like to say this:There is a lot of mining activity going on in the country these days and that, I think is a good thing, provided the government gets as much revenue as they can from the mining companies. And that the people of Sierra Leone, especially the people in whose areas the mines are located directly benefit from infrastructural goodies like good roads, hospitals/clinics, schools and of course employment opportunities.

But the most important thing is that these companies should carry out their promises of keeping the environment clean; clean water, clean air, dedicated tree planting and the like. I hate logging (I have said it before) and the government should stop it if they have not already done so. I would hate to see Sierra Leone become another Sahel country or desert.

Dr. John Karefa-Smart

Veteran Sierra Leonean politician Dr. John Karefa-Smart, who passed away recently, means many things to me and here are some of them:

1. He was a political champion for the people of Tonkolili district ( the part of Sierra Leone I have my roots) and indeed for the rest of Sierra Leone and Africa (he was a staunch Pan-Africanist).

2. He had special ties to Yonibana, my home town in the north of Sierra Leone.

3. He and I went to the same high school (the Albert Academy in Freetown).

4. He went to university in Canada (McGill University, Montreal). I also studied in Canada (Simon Fraser University, Burnaby).

5. He was my role model in many ways. He was one of Sierra Leone’s greatest patriots. Indeed somebody said recently that Sierra Leone would have been a very different place if he had been elected president of the country in 1996. He was indeed a selfless man, with pure love for his country. Shortly before his retirement from active politics he endorsed and offered total support to the current president Ernest Bai Koroma. I am told he did not even travel to Sierra Leone in the 2007 elections; he merely sent a message to his hundreds of thousands of supporters that he was supporting Ernest, and that was it. I knew then that Berewa (the other major contestant) was going to lose the elections. Pa Karefa, as he was popularly known, was indeed a great man. May his soul rest in perfect peace.

Citizenship

Sierra Leoneans of Lebanese ancestry are up in arms, demanding full citizenship. I think this is a matter for the law makers; I don’t see any reason why there should be a storm surrounding it. A lot of people from various parts of the world, black, white,yellow, you name it, are Sierra Leonean citizens and they proudly cherish our passport. If people from Hong Kong can become Sierra Leonean citizens, I don’t see why the Lebanese, who have been with us donkey years, should not be. To me it’s a non-issue.

See you next week.

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