Opinion

Salone Citizenship: Compare and Contrast

21 November 2010 at 00:28 | 1188 views

By Sewanu Kponou Atlanta, Georgia.

Almost two years to the day, a man whose father studied in the United States for a few years, and left, was voted in as the President. His name, Barack Obama. The fact that he was born in the US gave him an immediate claim to citizenship, and an entitlement to run for the highest office of the land. In addition, there are quite a handful of Judges, City Councilors, and other elected officials, of African descent, not born in the US, that are serving elected terms of office all over the United States. In the State of Texas, City of Rowlett, the Deputy Mayor Pro Tem is a Sierra Leone born gentleman by the name of Patrick Jackson. Fast forward to present day. In Slovenia, on or about Oct. 24, 2010 a Ghanaian of Negro-African descent (read very dark skin and wide nose), was elected Mayor in one of their cities. There are numerous such examples in Europe.

Not to be outdone Calgary, Canada just swore in a Muslim Mayor, first of it’s kind in a major Canadian city. The author has a question to be asked in this situation: What are the benefits, or adverse effect, of having such people of backgrounds that are most definitely in the minority, become elected officials of their communities? From scanning the news I have yet to see the situation in which these new citizens have negatively impacted their communities, after their ascent to power. When these communities created their laws eons ago, a lot had histories of co-mingling with other groups, thru wars or migration. The result is that evidence abounds that good rulers can come from any given group. In many situations the lives of the "indigenous" groups were made better by the arrival of the new groups. New thought processes were introduced into the societies, the best parts assimilated, and everyone benefited. The indigenous learned from the immigrants and vice versa, and with time more efficient methods were developed.

We will now focus our attention on Sierra Leone, since the article is directed to a mainly Sierra Leonean audience. Sometime in 1991, the Sierra Leone govt. put into effect a law which, summarily, states that anyone not of Negro-African descent cannot hold office in the country. Regardless of what the aim of the law was, when it was enacted, this law/statute etc. needs to be reviewed, and the reference to race (Negro-African) deleted in it’s entirety. The reason being that when the wheels of discrimination/exclusivity start turning they are difficult to stop. The world is evolving and such a statement in the constitution gives a poor image of the country. It is bad enough to practice discrimination, but to have it enshrined in a country’s constitution is alarming. In 1991 when the then constitution carried this new enactment, there was hardly any internet, globally, and the only views shared were those of the powerful news agencies, like Reuters and Associated Press (AP). In today’s world we have a global list of news agencies that is exponentially bigger. Bottom line is that word spreads in ways many may not imagine.

Change - Fifty years ago it was easy to see adult males of negro descent who were members of some of Sierra Leones "powerful secret societies", prance around bare chested, displaying all kind of designed "markings" on their bodies. In the year 2010 one is hard pressed to find members of these "societies", much more young people with those scars. The rebel wars gave a different outlook on the value of these "societies", as guardians of the populace, when "society" members were the first to flee the rebels, leaving wives and children behind to be raped and slaughtered. The bottom line is that in this one instance we have seen change.

Another instance of change is the introduction of cell phones. This has been very profound, in that you no longer wait for someone going to your village to carry news of a birth, death and all in between. It is difficult to quantify a change such as this.

We presently have a campaign for attitudinal change going on, and I do believe that the government can make a change in our present law, regarding elected officials, a part of the campaign for change.

Young generation - If a petition is anything to go by we may be seeing how our youth are going to forge their version of news propagation, in ways they feel comfortable with, and not easily controlled by government propaganda organs. On the Salonenetwork.com website there is a petition underway in which the authors are asking for signatures supporting the change. You may want to sign the petition. Maybe we are seeing how the younger folks are going to channel their voices within their communities. It will be nice to listen to them.

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