This I Believe

Emmanuel - Naperville, Illinois
Entered on June 8, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

This is the future that I hope every Sierra Leonean will take a moment to imagine. This I believe.

In my quiet moments a few days ago, I happened upon a volume that contained some of the public papers of President William Jefferson Clinton. I became deeply moved by his conception of where the greatness of a nation looms. “National power”, he says, “may spring from economic and military might but the greatness of a nation emanates from the life of the mind and the stirring of the soul”. I proceeded to contemplate and imagine a future for Sierra Leone where every generation embarks upon their obligation to irradiate their minds and elucidate their commitment to unravel the mortifying condition of our people. I imagine a future where the mentally ill, is not relegated to being an indigent; ravaging through the filth and stench of the ruble pile at Bombay street market. I revile a nation that deprecate and devalues its children, where the last to be looked out for; are the most vulnerable of the lot. My heart cries out for the children and the youth who are stranded in a vast ocean of dehumanizing identity. In their existence they find no past, the present is blemished with anxiety and hostility, and the future is cloudier than a sad African August day. I weep for the mothers who must resign to the forlorn state destitution. There is a young child dying of malnutrition, she could not be breast-fed because her mother’s milk has run dry. The image of the crippled with their young, lined up at cotton-tree, the center of Freetown, braving the scorching sun for a few alms to survive. I lament over the sea of people on their feet, baskets of loads on their heads, streaming from Wellington to Duazack farm, to and fro the business of survival. These questions hunt me feverish unease! Are the conditions of the indigents my concern? Ought I proceed about my business as though that was the way it was meant to be? In these conditions, the handicap, the child, the mother and the youth and the father as well, denied of their dignity and his humanity. Can we afford to imagine a nation where men are born and die as though they have no face, no name, no identity and no place? You cannot be serious when you say you have no time to identify with a cause that knows only one vision, with the few whose only ambition is selfless service. I look back at my past and I see powerful memories, but my dreams of the future that I imagine for Sierra Leone are much stronger. You cannot escape this journey, it is our shared destiny. You must not defile this vision, it is our collective duty. In those faithful months, two hundred years ago, when the framers of the American constitution were busy at work, it is reported that Benjamin Franklin was observed often gazing at a painting of the sun that loomed low in the horizon. Upon the signing of the constitution, Franklin confessed, “I have often wondered whether that sun was rising or setting. Today I have the happiness to know it is a rising sun.” I believe, even today, and it is my solemn hope that the sun will always rise on our great country named after a lion and a mountain, after greatness and majesty. This is the future that I hope every sierra Leonean will take a moment to imagine. But beyond our imagination, this is the future we can all collectively converge to erect. From the mosaic of our slightly different regional traditions, we find the common bond of humanity. I am only a child whose heart cries out for a wailing nation. Would you weep with me?