AFRICA / SIERRA LEONE - Self-determination and continuous effort for a better life, in 50 years of independence

Freetown (Agenzia Fides) - On 27 April, Sierra Leone, a small West African state, celebrates an important date: its 50 years of independence among African nations. The independence of Sierra Leone was reached after a colonial path, rather short and substantially positive, under the fair administration of Great Britain. This helped in the actual building of the nation, uniting it together through the "politics of treaties" stipulated with the different Paramount Chiefs present on the geographical territory. Each leader was virtually independent and in various way administered his own territory with the native institutions, centuries old. The policy of the treaties, which enabled the gathering of the various communities - scattered over a territory vastly populated by different ethnic groups - had created the famous "territories", which alongside the British colony itself, then became the "British Protectorate" .
It was thanks to the network of contacts among the different ethnic groups with the British authorities that the network of relationships was established which form the living fabric of the modern state. It all began with some leaders in the north of the country, who asked the colonial Power to mediate the conflicts and to resolve difficult disputes. Peace treaties and agreements with the British thus became the platform of the future nation. On August 24, 1895 these territories were joined to the territory of the Colony to become in 1961, the modern State of Sierra Leone.
To celebrate this Independence means first of all to recognize that a path , that of the unification of many parts into a single unit was made. Secondly, to recognize a nation able to decide their own fate. Finally, to have common values to be believed in.
It does not mean however that they have reached their goal or perfection, but they need to make - every day - coherent choices that lead them to a better life. If, on the street, they can seek help from others, the basic choices will only be theirs (Sierra Leoneans). They cannot expect to change their lives (to improve it) if not through self-determination and an ongoing commitment for themselves.
From what I hear - as well as the official organization that has provided a budget of several million for the various celebrations – there is a spreading sense of dissatisfaction with the difficult economic situation which is across the country. This painful situation still hurts too much. The cost of food is too high and wages are poor, education is at a low level and the country's destiny is uncertain and insecure. It is true that many things have improved in recent years, especially after the terrible civil war, but a few - through the ongoing debate in the national media - say that this party cannot be celebrated, because in 1961, so some interventions state, it was perhaps better and people today are still not able to do things for themselves. Some critics also go to the rulers, who often solve family problems better than national problems.
I believe that the country is not helped with too much negative criticism, even if the common feeling is important at a time like this. The possibilities of the country and the human and natural resources are certainly vast. Sierra Leone must find a way to invest in these securities and, with optimism and good will, fight for a better Nation. Today it needs heroes and positive role models that lead people to safe shores, with the blessing of the Lord. The Christian Churches have given a good boost of preparation and valuable staff, in many sectors, for this essential growth. We hope that the occasion of the celebrations of the 50th year is the beginning of this real process. Happy Birthday Sierra Leone! (P. Gerardo Caglioni sx) (Agenzia Fides 20/04/2011)

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