SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY THE
ONE AND ONLY ERNEST BAI KOROMA
Fellow Sierra Leoneans
I know that there are some people out there who would say that there is no justification for congratulating ourselves because of the many difficulties we have had since our independence in 1961. We believe however, that we have made some remarkable progress as a nation for which we have a right to congratulate ourselves and a justification to celebrate 48 years of independence.
In an age of religious intolerance in the world, we have demonstrated by action, how citizens of different faiths can live together in peace and harmony. In an age of hostility against foreigners in many places, we have shown by our disposition, how to be kind and hospitable to strangers. In an age of ethnic conflicts, we are teaching the world how one ethnic group can live in peace with another even when a country is at war with itself. In a world where political parties are at each other’s throats, we have been able to reconcile differences and curb violence among our political parties. Whereas elections are the source of violent conflict in many African countries, we have been able to hold free, fair and non-violent elections for President, Parliament and Local Government Authorities on several occasions.
In addition, we Sierra Leoneans have demonstrated over and over again that we are truly committed to change and can bring about necessary changes when they are required. In 1967, determined Sierra Leoneans made history by making Sierra Leone the first nation in Africa to change a Government through the ballot box, which feat was repeated in 2007, 40 years later! In 1996, determined Sierra Leoneans resisted military rule and succeeded in replacing the military junta with a civilian democratic regime. On May 8th 2000, many young Sierra Leoneans sacrificed their lives to confront Rebel Leader, Foday Saybana Sankoh when he sought to derail the peace process.
Fellow Sierra Leoneans, there are too many of our compatriots who focus only on the negative attributes of our country and use this as an excuse for doing nothing for this country. They are content to watch from the sidelines waiting for mistakes to happen and then say, I told you so. My answer to these skeptics is that a person who is afraid of making mistakes cannot act, and a person who cannot act cannot overcome mistakes or change situations. As the saying goes” He achieves nothing who does not try”
There are some others who look at the immense challenges facing this nation and say, where do we start. My answer to them is, start where you are now by changing your attitudes; start the process by taking pride in yourself as a Sierra Leonean; start the process by believing that there are so many things that you can do for your country if you make the effort and have the will and courage. There are multitudes of possibilities that are open to you and the time to start is now.
Fellow Countrywomen and Men, my government’s Agenda for Change draws its strength from the ability of Sierra Leoneans to act to effect change. My government’s attitudinal change campaign is a call to all Sierra Leoneans to rediscover and sustain our values. My government’s organization of a National Pride Week draws inspiration from the valour of our forefathers, the beauty and resources of our country, the tenacity of our resolve and the sheer audacity of our hopes.
This country was once the seat of education in all of Africa. We have the ability to make that happen again. This country was once a haven for the weak and oppressed, we have the ability to make it again. This country was on the path to glory and greatness, we have the ability to put it back along that road.
Fellow Sierra Leoneans, we applaud the support given by our international friends towards our development. However, it is what the people do for themselves that translates into what the country does for itself. Therefore, do a little thing every day. As the saying goes “Do not wait for your ship to come in; row out to meet it”. A thousand people getting up everyday and doing something for themselves and their communities are better than a million people who excuse themselves from hard work and continue to rest on their oars.
My call to all Sierra Leoneans is therefore that
Independence should mean standing on our own feet,
organizing our own affairs, making our own decisions
and essentially bearing our responsibilities firmly
on our own shoulders. Let us learn to depend on our
own resources, our own capacities and our own
efforts in promoting our development. Let us show
the world that we are the inheritors of the strength
and independent spirit of Bai Bureh, Kailondo, and
I.T.A. Wallace Johnson.
Fellow Sierra Leoneans, my government is resolute, our people are determined and we have faith in our ability to change our country for the better. We are resolute in fighting injustice particularly against women and we have demonstrated affirmative action by appointing a woman as Chief Justice. We are resolute in fighting corruption, that is why we have the toughest anti-corruption act in Africa. Our system of justice is improving, that is why we have just successfully prosecuted criminals who landed large quantities of cocaine in our country. We are determined to mobilize the energy and creativity of youths, that is why we are setting up the Youth Commission. We are determined to end blackouts; that is why we are completing Bumbuna and creating a national grid. We are determined to increase our productivity; that is why we have performance contracts with government ministers. We are determined to build a new partnership with the private sector, rebuild our infrastructure and improve service delivery to the people of this country, that is why we are calling on every Sierra Leonean to put all hands on deck.
My dear people, I am in politics to harness the goodwill, hope and optimism of our people to build a better Sierra Leone. I am in politics to make a difference and that is my guiding principle. Together with my team, we are motivated to act because we believe that this nation has the resources, the history and the potential to be great.
Let us recall the greatness of our ancestors and the thousands of Sierra Leoneans who have achieved distinction all over the world as scientists, diplomats, international civil servants, educators, administrators, health professionals, engineers and business people and take pride in ourselves. Let us reflect on the sacrifices that the ordinary people are making and rededicate our efforts towards creating the prosperous country that we desire
Once again, let me congratulate all Sierra
Leoneans on our 48th Independence Anniversary.