Indian Temple & Fatal Road Accidents are Unconnected…
By Amin Kef-Ranger
Indisputably, it is a well-established fact that Sierra Leone is blessed in the sense that it is a religiously tolerant State and there has been no known case of any major or serious skirmish that could be attributed to any form of religious intolerance. This is indeed a country where Christians, on certain occasions, attend church services and Muslims do like-wise. Instances abound where Christians marry Muslims and the other way round. People belonging to different religious faiths do interface on a daily basis without any form of religious biases or any eyebrows.
To a certain extent, no one can say with any amount of certainty that Sierra Leone is a Christian or Muslim State as all that is known is that it is a religious tolerant country, where anyone is free to worship how he or she prefers as long as blasphemy is not committed. Besides, Christianity and Islam being the dominant religions in the country that most belong to other religious faiths are allowed to be practiced in the country without any form of prejudice.
Sierra Leone has bilateral ties with many countries around the globe including India, a relationship that has spanned for over five decades. The two countries have supported each other in diverse ways and India has rendered assistance to this country in many ways during good and bad times in the interest of the general good.
There is an Indian Community in this country that includes a Mercantile Group, with most of its members involved in various business activities ranging from manufacturing, importing and exporting, wholesalers, retailer trading as well as those in the construction industry. As a matter of fact, there is a sizable percentage of Indians who were born and bred in this country. They attended schools and colleges in this country considering Sierra Leone as their second country.
Indians are well known for their religious affiliations and for over sixty years now in this country the Indians have been religiously congregating to worship at the Indian Temple, which is situated along Wilkinson Road in the far West End of the capital city of Freetown. At no time in the history of this country has the Indians been inhibited from practicing their religious faiths. People go about their daily activities without paying any attention to how the Indians worship in their Temple, out of respect for the religious faiths of others and simply because it does not really matter to them in any shape or form. They do not believe they have the moral latitude to question the way others practice their faiths.
Against the aforementioned backdrop, it was therefore considered by this medium wrong and incitement for some people to cast aspersions or negatively link certain fatal accidents along the Wilkinson Road and its environs to the practice of the religious faiths by the Indians in the Indian Temple. For such a category of people to tie or link the occurrence of accidents on that major road to the religious activities taking place within the Indian Temple is completely uncalled for, unjustifiable, out of context and a dangerous move to ignite ill-feelings against Indians in this country who only peacefully go about their activities without putting the lives of no one at risk.
Such xenophobic expressions must be totally condemned in all forms and must be nipped in the bud so that it will not thrive on the gullibility of, especially the illiterate portion of the population, which could lead them to unleash certain untoward prejudices against the Indians.
Any form of an extremist idea that has the tendency of sowing seeds of discord must be discouraged at this material time. The Ministry of Social Welfare could play a major role in instilling awareness that this is a religious tolerant country and that there is no iota of occult practices taking place inside the Indian Temple as some would want others to believe hook, line, and sinker.
It must be established at this juncture that accidents or to be precise road crashes, whether fatal or not, do take place from time to time in different places. The causes maybe be attributed to mechanical failures or human errors. Besides, accidents are not peculiar to this country and particularly on Wilkinson Road as some media spinsters may want to create the impression. To say because the Indian Temple is situated on that road that is why fatal accidents are taking place could only be dismissed as not only a naïve way of thinking but an erroneous figment of imagination with no shred of truth in it.
We pray that Sierra Leone will continue to be a religious tolerant country and in way can we sit idly by and allow some unscrupulous people, having hidden agendas, to derail this priceless asset that the country has. The Indians are a peaceful loving people and we must learn to respect them for what they believe in instead of trying to create wedges in the good bilateral relationship between Sierra Leone and India.