By Paul A. Conteh
First, Europeans invaded our land. They captured us as slaves, exploited our resources, eroded our culture, and instituted a colonial system of governance. After independence from the United Kingdom, we thought our chance to build a better society was here. Sadly, that dream was shattered by a barbaric dictatorship. Next, we suffered civil war for 10 years. Later, an Ebola outbreak ravaged our country. This killer disease consumed lives, lines and legacies. To our greatest surprise, the twin disaster was on its way. The mudslide and flooding of August 2017 perished households around the water catchment areas of Mount Sugar Loaf. It took us back to square one. With this background, you wonder if life is worth living (for the ordinary Sierra Leonean), as Tupac blasted himself in the Changes.
The Sierra Leone story has segments of sorry wrapped around it. Ice Cube clearly stated in the rap biopic, Straight Outta Compton – “our arts is a reflection of our reality”. The history of Sierra Leone is scrambled around these ugly realities. This is something we as a people cannot erase, but just live with it. Amid these harsh realities, we have constantly shown response, reaction, and resilience.
Fast forward – Prezo Bio declared 2020 as “the year of delivery” from his Government. This statement by Prezo Bio is parallel to J.Cole’s poetic genius in Middle Child. He has chanted this policy statement in public gatherings and cabinet meetings. We as citizens watch in anticipation for the goodies of greatness to come down falling on us. Well, here we go! The global Corona Virus pandemic is threatening to stall development drives. The signs of hostility from this satanic agent are visible in Mama Salone. One is left to ponder on this question from Black Eyed Peas “what is wrong with the world, mama?”
The rulers of Mama Salone have asked us to practice individualism; they have deployed 2 weeks of quarantine for people from nations that have over 50 numbers of Covid-19 infection; they have stopped the tic-tac of scientific birds from our air space; they have placed a temporal pause on the houses where the teachings from the Christ and Holy Prophet are studied and they have given closure date to the campuses of the Athens of West Africa. The spots that provide food, family-time, fashion shows, and fantasy clusters have been slammed with indefinite measures. The good news – people are complying with these trends. Even with this positive vibe – “dis tin don really monah wi oh”, as Kao Denero rapped fifteen years ago.
Walk down the streets of Freetown, you feel the impact of this horrible outbreak. The prices of commodities are heading heaven high; the free flow of information is distorted by corona cry; the bonding religion offers is ceased, and people are losing jobs like breeze. The banks and bureaus have seen a drop in money transfer into Sierra Leone. The western world is on lockdown! The people who send money into Sierra Leone cannot leave their houses, cannot go to work, cannot make additional income and are saving for any eventual economic catastrophe…And the struggles of the brothers and the folks, as rapper Common, expressed in The People.
Kendrick Lamar shared his story in “I” soundtrack. He went through his struggles, trials, and tribulations. But he knew God is going to sail him.
In the case of Sierra Leone, we are going to resist this plague. The other countries will defeat this viral venom. And the planet is going to return to the pathway of prosperity. Twista gave us great words of encouragement in Hopeful. The fortunes of this country would change from Jazzy to Jay-Z. The former was this young kid from Brooklyn selling dope. The latter is a billion-dollar worth, Grammy award-winning rapper.
At the end of the day, we are going to join The Game, Tyga, Wiz Khalifa, Lil Wayne & Chris Brown for a celebration. Right now, we need to heed to the advice of Nas – stay Sabali (Patience).