Sierra Leone News: Salone: So Blest,So Religious, But…

religionSierra Leone is said to have three of the most expensive natural resources: Diamond and oil, but we are poor and suffering. The Mano River countries in particular have had a very unfair share of worldly woes. Yet we are just too religious. Take Sierra Leone. She has no problem with religion. Our religious tolerance is almost number one in the entire world. Here you can marry your bride in the church and at the same time go to the mosque and do their own ceremony without any query. We are told that Sierra Leone has 60% of its population Moslems and 30 % Christians. The remaining 10 % are either floating or belong to traditional religions.
Some years ago, the World’s radio Station the BBC pronounced West Africa as the most religious region of the world. Should we feel happy about this? Well it’s fine to feel happy about it. However looking at the terrible times we have had and are still having in the sub region, one wonders where our prayers are going!
We might be going through hard times and many people blame it all on Ebola and the drop of the iron ore price on the world market: those people never bother about the unbridled corruption and general neglect and mismanagement of public funds. Take the Audit Service reports for several reports. Year in year out the Audit Service points out which MDAs are falling short of accepted standards.
Come of it, Ebola only told us to be serious about our wellbeing. We cannot say we have a sound health system, when our leaders continue to go for medical attention abroad. As for our attitude, just forget it, even in the midst of the disease many people still behaved recklessly. One other day I was amazed to see a man around 45 years or so eating and just dropping the palm nut chaffs carelessly on the floor. I tried to let him know that that was unacceptable. He was quick to retort if I expected him to put it in his pocket.
Many times I wonder whether we are really religious as we tend to be. What I found interesting was the hike in the price of food stuffs especially those needed by Moslems for Sokoli and Sunakati. What again is ironical or perhaps paradoxical is the fact that most of those selling the food stull are Moslems. It could even be that some of them were fasting. Tell me, do we no more have the word haram? As a kid I used to hear that word so many times. Today it seems to have disappeared from the vocabulary of even the Moslem.
Recently, someone was blaming our religious bodies in Sierra Leone for sitting bye and allowing the impasse over the sacking of the Vice President to reach the stage it has reached. The person was on radio and was lamenting on the many issues our small country is contending with just now. Last Ramadan was definitely not the one our Moslem friends would have loved it to be.
If I may ask have we in any way changed in behavior especially in the way our young ladies dress even at Ramadan? I do not think so and sometimes Imams have to plead with our youth to observe the Holy Month by moderating their sexy dressing which most times could be haram. Are we saying we are living in so open a society that we can dress anyhow? Can we say it is all in our history? We are coming from a triple heritage like Professor Ali Mazrui refers to it. We are strangers in our own land because of our educational and social orientation.
There has been evidence of situations where husband and wife belong to different religions yet they live peacefully together. A classical example was our former president Late Dr Ahmad Tejan Kabbah (RIP) who was a Moslem while the wife was a Christian. In fact there are hardly any family in Sierra Leone in which you do not have both Moslem and Christians. Even when our orientation as a nation is linked to our colonial legacy, there is hardly any hard and fast rule. For example you might think that only Christians have British or saint names, but this is not so. We also have typical Moslems with western names. I can remember in school we had a Moslem guy whose first names were Mohamed Moses. We used to call him double prophet. We have reverends whose first names are typical Arab names like Abdul Rahman. It should not surprise you if you here of a reverend called Abdul or Imam Simon. Having said this we sometimes actually get some isolated impasses caused by fanatics on both sides.
Something that is interesting is that even in Israel you find mosques and churches located back to back in Jerusalem, never mind the much talked about religious squabbles among the various religious sects in the Middle East. In West Africa, even with Boko Haram causing mayhem in Nigeria and some of her neighbors, we are fairly tolerant in the region. A lot of Sierra Leoneans got into either Christianity or Islam by some kind of accident. It is an accident, because it was dictated by the western or the Islamic types of orientation. It became easier for kids attending western education schools to become Christians and those with strict Islamic orientations in Koranic Schools to be Moslems. We have situations in which older members of particular families are Moslems while the younger ones are Christian.
In most cases during the month of Ramadan there is solidarity with the Moslems and this is evident by the fact that the beer bars are empty. Well we can understand because Moslems are in the majority in the country. Some people say that the Moslems are much more affluent than Christians and that is why the bars are empty during the month of Ramadan. Whichever way you look at it there is solidarity, just as at Christmas time. All is well actually and we can only plead with our ladies to improve their dress code especially during the month of Ramadan in respect for the holiness of the month.
The strange question that we should be asking ourselves is why in Sierra Leone we have and are still going through so much suffering? Is our religiosity not meant to impact on us positively? Like someone said in a Hollywood film; Drinking garri does not mean you are poor, but allowing the garri to swell before drinking it is poverty.
By Beny SAM
Wednesday November Awoko  02, 2016

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s