Bush near Sembehun, Sierra Leone
On my most recent trip to Sierra Leone, my driver told me a story that went something like this:
In the beginning of time, God created Sierra Leone and gave it all the wonders of the world. He gave Sierra Leone the beautifully lush forests, the rolling mountains, an abundance of good fish, and all the natural resources that man could want. When God created the rest of the world, He gave each other country only a few of the resources that Sierra Leone had, but no other country got all of the wonders of Sierra Leone. To make things fairer, He gave Sierra Leone the curse of eternally bad leadership.
The current President, Ernest Bai Koroma, has been a fine enough leader, but he has sold Sierra Leone’s soul to China and has done little in terms of development.
With the most recent discovery of oil, I fear that conflict may someday break out again. It is my worst nightmare that Sierra Leone will turn into a large-scale Niger Delta. Thankfully, oil might take years if not decades to create conflict again in Sierra Leone. But is there another resource that poses a more imminent threat?
Corruption is a plague in Sierra Leone (and much of Africa for that matter). Once it gets in politics, there is often no stopping it. Samura’s documentary with Al-Jazeera shows that corruption stills happens in politics – and not just in small political offices in remote towns – but rather in national offices, like the Vice President’s.
In his documentary, one of Samura’s undercover researchers is told to set aside 100,000USD for bribes in order to illegally export timber from Sierra Leone. It is evident that corruption makes it so that any law in place is not binding. With corruption in high places such as the Vice President’s office, there is no hope for Sierra Leone to develop and overcome its severe poverty – not to mention become victim of the effects of environmental degradation that will likely only further hinder the country’s development and increase the poverty.