How is it that people living in the bushes of Sierra Leone without electricity, clean water, cars, and every other luxury that we as American’s have and in the middle of rainy season, can manage to find their way to the polls to vote for a new President in record numbers putting Black voters here in America to shame?
I’ll tell you why, because they look at their election much as we should, like our lives depend on it.
Sierra Leone held its first presidential election on Saturday since the end of its civil war five years ago. They had to choose between seven candidates to succeed President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah whose term is up after serving two five-year terms.
Side note: Eight years with President Bush has been eight too many. Could you imagine having to wait another two years to tell him bye-bye?
Media reports are saying that the vice-president and candidate for the ruling party Solomon Berewa, 69, is considered the likely winner. The main challenge comes from a 54-year-old opposition leader and businessman, Ernest Bai Koroma. The winner of the presidential race must take more than 55% of the vote or face a run-off contest. Besides electing a new President, Sierra Leoneans must also choose from more than 500 candidates who are vying for just over 100 parliamentary seats.
The final results are due within 12 days.
When I was in Sierra Leone earlier this year there was much talk about the election and the hopes of the people to get a President that would keep their word and really help the people. I heard stories about how the outgoing administration promised electricity across the whole country, which never happened. There was the promises of connecting the various remote islands of Sierra Leone with bridges, that also never happened and from I am told could never ever happen, not that people understood that. It just sounded good, and being a trusting people, they bought it hook line and sinker.
What the people of Sierra Leone desire more than anything is the ability to care for their families and that means access to work to make money and that currently is in short supply. If you think the job market here in America is small, take a trip to West Africa where if you are lucky you can find steady employment that’s not in a diamond mine and even those deathly treacherous jobs are hard to come by.
It’s a shame that us Blacks don’t head to the polls with the same fervor that our brothers and sisters overseas do. And to think, they didnât even need a Martin Luther King. Jr., Reverend Al Sharpton, Reverend Jesse Jackson, or Russell Simmons to tell them to go out and vote. Go figure?