COUNTRY FIRST – By Beresford Coker

By Beresford Coker

Beresford Coker is the Chairman and founder of Me Against Poverty
Beresford Coker is the Chairman and founder of Me Against Poverty(

After the fighting and disorder in Bo on September 9th, a lot of chatting erupted on Facebook almost immediately.  It is great to see so many people commenting on such a sensitive issue that has the potential to degenerate. After reading most of the post in FACEBOOK, it is clear that our hearts are in the right place. The question is how we spark this conversation nationally. There has to be a focus on national unity and patriotism. Tribalism is like a spell in Africa. It is one of the most cogent reasons that deter Africa’s progress. We need to break the spell and begin to think as Sierra Leoneans not as mende, temne, etc. With all due respect, most of the senior citizens that are in position of trust and responsibility are hardcore tribalist. They think about tribe and party first before thinking about the country. Due to their exposure to all our resources and their powerful connections, they manipulate the youths and get them to believe that they are working in their interest.

The youths are very vulnerable as millions of them lack basic amenities in life. They look up to these state men as their ultimate hope. This is a SCAM that our youths are unable to discern.  We need to focus on educating our youths and let them know the short and long term effects of their action. There has to be a national dialogue that addresses peace and unity. I almost think it should be embedded in the school curriculum. There has to be some sort of focus group that has equal representation from all tribes that can launch a nationwide campaign on peace and unity.

This group should have no political undertone and be very neutral. They can use some great marketing vehicles to disseminate the message> almost everyone has a cell phone now in the major cities. This group can launch text messaging campaign in collaboration with the cell/mobile phone providers. Instead of mobile phone providers trying to make more money from their customers, how about them being socially responsible. They can send text messages that encourages and support national unity and patriotism. The business community understands that they cannot thrive in political instability so they have to be part of the solution to make the country stable. Everyone has a stake in building Sierra Leone.

This tribalism stuff bothers me a lot. After all everyone has red and white blood cells not tribal cells. It’s great to be proud of your tribe because its part of our history but it always has to be country first and not the other way around. This is how the developed nations became developed by thinking and acting “COUNTRY FIRST” 


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