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Bockarie Kargbo: Sierra Leone Actor and Commercial Model

Bockarie Kargbo
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Bockarie Kargbo: Sierra Leone Actor and Commercial Model
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Bockarie Kargbo is a 29-year-old Fashion, Commercial Model and Actor from Bo Town Sierra Leone currently residing in Johannesburg South Africa. With a burning passion for performing arts and modelling, he decided to join 33 and Me Talent Agency in July 2021 and immediately fell in love with the craft. He soon blew away the team at 33 and Me with his talent, dedication and willingness to learn and apply knowledge.

While in Freetown he studied at Bluecrest College (SL) where he obtained his diploma in Network Engineering in 2014. What motivated him was the fact that he could change his story, and create a future of which he could be proud. Bockarie is also very passionate about fitness and taking care of physical strength and endurance and is an avid Tennis player, Coaching young people and creating an awareness and love for the sport he so enjoys playing.

His biggest inspiration in life is his friend and mentor Dr Onyeka Nwelue, who is Lecturer at Oxford University, and a Book Writer and Film Maker. Bockarie believes in facing fears, which will allow him to speak with crowds and teach others how to be brave in the face of adversity.

In 2021 Mr Kargbo auditioned for the International ARTS Talent Showcase, Africa’s largest talent convention where he obtained an award for the Best Commercial Male Model and he earned himself a spot to showcase Infront of the world’s prestigious and international celebrities such as Nate Butler – Jnr Casting Director for Steve Harvey Show, A&R for X-Factor America and a Singer that has sold over 52 million copies at last count. Blaze Johnson – The Voice of America, Rhavynn Drummer – Executive Casting Director for Tyler Perry Studios, AMDA and IMTA Representative Joey Hunter – The President of Ford Models in New York City for the past 30 years. He represented his country very well after he obtained a $60,000 scholarship from AMDA the largest performing arts academy in the world. Even though the scholarship was for his presence on stage as a model he dreams about a career in acting and is currently hard at work honing the skills acquired to polish his talent. He will be jetting off to America in July 2022 where he will be representing his country in front of more than 250 agents, managers, record labels, etc…

He has also been on several TV commercials like VISA, GLO cell and GoTV which were shown all over Africa. This boosted his self-confidence and credibility within the industry in Africa. He is adamant about showcasing his skills in becoming a well-known Actor. Currently, he is studying Computer Science at the University of the People in America and is hoping to achieve a First World education to be able to apply knowledge gained to help the people of his nation in understanding and apply technology effectively. He came from a place with few opportunities and to be able to make it to America motivates him to work even harder physically, emotionally and mentally.

To be chosen to represent himself and his country in America is a dream come true for him and the people that believe in him. His biggest role model is his loving mother Abie Kargbo. A strong woman that he has never seen giving up in life even when things got tough, she stands strong and is a strong believer in equality rights. A people person, and a formidable woman that always smiles and stays positive

AIG Patrick Johnson May Face Contempt of Court Charges

Police Constable
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AIG Patrick Johnson May Face Contempt of Court Charges
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The failure of a very senior police officer to respect the order of an interlocutory injunction granted in the High Court of Sierra Leone has caused us to react with dismay and make additional demands. The police abuse of authority in the land dispute between Mohamed Fahnbulleh ( Plaintiff/Applicant) and Assistant Inspector General of Police Patrick Johnson (Defendant/Respondent) at Gbaday Town, Kerry Town has persisted since the beginning of the case and has even worsened after the High Court of Sierra Leone, under Hon. Justice Manuela A.J. Harding issued an order on 27th July 2022 instructing both parties to stay away from the land.

Despite the court order issued in the land dispute between Mohamed Fahnbulleh and Assistant Inspector General of Police Patrick Johnson in Gbaday Town, Kerry Town, incidents of police abuse of authority against Mohamed Fahnbulleh have continued. There have been frequent, well-armed police patrols and the deployment of armed officers on the land without the approval or knowledge of the judge handling the case. Anonymous sources from the Waterloo Police Station have stated that these patrols often occur after receiving a phone call from A.I.G Patrick Johnson. It has also been reported that A.I.G Patrick Johnson made an official report at the Waterloo Police Station claiming that he is facing trespass on his land.

However, it is unclear who A.I.G Patrick Johnson made the report against or if he provided any documents to support his claims. It is also unknown if the Waterloo Police Station head is aware that A.I.G Patrick Johnson is currently facing legal action on the land by Mohamed Fahnbulleh. Why did A.I.G Patrick Johnson allegedly report the land case to the Waterloo Police Station when it is already being addressed by a competent court of law? Why are there constant armed police patrols and the deployment of armed officers and irate youth on the land, despite the interlocutory injunction order from the Sierra Leone High Court? Why do police at the Waterloo Police Station continue to patrol the land without the knowledge of the court, even after Mohamed Fahnbulleh provided evidence of the interlocutory injunction order from the High Court of Sierra Leone?

The alleged actions of a senior police officer, such as the continued abuse of authority and disregard for a court order, have led to concerns about the public trust being compromised. Police departments in Sierra Leone have policies in place that outline appropriate conduct for officers and regulate the use of police power. These policies should not be disregarded by police departments or their leaders, as they are in place to uphold both department policies and constitutional standards. While there is generally accountability for acts of abuse of office and other forms of wrongdoing within police departments, it appears that there is little to no accountability for those who allow such an environment to persist. It is unclear how a few policemen were able to disobey a court order without the knowledge of their supervisors or other department officials within the Sierra Leone Police Force. Even individuals with good intentions can make poor decisions when placed in the wrong circumstances. Poor supervision, intense peer pressure, and an organisational culture that sends conflicting messages can lead honourable men and women to behave in dishonourable ways.

Disputed Land

Police departments, like corporations, universities, labor unions, and government agencies, face the challenge of creating a culture that promotes the balance between achieving organisational goals and upholding fundamental principles of decency and fairness. Values within the Sierra Leone Police Force are not only outlined in documents but also derived from traditional police culture. However, there is often a disconnect between policies and practices, and a lack of proper monitoring and response from police management. If current police leadership does not actively work to establish a culture of integrity and accountability, officers may continue to develop their own, potentially harmful, culture.

The alleged actions of A.I.G Patrick Johnson highlight the importance of strong commitment from police leadership to uphold democratic values and prevent abuse of office practices. Police administrators should implement and enforce policies that regulate conduct, as well as systems for collecting and analyzing data on police-citizen interactions such as complaints of abuse of power and use of force incidents. This information can inform policy, guide recruitment, and training, and promote accountability to restore and maintain public trust in the police. It is often a lack of internal controls rather than individual officers that allows for problems of misconduct and abuse of power to persist within police departments. While it is important to recognize that most police officers in Sierra Leone are honest and dedicated public servants, it is also important to acknowledge that they, along with the public they serve, can be victims of misconduct by their colleagues. The police have a significant amount of power and influence in the lives of Sierra Leonean citizens, and it is crucial that they use this power responsibly.

Police on disputed land

The way in which police officers respond to and interact with citizens, including their respect for the law and the methods they use to enforce it, has significant consequences for democracy and the quality of life for citizens. As Jerome Skolnick states in his essay On Democratic Policing, “Order achieved through democratic policing is concerned not only with the ends of crime control but also with the means used to achieve those ends.” It is important to consider whether police abuses are inevitable in the pursuit of crime control and to examine the views of police officers on issues such as the code of silence, whistle-blowing, and the influence of class on police behavior. Additionally, it is important to explore effective ways to prevent abuse of authority by the police.

This case will offer insight into the views of Sierra Leone’s police officers on issues of abuse of authority and other important questions.

Court Document

Download the pdf version of the court order below

IN THE HIGH COURT OF SIERRA LEONE

Attempts to obtain AIG Patrick Johnson’s perspective on the matter were unsuccessful.

 

Future of Local Journalism After Philip Neville’s Mysterious Death

Phillip Neville
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Future of Local Journalism After Philip Neville's Mysterious Death
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The late Philip Neville consistently exposed many wrongdoers in Sierra Leone using his trailblazing investigative journalistic skills for many years. However, there is an increasing amount of anger going around immediately after it was reported that the late journalist passed away after a mysterious hit by a motorcycle rider.
It came into the minds of some and one of them wrote:
“So, this journalist named Philip Neville gets hit by a motorcycle rider in a masquerade at his Kosso village and later passed away and we’re supposed to care? Don’t get me wrong, such mysterious death is and always will be wrong and warrants investigation by the Sierra Leone Police force, if it’s reckless conduct, it is illegal and a violation of God’s laws, which means I wouldn’t do it and most decent Sierra Leoneans wouldn’t either. But ask yourself this question: Are you really sorry a ‘journalist’ is dead? Who allegedly called Philip Neville’s phone before he moved away from the masquerade crowd to answer the call and was later hit by a motorcycle rider?

 I don’t care about this dead journalist because journalists in Sierra Leone don’t care about the truth, so what good are they alive?” 

The writer goes on to detail a story that ran in The Standard Times about a corrupt government official who used abusive language in responding to a commentary.

“And you know what?” he wrote as I squeezed him further to expose his bitterness about a man who wasn’t perfect, but spent a good number of his years on earth busy executing his profession professionally for the good of his country and people.

“If this guy completely imploded and recklessly killed all of Media One’s executive staff, I wouldn’t approve of what he did but I also wouldn’t shed a tear, either. The truth is that most recklessly killed or murdered victims have it coming. It is a fact that most recklessly killed victims know the person who recklessly killed or murdered them and they usually did or didn’t do something that just about assured their reckless killer or murder … That is what has changed in Sierra Leone; today if a journalist is recklessly killed or murdered, nobody outside the radical left and the politically corrupt media is really going to care. Frankly, the media has lost its usefulness to our society, so why would we ever miss them?”  

But do right-minded nationals really expect the past and current corrupt people in social positions of trust in Sierra Leone and beyond to care about the mysterious death of a journalist that exposed their rots for decades? Maybe some will, but others see it as an opportunity to vent their years of deep-seated anger against his dead body. Yet they can express their deepest sympathy to the family members of rogue politicians and corporate rogues when they passed away, but not when a journalist who spent his time on earth fighting to ensure the oddities that are holding our nation backward are corrected for the general good.

There are generally accepted moral principles that discourage speaking ill of the dead. These principles often stem from the belief that it is not respectful or compassionate to speak negatively about someone who is no longer alive to defend themselves or to offer their perspective on the matter. In general, it is considered more compassionate and respectful to speak kindly of the dead and to focus on the positive aspects of their life and character. It may be in your interest and outright beneficial to you to speak of the wrongs of Philip Neville at this time. But is this of any help to the national discourse?

A few weeks back was the Presidential press cocktail hosted by President Bio and it was in my every intention to write a piece for this page espousing the benefits of local news and praising a country that would weave such a right into its founding documents.

But my workload got a little heavy and the day I usually set aside for extra writing projects — was booked with something else: The Society of Professional Journalists webinar. I know that Philip Neville and many quality journalists get it wrong sometimes. But I honestly have never met a group of professionals so fiercely dedicated to their jobs that they’d sacrifice their lives to write and talk about how to get it right in Sierra Leone.

I know the political landscape has inexplicably tangled itself into questions about the independent media’s existence. It’s raised even the most fundamental questions of what our job means, when we’re allowed to do it, how well we do it, and if we should be allowed to do it at all. It doesn’t extract from that discussion the complicated differences between what we have always understood as the press, and what we’re currently defining as the media.

Our personal and political division has somehow leached into our understanding of what commentators are and how they differ from what journalists are. It is within that confusion that local journalists like Philip Neville and others are paying the price for the media machine of the politically corrupt-held news driven by metrics and ratings.

Branded “news” personalities engage in hateful rantings far removed from the tenants of journalism, then cast local journalists in the role of villains for their audiences.

And so, here we are.

The stakes are high, and our sense of community and our trust in democracy at all levels suffer when independent journalism is lost or diminished. In an age of fake news and divisive politics, the fate of communities across the country — and of grassroots democracy itself — is linked to the vitality of local journalism a course the late Philip Neville championed till his last day.

That premise, illustrated by the anger of someone that once held a social position of trust in Sierra Leone that landed in a WhatsApp forum this week, is no longer readily believed.

And that’s our fault.

As journalists, we’ve failed to understand that we’ve been allowed to educate the electorate because the electorate has allowed us to. We grew too far away from the duty gifted to us in the Constitution in the quest to brand ourselves and increase our personal worth in an industry that was crumbling around us.

We threw around terms like “media literacy” when we really just meant we had failed so hard at explaining to our communities how we do our jobs that our communities no longer understood what we were doing — or how.

We started buying into the concept of “engagement” as if it wasn’t something we were supposed to be doing all along. And when we got it wrong, we stopped apologising.

Because, sometimes, we do get it wrong; everybody does. The plumber installs the wrong fixture; the mail carrier delivers packages to the wrong house and waiters bring the wrong food.

Journalism, like all of these professions, is a profession of service and our intentions, like theirs, are good. And just as a wrong fixture or mail mix-up wouldn’t warrant the reckless display of anger against a dead plumber and a mail carrier, neither should an error in a news story carry the penalty of character assassination for a dead journalist.

So, while my intention had been to write a sunny story about the benefits of local news, I’ll instead say this:

In Sierra Leone, I always get out of my car, one arm raised in an open-handed wave, the other clearly holding my notebook when I stop at the end of a long, dirt driveway and am greeted by someone who may not know why I’m there — a gun tucked at their hip.

Once, a rifle in their hand.

I’ve made appointments with farmers in the middle of nowhere; have taken tours of towns in the passenger seat of a car owned by people I’ve just met; followed demonstrators into crowds, follow masquerades behind the curtains and craftsmen into the back of welding and “ataya base” shops — all to better tell their story.

It’s become too easy and too common for some to harass journalists under the guise of sticking it to the nebulous concept of “the mainstream media.” But for every story we read, there’s a journalist on the other side of it who followed someone into a demonstration, to a masquerade, to the back of the shop, around town, or onto a corrupt government transaction with international neocolonial rogue institutions.

Or into a corporate rogue deal with the support of our political figureheads. Some of them, like Philip Neville and others, never come home.

Admittedly, in Sierra Leone, I’ve gotten it wrong. But the only way this continues to work — the only way local news doesn’t fall into the darkness of things that once were is; if should we get it wrong, we’re given the opportunity to make it right when we are alive and not wait to throw deep-seated anger against us when we pass away. And that those mistakes come with understanding:

An understanding on the part of readers that we’re not acting out of malice and we’re not going to be perfect;

And an understanding on the part of journalists that we must be willing to sacrifice some of our busy schedules to learn how to do it better. Because our communities deserve it.

Intimidating journalists is a serious problem that can have a chilling effect on the freedom of the press and the ability of journalists to do their job. When journalists are intimidated, they may be less likely to report on sensitive or controversial topics, which can result in a less informed public and less accountability for those in power. Intimidation can take many forms, including physical violence, threats, legal action, and other forms of harassment. It is important for governments, media organizations, and civil society groups to work together to ensure that journalists can carry out their work without fear of intimidation. This requires strong legal protections for journalists, as well as efforts to promote a culture of press freedom and respect for freedom of expression.

May You Rest in Perfect Peace, Philip Neville.

Rebounding Adam Smith’s Politics

Adam Smith
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Rebounding Adam Smith's Politics
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The importance of Adam Smith for the development of economic thought can hardly be exaggerated. As the economist Kenneth Boulding once put it, the great Scot can be rightly understood as “being both the Adam and the Smith of systematic economics.” When we recognise that Smith stands at the beginning of what would only later become the modern discipline of economics, the picture becomes somewhat more complicated. Smith was not himself an economist, at least in anything resembling the contemporary sense. He could not have been, because the discipline itself was embryonic in his own time.

Smith’s own discipline was moral philosophy, and it is only by forgetting this broader intellectual context within which Smith’s work on political economy was situated that Smith could be understood narrowly as an economist in anything like a contemporary sense. A recent work by political theorist Paul Sagar reminds us that in Smith’s time, and in significant part because of Smith’s own contributions, economics was more closely wedded to politics. Adam Smith Reconsidered reminds us of the true foundations of the discipline of political economy.

It is in this sense that I desire for Smith to be “reconsidered” as an important theorist and thinker of modern politics. This reconsidered Smith has a number of merits, not least of which is that his analysis and concerns about the emerging modern society still resonate today. My study begins with some foundational correctives to received wisdom in the scholarship concerning Smith, and on the basis of these technical arguments proceeds to outline some significant implications for a Smithian understanding of the liberal order and its rise, flourishing, and decline.

I proceed by building on some nuanced engagements of previous scholarship and reading of Smith’s texts, arguing, for example, for a much more technical understanding of the phrase “commercial society” than is typically offered and a revision of the so-called “stadial theory” of human development. In many ways, these detailed arguments are foundational for one of my most significant claims, which is that Smith has much to teach us today about the relationship between economics and politics.

Here, I explore the role of institutions, and how they influence each other and, in turn, the choices of individuals in our society. Economic motivation, profit, and acquisition of wealth turn out to be far less morally suspect and culturally problematic than the undue influence of economic institutions, firms, and businesses on the political process—and vice versa.

Defining the Commercial Society

I offer a close reading of Smith’s texts, giving attention to the nuance and details of his thought. A key feature of my analysis has to do with the idea of a “commercial society,” a staple of scholarship about Smith.

I argue that many use the terminology of “commercial society” in anachronistic, imprecise, or potentially misleading ways. It can be used to refer to “the large eighteenth-century trading states of Smith’s day”, “as a rough synonym for a consumption-driven economy,” or even as “a generic term for what is now known as liberal capitalism.” Each of these three phenomena is significant for understanding Smith’s thought, and not necessarily illegitimate even if they all take later terms (such as “capitalism”) and apply them backward to Smith’s own thought.

But Smith’s own terminology is precise, and his distinctions between different kinds of societies, and concerning the distinctive features of commercial society, in particular, are much more careful and nuanced than such loose approximations. As I write, there are two places in Smith’s body of work where he explicitly refers to “commercial society.” And “in both cases, the term ‘commercial society’ is restricted by Smith to the analysis of the internal relations of members of a community, with regard to how those members attain their ‘wants’, in the context of increasingly widespread and advanced realisation of the division of labour.” A society in this way has to do with the internal relations of a particular polity, and a commercial society is just such a community whose internal relations are characterised by commerce. That is, in a commercial society, the primary way in which we relate to others is through commerce.

There’s a sense in this attention to technical detail that opens up an understanding of Smith as a careful and systematic thinker. “Society” for Smith has a precise meaning and significance, as does the idea of a “nation” or “state.” And while there is certainly some conceptual overlap, these terms are not synonyms and their particular meanings should be attended to when used by Smith in precise ways. Thus, I argue, Smith “used the term ‘commercial society’ with great theoretical precision,” and politicians in charge of state affairs in Sierra Leone risk misunderstanding Smith’s larger project if they do not appreciate that precision.

Conceptualising Civilisational Development

My larger case depends on my arguments concerning Smith’s technical terminological usage, as well as some other elements of Smith’s thought such as the so-called “four stages” model of civilisational development. On the standard version of this model, a commercial society stands as the fourth and final stage of human historical development. It is the most advanced stage and is preceded by the ages of hunter-gatherers, shepherds, and farmers.

For me, this “four stage” model is best understood as an ideal theory of how European civilisation would have developed apart from various concrete historical circumstances and political realities. This model is, in this sense, a kind of “pure economic theory,” and is not intended by Smith to be an account of actual historical development. As an ideal theory, it helps identify other causal factors in actual history. Whenever a particular society or nation moves through history in ways that diverge from this theoretical account, it is a signal that something beyond the straightforward economic logic of development is at play.

We need to be sensitive to the complex nature of Smith’s thought if we are to do justice to the interplay between economic and political phenomena, both in his own day and ours.

In this way, I argue, “What the ‘four stages’ theory seeks to show is how human societies would have developed, according to the ‘natural’ progress of pure economic relations, had they not been subjected to the shock of ‘human institutions.’ But what actually happens, in reality, is that there are causes beyond the economic, which have important effects that must be considered when developing a program of political economy informed by moral philosophy.

When the precise conceptualisation of “commercial society” is combined with this distinction between theoretical historical modeling and actual historical development, we arrive at some interesting discoveries. For instance, there is the possibility of a commercial society that is not a commercial nation or country. That is, a national polity might be characterised internally by predominately commercial relations but not relating externally to other nations in that same manner.

Thus, I argue, “To understand Smith’s political thought, therefore, we need to understand his assessment of the precise politics of modern Europe, which means leaving behind the economic modeling device of the four stages theory, and engaging with Smith’s account of the real history of how post-feudal European politics emerged, what is distinctive about it, and hence where its true strengths and weaknesses lie.”

Corruption and Commerce

Smith is particularly attentive to the ways in which institutions—particularly political institutions—corrupt the course of human historical development. He is not concerned with answering the cultural critiques of markets raised by Rousseau, which were not sophisticated enough to figure heavily in Smith’s arguments. Markets or commercial society, on this account, are not significant sources of moral corruption.

Smith did understand, of course, that economic power and wealth could corrupt moral sentiments. This is, as I put it, a generically human phenomenon. It isn’t the case, however, that modern European states were (or are) uniquely prone to this universal human temptation. “For Smith,” I write, “moral corruption was not unique to, nor especially problematic in, ‘commercial society’ (that of modern Europe, or anywhere else).”

A particularly noteworthy aspect of my larger argument is his evaluation of the source of motivation in economic activity, particularly in advanced societies. For me, it isn’t a straightforward case that approbation or vanity drives economic activity on Smith’s account. To the extent that these are factors in moving people to commercial activity, they rely on something more fundamental and basic in the human person.

It is here that I provide a reinterpretation of the morality tale of the rich man’s son, for instance. Rather than simply being driven by the desire to be seen and approved of, and mistaking the means of achieving such recognition, the poor man’s son is a victim of the “quirk of human rationality” that, as I put it, “over-values the means of utility rather than the utility itself.” The ambition of the poor man’s son ends up being an ambition of consumption, the “deception” to think that “by acquiring more means of utility, we will eventually become satisfied.” This is mistaken, and thus there is a deep error, the result of the “quirk of human rationality,” at the heart of market economies.

My point here is that the poor man’s son is an extreme example intended to illustrate a truth about everyone operating within the context of a market economy. There is a human tendency to focus, even to the point of obsession, on the acquisition of the means of pursuing happiness, rather than more coolly and rationally assessing the actual contribution of those “trinkets” to happiness. This is what I call a “quirk,” but is really a thoroughgoing feature of human psychology that explains why the increased acquisition of the means of happiness does not necessarily result in increased happiness. At a certain point and in many concrete cases, there are not only diminishing returns on having more useful things, but in fact, these can actually create negative returns. If we take money as representative of such a useful means, then we might simply observe more money and more problems.

My novel interpretation of Smith’s account of human motivation in advanced commercial societies may or may not be accurate. It at least has the merit, though, of explaining important features of Smith’s ideas that are not always accounted for cogently. Smith discusses at length and at various points in Theory of Moral Sentiments something like my “quirk,” as he addresses the question, “How many people ruin themselves by laying out money on trinkets of frivolous utility?”

Ultimately, on my account, it isn’t the inherent immorality of market systems that presents the greatest danger to modern societies. “Not only is it false to claim that Smith thinks that something called ‘commercial society’ tends especially to corrupt the individuals who live within it,” I write, “it is also false to hold that he thinks that societies characterised by a high degree of economic consumption are themselves morally compromised due to a foundation in the pursuit of vanity. Smith does not endorse either claim.”

The great corrupting threat is, instead, the concentrated economic power that uses political means to further enrich its own possessors and entrench its elite status. On my account, the dangers of so-called “crony capitalism” rank much higher and are much more salient for Smith than any of the moralising criticisms of capitalism’s cultured despisers. In this way, Smith is concerned with “the political dangers arising out of the systemic corruption propagated by the merchant and manufacturing classes.” And it is in this conclusion that I emphasise on putting the political back into the study of the Smithian political economy bears significant fruit.

As much as Smith was concerned with economic theory, he wasn’t a reductivist with respect to commercial and material phenomena. Smith’s work is the result of a genius that is attentive to a wide diversity of historical contexts, the nuance and complexity of human psychology and rationality, and the temptations of political corruption. Just as the law can be a force for good–as in Smith’s account of the rise of the common law as a check on arbitrary power–the law can also be corrupted and perverted to favour the rich and powerful as we continue to experience in Sierra Leone.

In this volume I give a Smith worth reconsidering, and, indeed, one worth encountering again for insights into the virtues, vices, strengths, and weaknesses of the modern world.

APC Establishment Revisiting its Trickster Menu

APC 2023
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APC Establishment Revisiting its Trickster Menu
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The idea of the All People’s Congress’ rogue establishment democracy in Sierra Leone has become so closely identified with elections that we are in danger of forgetting their modern history of representative elections is a tale of authoritarian manipulations as much as it is a saga of democratic triumphs. Generally, in other words, elections for the APC rogue establishment have been an instrument of rogue APC establishment authoritarian control as well as a means of democratic governance.

Since the early days of the All People’s Congress’ rogue establishment wave of national democratisation, it has been clear that their desperation to sustain their authoritarian rule to disenfranchise the suffering majority can lead anywhere. Over the past decade and a half, many have led to the establishment of some form of fake democracy. They have given birth to new forms of authoritarianism that do not fit into our classic categories of one-party, military, or personal dictatorship. They have produced a rogue establishment that holds elections and endures some pluralism and interparty competition, but at the same time violate standard democratic norms so severely and systematically that it makes no sense to classify them as democratic in nature, however, qualified.

The current APC rogue establishment does not represent little, defective, or distorted forms of democracy. It is an instance of authoritarian rule. The time has come to abandon the misleading labels of the APC rogue establishment and to take their non-democratic nature seriously even as they again revisit their manipulation menu in the coming lower-level APC elections.

The truth is the APC’s rogue establishment as an authoritarian regime, neither practices democracy nor resorts regularly to naked repression. By organising periodic elections they try to obtain at least a semblance of democratic legitimacy, hoping to satisfy external as well as internal actors. At the same time, by placing those elections under tight authoritarian controls they try to cement their continued hold on power at the expense of those that saw the need to reform the APC to meet to the test of times. The dream of the rogue APC establishment is to reap the fruits of electoral legitimacy without running the risks of democratic uncertainty. Balancing between electoral control and electoral credibility, they situate themselves in a nebulous zone of structural ambivalence.

Delimiting the blurry frontiers of electoral authoritarianism even in lower-level elections cannot help, but be a complex and controversial task. Perhaps the best way to get a handle on the problem is to take a fresh look at the normative presuppositions that underlie the idea of democratic elections within the APC establishment rogues.

But what does “democracy” mean in this context? How sharp is the distinction between “democratic” and “authoritarian” rogues? Political party democracy, many argue, is not a matter of “either/or” but of more or less: The APC rogue establishment must understand that democracy is not simply present or absent, but admits of degrees. They must learn how to understand that a qualitative difference separates democracy from authoritarianism. The APC rogue establishment is not less democratic than democracies, but plainly undemocratic.

The Cloudy Area

The hard but uncomfortable truth is the APC rogue establishment is clearly an authoritarian cabal meant to exploit the suffering majority. They settle in the wide and cloudy area between liberal democracy and closed authoritarianism. To order this cartel of very dangerous nationals masquerading as a political party establishment, others have been working with broad intermediate categories like “democratising political party” or “semi-democracy.” Some have been developing lists of more specific “diminished subtypes” such as “illiberal” or “delegative” democracy. Personally, I propose to fill the conceptual space between the opposite poles of liberal democracy and closed authoritarianism with two symmetrical categories: electoral democracy and electoral authoritarianism. The resulting fourfold typology captures significant variation in the broad area between the poles without abandoning the idea that a meaningful distinction may be drawn between democratic and APC rogue authoritarian establishment.

This is so because the distinction between liberal and electoral democracies derives from the common idea that elections are a necessary but not a sufficient condition for modern democracy. Such a rogue APC establishment cannot exist without elections, but elections alone are not enough. While liberal democracies go beyond the electoral minimum, electoral democracies do not. They manage to “get elections wrong from the outset” and go on failing to institutionalise other vital dimensions of democratic constitutionalism, such as the rule of law, political accountability, bureaucratic integrity, and public deliberation.

The distinction between electoral democracy and rogue APC establishment authoritarianism builds upon the common affirmation that democracy requires elections, not just any kind of elections.

They need to be fully democratic by nature.

Understanding The “PAOPA” Diversity

Paopa Marketing
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Understanding The “PAOPA” Diversity
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Diversity has become the euphemism for social justice of the “Paopa” elite on the national scale. Real diversity, and thus real variety, would dissolve the very existence of the meaning of elitism. It would be defined by the inclusiveness of the abnormal, and other underrepresented and uncounted minorities into the general population of our contraption. It would be not just the intelligent (however that is defined), but also the unintelligent. Not just the functional, but also the dysfunctional. Not just the abled, but the disabled. Not just the tolerant, but the intolerant. Not just the intellectual, but the anti-intellectual. And it would not be these opposites, but everything in between. As it stands today, diversity is about social justice for “equals” within their respective classes. Thus, my activism for sincere diversity has been for maintaining the traditional social stratification and disparity of power by consolidating interactive systems of people and balancing the counterparts of each system.

The problem with this is that real diversity only connotes variety. Diversity in today’s terms is about achieving a regional and ethnic balance within each stratum of social class. To illustrate this point, it is akin to the infinite mirror effect. The goal of diversity is to stabilise a percentage that corresponds to the general population within all levels of social stratification (wealthy, upper middle class, middle class, working class, poor) so that tribe or region has no bearing on socioeconomic status. But real “Paopa” diversity is seen more like chaos and randomness than the consistent pattern that the infinite recursion would show in the macro viewing.

Since this is the prevailing situation, then the “Paopa” activists for diversity are neither fighting for real diversity nor are they fighting for true social justice. What they are really fighting for is a seat for themselves – and thus their respective group – at the table of the elites. This entails maintaining and “improving” the traditional hierarchy and boundaries of the “Paopa” meritocratic classes to make outcomes “fairer” for deserving equals. But “Paopa” meritocracy – considered to be a legitimate method behind the selection process of the elites – has flaws of its own.

If “Paopa” meritocracy is ruled by those with merit, and that merit comes from superior intellect, then intelligence has to come from some objective value so that the system is fair. Unfortunately, “Paopa” intelligence lacks this quality as sensing and sensitivity are purely subjective matters until it is communicated and understood. But what about those who can’t understand and those who can’t be understood? How are we to decide who is intelligent when understanding is necessary on both parts? It is only when intelligence is monopolised through sensitisation that an objective shared reality is created, and this is the main “Paopa” flaw. A uniformity of intelligence won’t take into account all other forms and expressions of intelligence.

The “Paopa” flaws of this endeavour of “social justice” infiltrate not only the meritocratic process but also the end product, the establishment of social classes with commensurate influence. As people become filtered into their respective classes, the few at the top with their “superhuman” and “supernatural” abilities become the charismatic rulers for the many. These people display their God-given talents in a theatrical showing of magic and the rest become entrapped in their own powerlessness. The patronising ways of the “Paopa” elite inevitably convince people to support initiatives that are against their own interests.

The greatest injustice of all is when others tell you what to value (certain concepts of equality) and what to believe even if it may not be “true” and consistent with some external, credible, and established framework. What is really going on is an attack on individual autonomy and the freedom to decide.

Current “Paopa” activists for diversity are no young Turks, but rather false prophets. It’s the vision of the uniformity of diversity where the “best of the best” leaves no room for real diversity or social justice.

Culture Shapes Our Ordinary Life

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Culture Shapes Our Ordinary Life
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If the governing Sierra Leone People’s Party learns anything from the history of economic development, it is that culture makes almost all the difference.

In 1993 the Nobel Prize in Economics was awarded to Robert Fogel and Douglass North for their work in economic history. North won primarily because he drew attention to the need to understand the history of the development of market economies in terms of institutions—the patterns through which we undertake economic activity. His main point was that high transaction costs choke off economic activity, low transaction costs stoke it, and institutions are therefore important because they help keep transaction costs low.

This was a powerful and transformative position. It changed how economic historians and development economists looked at the world forever. The story of economic development was no longer driven by the evolution of policy. It was now coming from something deeper, from foundational institutions like property rights and third-party contract enforcement. It answered the question, “Why are some countries rich but most are poor?” in a very simple but powerful way. There was abundant evidence to back it up, but it was so logically compelling it almost had to be true.

Now suppose an individual from a poor country moves to a rich country and quickly starts to prosper. Most economists, especially after North, Acemoglu, and Robinson, would argue that this happens because the rich country has better institutions.

But what if suddenly, thriving is just what happens when honest, hardworking people from poor countries are dropped into high-trust societies? In this case, it’s trust, not institutions, that makes the difference because a high-trust society reduces transaction costs as nothing else can.

This is not to say that institutions aren’t important. Institutions keep transaction costs low and therefore economic activity high. But if institutions were at the beginning and end of the story, then any poor country like Sierra Leone could become a rich country by simply adopting the institutions that have already proven their worth in rich societies. The templates are ready and genuine experts from rich countries are eager to assist with implementation.

This has been tried repeatedly in Sierra Leone and it almost never works. Why? There are many answers, most correct to some extent, but let’s focus on just one. Many of the social, political, and economic institutions that those in rich societies take for granted—things like democratic voting, central banking that produces sound money, and courts that protect and promote the rule of law—are either absent or highly corrupted in Sierra Leone and other low-trust societies. This is because they are themselves highly trust dependent. In short, high-trust societies provide a foundation for the institutional landscape. But high-trust societies rest, in turn, on a cultural foundation. So, trust dependent institutions in the absence of a culture that can sustain a high-trust society are like a hammer without a carpenter.

I am not arguing that culture matters in Sierra Leone because institutions don’t. Quite the opposite. It is because institutions are so important that culture matters so much. When certain kinds of moral beliefs—an obvious part of any society’s culture—are culturally transmitted from one generation to the next, a high-trust society exists, which is the pillar of thriving free market democracy. Saying that culture matters greatly, perhaps even most of all does not imply that you believe institutions don’t matter anymore than saying that a car without an engine cannot work implies that you believe that tyres don’t matter.

How Does Culture Make High-Trust Societies?

Near the end of his career, North began to incorporate culture into his work by considering how belief systems affect the institutional environment. Path-breaking economists like Deirdre McCloskey and Joel Mokyr have also drawn a great deal of attention to culture. They argued that the ideas, beliefs, and values of pre-industrial Europe set the stage for a second scientific revolution that ultimately unleashed the Industrial Revolution. This means that culture was in some ways primary to the institutions that get most of the attention. I agree.

But in my latest argument, I explain why these ideas, beliefs, and values would not have worked so well were it not for their being culturally transmitted. Moreover, without a trust-producing culture, a high-trust society would not have emerged. And from a high-trust society, institutions like the free market and democracy, come into existence.

We don’t ponder whether to blink when dust blows into our eyes. We don’t also ponder whether to express sympathy to a friend upon hearing his mother died. Both of these examples involve behaviour that is rather automatic, almost as if it was encoded as an “if-then” statement in a computer program. But there is an important difference between these two examples.

The first is baked in our genetic cake and is thereby a product of hardwired neural architecture. The second is learned early in life and is therefore better described as a cultural practice that is a product of constructed neural architecture. At its core, culture is a uniquely effective mechanism for cultivating a consistent, constructed neural architecture in society to solve problems that are not well solved either by genetic encoding or by unfettered rational decision-making.

Cultural anthropologists have documented that a surprising amount of behaviour conforms to encoding through constructed neural architecture. Indeed, the variation in cultural practices we observe across groups would be impossible if all neural architecture associated with social behaviour were hardwired as it is with social insects like bees.

But if all behaviour was consciously rational in the sense of Daniel Kahneman’s System; 2 mode of thinking, then our universal capacity for rationality would drive all groups to the uniformity of best practice. Just as perfect competition drives the price all firms charge to the same level, competition between groups would leave no choice but to choose the most rational course of action in response to any given circumstance.

Adam Smith didn’t think of the world in this quintessentially neoclassical way. In his Theory of Moral Sentiments, he explained how our sensitivity to approval and disapproval provided a mechanism for responses to be consistent within the group yet able to be different across groups and therefore able to adapt to local conditions. These responses were not irrational—there is happiness and sadness to be derived from approval and disapproval—but they were also not fully consciously rational either because Kahneman’s System 1 thinking connects the approved response to any given circumstance so quickly that the executive function of the brain is circumvented. This is better described as pre-rational than irrational, and it is easy to imagine how it contributes to group harmony. It is why you automatically offer words of sympathy to your friend upon hearing from him that his mother just died.

Another important part of culture is a group’s shared beliefs about right and wrong and how the world works. Although our ability to create, teach, and learn such moral and scientific beliefs is hardwired, the beliefs themselves are not, so they must be retaught each generation. This explains why moral and scientific beliefs vary so much across groups while blinking in response to dust does not.

If high-trust societies were products of our hardwired neural architecture, like honeycombs are for bees, then all human societies would already be high-trust societies. But they aren’t for one very simple reason: nearly all of our evolution took place in very small groups so there has been too little time for sufficient reinforcement of genes that would support large group trust. In short, the mechanisms that make small group trust possible, do not scale up. So high trust societies must be built on something beyond genes.

Some cultures convey particular moral beliefs—a particularly important form of cultural content—that construct the neural architecture that makes the rejection of untrustworthy actions virtually automatic. The earlier they are taught, the stronger they are reinforced, and the more they take precedence over other beliefs, the more likely that behaving in an untrustworthy way isn’t even considered in adulthood in all but the most exceptional of circumstances.

The Need to Rediscover Trust

Over the last few days at least a dozen or so opportunities have come along to benefit yourself by behaving in an untrustworthy way, some with no chance of being caught (Robert Frank dubbed these “golden opportunities”). But you didn’t act on any of them. And this was not because over and over you rationally chose not to. You didn’t behave in an untrustworthy way mostly because it simply did not cross your mind.

When individuals in social positions of trust under the Bio-led government abide in moral beliefs that lead them to believe that untrustworthy behaviour is always wrong, they know it will always result in experiencing feelings of guilt. This pain is real. When a critical mass of individuals abides by such beliefs, it becomes rational to presume most others can be trusted in most circumstances, producing a high-trust society. This reduces transaction costs to make cooperation on a grand scale possible. This unleashed human flourishing as never before.

But this is not a story where institutions create the trust upon which they depend in some kind of causal dog spin as we continue to experience in Sierra Leone. This is a story whereby cultural content that is culturally transmitted creates conditions necessary for trust and therefore trust dependent institutions are able to emerge and persist. If all there was to having a high trust society was choosing trust-producing institutions, societies would just choose them. But they can’t without the right kind of cultural foundation.

One reason why culture is often overlooked in Sierra Leone is that trust is simply not in most people working in social positions of trust radar screen. Those who live in high-trust societies are largely oblivious to how much they benefit from trust. This is because the high trust society produces benefits mostly through non-events that can’t possibly be observed, things like not being robbed and not being cheated. High-trust societies are like seas and those who live in them are like fish. As the saying goes, fish are always the last to discover water. But without appreciating the awesome power of trust, it is hard to recognise the importance of culture that makes it, and the institutions we cherish, possible.

Can Sierra Leone walk to freedom in Mandela’s memory?

Nelson Mandela
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Can Sierra Leone walk to freedom in Mandela’s memory?
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By Mahmud Tim Kargbo.

Nelson Mandela led a singular life of sacrifice, dignity, and political genius that brought about the peaceful end of one of the great evils of the African continent’s liberation struggles. The most important lesson he left us with, however, is not about the promise of visionary leadership. Rather, I believe, it is about the potential within each of us individually – men, women, citizens everywhere – to help build just and cohesive societies.

On a continent cursed by the blight of the “big man” leader, Mandela – our one leader deserving of that status – rejected the rule of strongman in favour of a commitment to establishing lasting democratic institutions. At every juncture – when he could have made the struggle, and the ultimate victory, over apartheid about himself – he invested his authority in building a Party, a State, and a Rule of Law that was greater than any individual. By stepping down after one term in office, the former South African president set an example that too few of his peers in the continent had the courage to follow.

Coming from the most unequal of societies, he understood the corrosive nature of great divisions of wealth and power. And he knew that, for future generations of South Africans, political rights were incomplete without economic rights and access to equal opportunities.  Something Sierra Leone lacks, since gaining independence until today. So, what legacy can we follow from our elders in past and current social positions of trust in Sierra Leone who continue to train and feed the potential human resources of Sierra Leone (the youth) their unproductive politics and narcotics in order to make them permanent political tools and further widen the inequality gap in the country?

For my generation of Africans, Mandela performed exceptional service. 

During the independence struggle of Sierra Leone, more than half – a century ago, those who were fortunate then witnessed the exhilarating possibility of positive peaceful change, only to later see Sierra Leone’s youthful hopes for self-determination and economic development betrayed by more than half a century of misrule from civilian governments and military coups. By ending Sierra Leone’s eleven years deadly war peacefully through a relentless commitment to dialogue, reconciliation, and power-sharing, as well as an extraordinary partnership with the late Revolutionary United Front’s Corporal Foday Sankoh (the brutal rebel figurehead, whose status became similar to that of the then Vice President in the late President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah’s government). That restored Sierra Leoneans’ faith as nationals in the possibility that we might, with our own hands, shape a future worthy of the immense sacrifice of our youth in the eleven years of deadly war caused by the actions of our very self-centered politicians.

However, 20 years since the end of one of the most brutal wars fought in modern history, our political figureheads and others in social positions of trust remain the same. As all the factors that were responsible for the eleven years of civil war continue to manifest themselves vividly in all works of life.

Sierra Leone continues to be governed by elected rulers falsely committed to building sustainable pillars of legitimate government to serve all nationals irrespective of their tribes, political party affiliations, geographical locations, religion, and status as stated in our constitution. This would have been a reflection of how Mandela’s example continues to inspire Sierra Leone if these commitments had been lived up to. A mischievous sense of humour and an irreverent attitude to power were powerful weapons in a formidable personal armoury. Mandela may have been the world’s best known and most revered political figure, but he was the most gentle, good-humoured, and mischievous of icons.

These were the words of the late UN Secretary General, Mr. Kofie Anan, when I asked him about his thoughts on Mandela’s legacy whilst addressing us at the Young African Leaders Summit hosted by his Kofi Anan Institute in Accra: “As UN secretary general, I grew used to being greeted by him, with a big smile, as “Boss.” I made a point of speaking to him regularly on the telephone and he remained an indispensable source of wisdom and guidance beyond my day-to-day crisis management.

When it came to facing the reality of HIV/Aids in Africa, Mandela was an inspiration to all of us who came together to create the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. In the run-up to the catastrophic invasion of Iraq in 2003 – as I sought to secure through peaceful means Iraq’s compliance with the resolutions of the UN Security Council – Mandela’s reassuring voice would steady my resolve to seek unity over division.

In brokering a power-sharing agreement between Burundi’s squabbling parties, his admonition to them – “The way you are behaving makes me feel ashamed to be an African” – carried a force that no militia, however misguided, could ignore. His unique global authority – moral, political, and personal – set a very high bar for those who would persist with the folly of conflict.”

Though I was too young by then, for all that I believe Mandela’s example has become a common heritage of humanity, he was at his core, an African. Completing his long walk to freedom is not, however, about finding “another Mandela” in many African states including my tiny Sierra Leone with its huge mineral deposits that continue to benefit the selected few and neocolonial corporate rogues at the expense of the suffering majority. Irrespective of our country’s small population, our political figureheads are still struggling to combine sound governance and the legitimate exercise of power. This is not the answer where true patriotism is practiced, nor is it Mandela’s legacy.

From my always sound discussions with the former UN Secretary General whom I last spoke with as he was preparing for the Climate Change Summit in Paris before his demise; what Mandela taught all of us is that it is for individual African men and women – empowered and educated citizens of their countries and their continent – to take responsibility for their societies and establish accountable institutions that serve all the people and not just the elites, be they economic or political. And that is why it is so exciting to witness the development of robust journalism and civil society organisations across Sierra Leone and the African continent, determined to hold leaders and governments to account.

Almost 10 years ago today, from a book I am privileged to get from the former UN Secretary General, Mandela said South Africa had come as far as it had on the path to peace and democracy only because the world had set his country. This is a moral example that we had dared to follow after late President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah set the stage during his presidency and Sierra Leone was on the verge of genuine economic transformation.

As we mourn his passing and honour his memory, the task for youth, leaders and citizens alike is to dare to follow his example – in every corner of Sierra Leone and Africa and across the world.

Rest In Peace Madiba!

It’s Time To Reform Sierra Leone Agricultural System

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It's Time To Reform Sierra Leone Agricultural System
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By Mahmud Tim Kargbo

For many decades, Sierra Leone’s agriculture has been a symbol of the country’s poverty. In fact, though agriculture is one of the best ways to trigger social and economic development across the country, our authorities continue to play tricks with a key sector of our economy. So far, we continue to see millions of United States dollars projects, but nothing to concretely write home about.

Agriculture is part of a vast food system that touches almost every aspect of life in society. The Sustainable Development Goals recently ratified by the United Nations paint a picture of the future the world is committed to building. Agriculture plays a part in reaching almost every single one of the 17 goals.

A resilient Sierra Leone food system will fight poverty, disease, hunger, youth unemployment, and malnutrition by providing a better living to the unemployed, poorest, and sickest people in the country. It will employ the rapidly growing youth population by creating a new class of businesses. It will shore up our deplorable national economy and restore a reasonable balance of trade by allowing Sierra Leone to feed not just itself, but also countries on other continents.

How does such a system get built? It is not easy, since food systems tend to evolve over time, and money dedicated to this sector of our economy over the years isn’t wisely spent. But today’s Sierra Leone politicians have a powerful tool to deploy—digital technology—to make the process easier.

This list of five key principles conveys the main idea: Once you conceive of the goal of agriculture as more than simply producing enough calories to keep our population alive, our political stakeholders can harness its power to change our society.

First, the smallholder farmer is at the centre: More than 80 percent of the agricultural production in the country comes from smallholders. But these farmers are not nearly as productive as they should be, and they cannot sell their surpluses because the infrastructure to link them to markets and storage facilities is virtually non-existent.

Second, women are empowered: Women provide the majority of labour in Sierra Leone farms, but for a variety of reasons, they are less productive, on average, than men. Women in Sierra Leone invest as much as 10 times more of what they earn in priorities like education, nutrition, and health, so when they have money and the power to decide how to spend it, everybody benefits.

Third, when it comes to food, quality matters as much as quantity: We are only now beginning to understand the impact of malnutrition on poor countries including Sierra Leone. It’s an underlying cause of almost half of all the deaths of children under 5. It also leaves hundreds of Sierra Leone children cognitively or physically impaired for the rest of their lives.

Fourth, there is a thriving rural economy around the smallholder farmers: Farmers need financial services, seeds, and fertiliser before they begin planting; after the harvest, they need storage, transport, processing, and marketing. Every single step in this process should be a business opportunity for an entrepreneur.

Fifth, the environment is preserved for future generations: It is easy to boost yields with short-sighted investments and policies that deplete natural resources. Especially as the effects of climate change begin to be felt, it is critical that Sierra Leone encourage sustainable agriculture.

Digital technology can help Sierra Leone farmers achieve all these goals, by clearing away one of the biggest obstacles to progress: the isolation of the smallholder farmer.  To take just one example, Ethiopia’s Agricultural Transformation Authority (ATA) launched an agricultural hotline last year where I happened to be invited by the East African Youth Leader; a very good friend of mine. The system has already logged more than 4 million calls and sends text messages to 500,000 users with up-to-date agronomic information, I am told. ATA is also creating EthioSIS, a digital soil map analysing the country’s soils down to a 10 x10 km resolution. Eventually, these two systems are merging, pushing cutting-edge, highly tailored information to millions of farmers in that country.

The digital infrastructure for interacting with smallholders is being put in place as I write. What happens in the next 10 years will determine what is possible through digital agriculture over the next 50 years. Getting it right means making sure that all farmers, especially the poorest and most remote, are included from the start.

It used to be that in most African countries including Sierra Leone, even if we had big ideas about how to support smallholder farmers, we didn’t know how to reach them. Now, we can do this with the spread of mobile companies in Sierra Leone.

So, it is time to change the way we think. Farmers are not the cause of Sierra Leone’s poverty; our political stakeholders are the cause, and farmers are a potential solution to our politically man-made poverty if the atmosphere is made conducive for them to thrive successfully. They are key to creating the future envisioned by the SDGs.

Eventually, the work of building a Sierra Leone food system will be for experts: seed and soil scientists, computer programmers, policymakers in government Ministries, and entrepreneurs with new business ideas. But right now, not enough people understand how much a new food system can do for the country. What we need most is a generation of Sierra Leone leaders committed to advocating for this vision of Sierra Leone transformed.

EMPATHY OF PURPOSE NEEDED MORE THAN EVER FROM SIERRA LEONE POLITICIANS

Map of Sierra Leone
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EMPATHY OF PURPOSE NEEDED MORE THAN EVER FROM SIERRA LEONE POLITICIANS
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By Mahmud Tim Kargbo

What will you do next to help repair Sierra Leone?

For many, this has been gut-wrenching weeks. People are struggling with how to make sense of the current price hike on essential commodities in Sierra Leone. The main opposition party, the All People’s Congress is grappling in the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone with its internal challenges to take their political party to their national delegates conference in preparation for the 2023 general elections (though this is a huge sea change), but also for us in Sierra Leone escalating, senseless violence hearsay across the country, threats to voices of reasoning, the spread of fake news, massive sycophancy and bootlicking to further deepening divide between the political class and the ordinary people, and a creeping sense of dread as events begin to seem out of our control.

There’s a lot for people to digest. Sierra Leone can seem a cruel and barbaric place. Political – love of humankind — can seem elusive.

Yet it’s right here. In each of us.

As my visiting friend Tara Sophia Mohr wrote:

“… remember that every cell in your body knows how to love and weave good deeds, to meet injustice with acts of service and everyday rebellion, right there with the people in front of you. Let’s stay connected to love and to each other.”

This is a time when we truly must stay connected. Through making a choice — to pay attention to, rather than ignore. Through listening. Through empathy. Through putting ourselves in each other’s shoes.

This week, celebrate tolerance.
All this week, we celebrate the United Nations International Day for Tolerance. While it may seem we haven’t much to celebrate right now, the reverse is true.

We have each other. Because for every tribal bigot, politically supported neocolonial oppression, or deceptive politician who rises up, 100 more will rise up against them. And soon it will be 1,000 more. Then 10,000 more.

Humanity has the will to survive — through caring.

Not just the will to survive, but in fact, the need. For throughout history the civilizations that have survived have been those which banded together to care for their brethren.

Sure, we’ve all heard about “survival of the fittest, especially in present-day Sierra Leone.” But did you know that was not Darwin’s idea? He never meant to imply that civilization would survive by the strongest killing the weakest. Though the concept is attributed to him, it really comes from the philosopher Herbert Spencer. And it is widely misunderstood.

In one-to-one battles, the fittest may survive. But in the end, it’s not about individuals. It’s about groups, tribes, communities, regions, and countries. Darwin actually posited “survival of the most empathic.”

Empathy, per Anita Nowak of McGill University, is the only human emotion that expresses equality between humans. She notes:

Society needs to undergo an empathic revolution if we are to survive as a species… we must engage with empathy; not as spectators, but as fully involved participants. [The state of society today in Sierra Leone makes] the moral imperative to act explicit. We are facing a set of social and environmental crises that are unprecedented… we are beset by wicked man-made problems in Sierra Leone.

The nonprofit sector is also called “civil society.” And they have an important role to play in times like these. We must remind each other what survival really is about and how to avoid violence to save further suffering and loss of human lives and property.

Civilizations that survive are the most empathic, cooperative, and compassionate.

This week, let’s commit to cooperation and standing together.
Even in the wild, it’s not every animal for itself. Cooperation turns out to be the most successful survival strategy. Complex cells evolved from cooperating simple cells. Multicellular organisms are made up of cooperating complex cells. Superorganisms such as bee or ant colonies consist of cooperating individuals, in a condition biologists call eusociality.

In Sierra Leone, we know the Individual selection of the majority in our social positions of trust tends to favour selfish behaviour. In the eusocial group, however, members perform altruistic acts, sometimes against their own personal interests, to benefit their group.

When cooperation breaks down, the results can be disastrous.

For example, when cells in our bodies turn rogue the result is cancer. A single cell can break free from the pack and create something monstrous. In my neighbour’s teenage daughter’s lingo, letting the demons loose makes the world totally cray-cray.

This is what makes the civil sector so important.

Nonprofit staff, volunteers, and donors make a critically important choice. To act altruistically. To stand united against cruelty, intolerance, and injustice.

As individuals, families, and communities we choose to act with compassion and honour. To stand up to horror, hatred, inhumanity, and senseless destruction.

This message from the U.N. Secretary-General is timely:

“Let us not be provoked or play into the hands of those who thrive on hatred and instill fear in our societies. Today’s global challenges should compel us to reject the failed mindset of “us” versus “them”. Let us see the world and all its possibilities through the prism of “we the people”.

There can be no time like the present to begin to say “No More.”

This week, politicians need to truly commit to taking a step towards repairing Sierra Leone and prevent the people from further suffering before the numbers of untimely death dominate our statistical data in Sierra Leone.

POLITICIANS AND LEADERSHIP IN SIERRA LEONE: The Strength Within

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POLITICIANS AND LEADERSHIP IN SIERRA LEONE: The Strength Within
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POLITICIANS AND LEADERSHIP IN SIERRA LEONE: The Strength Within

By Mahmud Tim Kargbo

Current Sierra Leone political change agents assume way too easily, too lazily, that our ideological precepts are, if not always practised, nationally admired. In the trite truism, we declare all nationals are the same everywhere. It’s comforting, and brashly erroneous, to believe Sierra Leone values about individual freedom, inalienable human rights, capitalism, privacy marketplace solutions, consumer choice, Puritan work ethic, and cultural norms about life and death form a bedrock of national agreement on which to erect a unicorn peace nationally.

For starters, at a human level, it is silly to go on pretending that under the skin we are all brothers. The truth is more likely that under the skin we are all cannibals, assassins, traitors, liars, hypocrites, bootlickers, and poltroons. In truth, all of us are stewing admixture of goodness and badness. That said, if you are a practitioner of intolerance, mean-spiritedness, cruelty, hate, and stupidity, screw you. In my social change heart, I am confessing that I am not magnanimous enough to call you my father, mother, brother, sister, or leader. Instead, I am calling you an oppressor and a destroyer.

I keep having this recurring thing that happens in most of my dreams. At some point, good or bad, I realise I’m dreaming. Once I realise it, I immediately start flying. Either a few feet off the ground or high in the air I am suddenly engaging a superpower inside that was seemingly dormant.

So what does that really mean?

When we look at Sierra Leone’s alleged leaders who are impressive, with seemingly superhuman intelligence and abilities to operate at levels beyond what we think is normal, we elevate them to positions where we think flaws do not exist. While some of these stakeholders operate as if they do not have weaknesses, the smart ones know and embrace what and who they are at their core. The finished product is what receives the glory and attention, good and bad, while one of the most vital portions of what our rulers are and become gets widely overlooked. The perception of success is thought to be achieved through accelerated and title inflation. The reality is this only creates exposure for those who do not belong where they pretend to operate. The most realistic success you will experience can easily be garnered in one of the latest Under Armour Commercials.

The commercial reminded me of one of my favourite characters from an animated show (yes, a cartoon) I watched when I was at college called Dragonball Z. If you haven’t seen it, or aren’t into that kind of stuff – I get it. However, if you saw it, you would realise that this stuff is more than just animated fighting. Oddly enough, when I started watching it, I loved Vegeta for some reason. He was initially a villain but eventually became friends with the main character (Goku). Both of them loved fighting, growing stronger, and training. Whenever they weren’t fighting, they were training.

Oh…… And they can fly too.

Even with his passion, purpose, and determination, Vegeta would never be as strong as the main character, and often times his rivalry would cloud his judgment as he would seek to be THE greatest ( but never be better than Goku). However, Vegeta became instrumental in several conflicts as an ally that was key to success that benefited the greater good of everyone. Even more so, as you watch the series, you can see the character come to that realisation, more than once.

It’s amazing what comes from the inside of us when the chips are down. It’s sometimes even scary. Would you invest yourself in something when you know that your ultimate sacrifice would either be unknown, forgotten, or used by someone else to support their spotlight? How much would you endure? What has greater value, seeing someone use you to elevate themselves or them pushing you into the coming consequences of something you had nothing to do with? For most right-minded nationals, they both have immediate value. Sierra Leoneans learned more from how a political leader like late President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah who truly cared about them treated them when he was governing our country, versus what current self-centred political rulers say. And once you remove emotions from the equation, guess what rises to the surface? The sum of whom these current self-centred political rulers really are.

What weighs you down? Regret? Disappointment? Unfulfilled desires and expectations? More meaningless dribbles that cloud your mind and fuel displaced emotions that only cause you to make poor decisions when a moment of truth arrives? Great leaders stand calmly when others are panicking. True leaders like late President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah spend less time explaining why and more time being and holding others accountable. While others are looking around for answers, they fly.

Freetown
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