Author: Chief Dr. Saio S. Marrah.
Former Director General – Central Intelligence and Security Unit
Former Intelligence and Security Adviser to President Ernest Bai Koroma and President Julius Maada Bio
8th January 2019
“The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing” (Albert Einstein).
Sierra Leone is a post-conflict and fragile state riddled with economic hardship and youth unemployment. According to recent studies, youth protuberance is emerging as a major catalyst for internal violence in the developing world and obviously Sierra Leone isn’t an exception. In most cases however, post-election violence is a quick trigger for intra-state conflict as recently demonstrated in Kenya, Zimbabwe and Ivory Coast. Thankfully to God Almighty, the 2018 General Elections in our beloved country went on smoothly without any major issues.
Having said that, since General Julius Maada Bio was elected President of the Republic of Sierra Leone (some nine months ago), certain individuals especially in the Diaspora have been consistently and persistently calling for war in Sierra Leone. These individuals have deployed inflammatory rhetoric, hate speech and antagonistic tribal incitement aimed at provoking tribal war in Sierra Leone.
Such craving and invocation for war in our beloved country by certain people who call themselves Sierra Leoneans is a key factor why I have decided to raise my voice at this crucial moment of our history. As Albert Einstein argued, “the world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing” until carnage is unleashed on mankind. Leonardo Da Vinci also argued in similar capillary by maintaining that, “he who does not oppose evil, commands it to be done”. In a rather dramatic rhetoric, Martin Luther King Jr. eloquently stated that “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” – whiles Plato criminalized “your silence as consent”.
That said I have the moral impetus and authority not to remain silent in the face of such inconceivable and senseless social media frenzy by people who know nothing about war. As a war Veteran and Expert in War, Conflict and Peace Studies, it is my moral responsibility as a peaceful and patriotic citizen to enlighten my people especially the youths; for them not to heed to anybody living in the white man’s land whiles inciting them to stand up against the democratically elected government of Sierra Leone.
These people spewing dangerous, seditious and inflammatory statement are definitely not patriotic by any stretch of imagination; because such act (spewing dangerous, seditious and inflammatory statement) precipitated the Rwandan Genocide which led to the massacre of about a million people in just three months. In light of this therefore, it is very apparent that war can start with mere words. In recent years as was of ancient, it is indicative that it is the older men who declare war but it is the youths that fight and die. My advice to you warmongers is sublime; when your anger arise for any reasons whatsoever, think of the consequences of war. Haven’t you Bellicists learnt enough lessons from our decade long war that affected every facet of our lives?
For the youths and simpleminded, please permit me to proffer this touching meaning of war as espoused by Niko Billic – according to him “war is when the youths and stupid are tricked by the old and bitter into killing each other” for materialistic and selfish reasons. Fellow Sierra Leoneans, why appease the thirst and hunger of warmongers when at the end – as Plato stated “only the dead can see the end of the war”.
Bellicists and warmongers, why hoist the threshold of revulsion of peace loving Sierra Leoneans to the extent of invoking war in the country? Do we deserve to spend the rest of our lives in such state of high alert and anxiety epitomized by insecurity, uncertainty and recklessness? It is therefore no marvel why Confucius posited that “life is really simple but we insist on making it complicated” by creating unnecessary problems for ourselves by heeding to fake news.
Fake news are not only malevolence in themselves but they contaminate the soul with ill-will hence information received can be easily acted upon consequently leading to the breakdown of law and order. As Aristotle pointed out “that man at his best is the noblest of all animals, separated from law and justice he is the worst” and this was demonstrated during our civil conflict. So please stop polluting the hearts and minds of Sierra Leoneans especially the youths who are our future leaders.
To this end, I call on all Sierra Leoneans to sustain the peace; for without peace and security, development and democracy will be eroded. To achieve peace we must exhibit tolerance and positive thinking – as Confucius once said “the more man meditates upon good thoughts, the better will be his world and the world at large”. It can be said therefore that, peace is not the absence of conflict – rather “it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means” (Ronald Reagan).
Inflammatory rhetoric and socially constructed realities are not only dangerous but overly pricey for the security sector. One thing I want to make crystal clear is that, for any seeming security threat in the state, the appropriate security agency (as expected) will respond proactively. For each and every response, it costs the security sector huge amount of money. The associated problem with this is that, all such responses by the intelligence, police or military as the case maybe, are not budgeted for as they are unforeseen circumstances.
So the tight budget of the security sector especially the intelligence is not only overstretched but creates the possibility of distraction and susceptibility – hence the intelligence calculus will be more inward looking due to the persistent threats emanating from within. It meant therefore that, other serious trans-national organized crimes such as terrorism, cyber attacks, sea piracy, drug trafficking, human trafficking, money laundry, human organ trade and many more will attract less attention (deprioritization). This is so because the security sector is already overstretched (financially and otherwise) with socially constructed internal threats which the security sector must respond to as they cannot afford to underestimate any threat.
Sierra Leone was in 2018 rated the most peaceful country in West Africa, 3rd in Africa and 33rd worldwide. The profound question is, are we not (as a nation) proud with such enviable results? It is inconceivable if not absolutely unthinkable and unimaginable for any right-minded Sierra Leonean to crave for war cognizant of what we went through during our eleven years civil conflict.
The people of Sierra Leone want peace but please be reminded that “a bad peace is worse than war” (Tacitus). It is therefore suggestive if not wholly imperative that, Sierra Leoneans must strive for genuine peace. We do not want illusionary peace or artificial harmony. We hate war! We despise war! Oh yes! We do, because in war, there might be a vanquish but never a winner……because if you win the war you will definitely lose the peace. So why war? “War in Sierra Leone” – Never again!!!