Sierra Leonean Diasporas

By Maurice Kamara, Toronto, Canada. April 5, 2024

There is a book I once read that spoke about human frailties told through an interesting tale of mental lethargy. We seek refuge from the harshness of the known through fantasies about the unknown frontier. 

Something quite similar yet the opposite happens for the thousands of Sierra Leoneans who live overseas. They seek refuge from the harshness and uncertain future of the known (our native land) through certainty and fantasies about the unknown frontier (western world). 

Remember, overseas Sierra Leoneans are the ones who left their homeland, family members, friends, in search of success through a much better utilisation of their talents and hard work. It was the other side’s (western world) fantasies of wealth and success which compelled them to make the journey. Many of the Sierra Leone immigrants in foreign lands found the success they had heard and read about western countries. 

Once successful, these overseas Sierra Leoneans never abandoned the dream of going back to Sierra Leone one day and living among their own people, families, and friends. Because they know there is much satisfaction and peace of mind your native land can give more than living in a foreign land. However, the ability to return home has somehow become a fantasy with time. And it is that fantasy, ladies, and gentlemen, that has been snatched from them. The other side (our native land) we are daydreaming about to return one day is in political mess and mismanagement. 

For the overseas Sierra Leoneans, the other side (our native land), is no more beautiful and no more peaceful and ruled by elites who are clueless and inept of ideas about how to govern. For the overseas Sierra Leoneans, it is NOT the airplanes that have been burnt for some greater good, so they do not return home but rather the fire is blazing where they came from (our native land). So, while the airplanes are still available, it is the charred Sierra Leone most diasporas do not want to return to. 

For a while, it had seemed that overseas Sierra Leoneans were able to bring positive changes in Sierra Leone. To go home with their investment, with their ideas they have been exposed to in their overseas lifestyles, with their energy to transform the lives of the people in our native land and by bringing a change to the institutions of the country. But there is an obstacle, the obstacle of bad governance and corruption forming a system whose reach is invisible, but its actions are not. 

Most Sierra Leoneans who spent their lives overseas, are always ready to fiercely defend the dignity and respect of our country against the draconian tendencies of the leaders in our native land that are so egregiously wrong. Remember, most overseas Sierra Leoneans were the ones that the system did not give any benefit to. They could not even land decent jobs in our country. That is why they left. Yet, they still love and fight for our country in ways you politicians in our country would never even know. And today, somehow, you the politicians, the pathetic rulers in our country and through poor system of governance barely inspire Sierra Leoneans overseas to return home. Most overseas Sierra Leonean fled our native land for better life, but they also become the people who eventually want to return and save our country and retire in our country. But I am afraid most overseas Sierra Leoneans do not even crave the appetite anymore to return home. 

Lack of good governance, corruption, poor infrastructure, lawlessness, and political vigilantism are all factors responsible. In the great movie Interstellar, there is a conversation between a scientist and an astronaut where the scientist says that due to the irreversible damage caused by climate change, humanity’s mission is no more to save the earth but rather to leave it and find another home somewhere in another galaxy. It is akin to our country. About hundreds of Sierra Leoneans leave Sierra Leone every year and they may not have the appetite to return home again due to the irreversible damage politicians have done to our country. 

There are two things to understand about those fleeing batch: One, it is no more the Sierra Leoneans who are not well educated. Two, they are not leaving with a desire to return someday. Sierra Leone is running out of Sierra Leoneans who feel connected in their own country