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Sierra Leone

The challenge ahead of the Church

by Chris Samai (Words 674)

Sierra Leone has been drained of every iota of human dignity. This is not an extremist position, it is the naked reality. The country is submerged in serious political crisis, it is on a keg of gun powder which requires just a little strike of match for full blown conflagration. The 7-year armed conflict has rendered millions of people as refugees and internally displaced people. It has entrenched hunger, ignorance and disease. Sierra Leone is dotted by puppet masters who have made names for themselves in human rights violation.

There is an urgent need to restore human dignity in Sierra Leone. The economy has been brought to its knees and reduced hundreds of thousands of Sierra Leonean children and women to walking skeletons. Until October 23, this year when the Conakry concord was signed, which signaled a flash of light at the end of the dark tunnel, governance was only restricted, so to speak to the capital city ,of Freetown. The other parts of the country were ungovernable as a result of frequent rebel attacks. Those who have been hardest hit by the war are not the combatants, but armless and harmless civilians notably children and women. There were several instances of children being murdered in pogroms and stomachs of pregnant women slit and unborn babies gorged out of them by rebels.
The country is managed by a group of young soldiers, some teenagers, who hijacked the seat of power on may 25, and put the bulky Tejan Kabbah to flight. Like their rebel compatriots the so-bels are perpetrating heinous crimes. Human rights abuses is a way of life. Extra judicial killings are severally carried out and several journalists including me, were at one time or the other detained illegally, while others have fled the country.

Challenge Basically, the church has a duty to restore human dignity. You might ask how? the bible teaches about forgiveness, and respect for the next person, about the ten commandments, which are essentially the concomitants of human dignity.

The world has grown in social political sophistication and the church can no longer consign itself to Sunday and Sunday service. We must remember that Christians constitute a huge percentage of the Worlds population. These Christians because they do not live in isolation are also affected by any economic or political change that takes place.. for better for worse. It is not unchristian, in may view, to keep up against oppression, injustice and man's inhumanity to man. This is not a case for the church to get partisan, it is a case for the Church to point out, from time to time, that which is the way forward, the path to righteousness, the road to posterity and the manner in which the world can be made a better place.

The church can play a meaningful role even in conflict resolution as happened in 1994, when RUF rebels captured four Italian Catholic nuns obviously as a bargaining chip. The Christian Council of Sierra Leone waded into the matter.
It was not too difficult for these men of God who took this risk to get in to the enemy territory of the RUF leadership to negotiate the release of these nuns.

The role ,of church and Christian organisations in Sierra Leone in relief supplies and poverty alleviation have saved the lives of thousands of Sierra Leoneans in and outside the country, by way of feeding, clothing, sheltering and healing both refugees and internally displaced persons.

My contention is that the church must now monitor happenings in the society because it is part of it, and speak out strongly against acts that demote human dignity. The church has a spiritual obligation in this respect, not just a moral right. Of what use will the church be if it were to remain silent even when the society is about to suffer extinction. If we then agree that a morally debased society is doomed, Christian communicators have no alternative but to face the challenge of turning this morally debased society in to morally upright one.


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