• Mina Bilkis

We Are Waiting (Visual Poem)

Back in April 2018, I wrote and published a poem entitled We Are Waiting on Independence Day April 27.


Sierra Leone gained Independence from the British on April 27 1961 and was declared the Republic of Sierra Leone on April 19 1971.

When I wrote this poem in 2018, Sierra Leone at the time commemorated its 57th year of Independence from colonial rule. It was with sadness penning these words down because at 57 we were not where we should be in most sectors: social, cultural, education, health etc and our economy was still recovering from the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) epidemic that claimed over 3500 lives in Sierra Leone and approximately 12,000 total including Guinea and Liberia who are our neighbors and fellow members of the Mano River Union.


I would look at other countries who were liberated from European rule and see how far they have come and sometimes it deeply upsets and perplexes me as to why we cannot do the same. Why can't we emulate the good from other African countries and implement it in our context? Why? Why? WHY?


A few years ago, I stopped asking why. And I started to do, and be a part of the change in Sierra Leone through my non-profit work at Girl Up Vine Club Sierra Leone and my social business Ori from Sierra Leone and with this I have found a little peace in creating impactful outcomes in my community and training the next generation of leaders in Sierra Leone.


Today, before starting my day, planning out my week and wondering why Mondays exist if not to torment working professionals and students - it occurred to me that today marks one week till our Independence Day. The somber feeling of reflection to commemorate rather than to celebrate this day came to me. Because a few years ago as well, I also stopped partaking in Independence Day celebrations and spent it reading more about the pre and post colonial history of Sierra Leone and writing when I can. For me it's a day of reflection and more so now as we find ourselves in the midst of a pandemic now - the new Coronavirus also known as #COVID19.


After I had published the poem on my social media platforms, I was contacted by a United Kingdom (UK) based Sierra Leonean film maker by the name of Abu B. Yillah, also known as popularly as @black_supahero. Abu is a co-curator to the UK Sierra Leonean based organization The Young Sierra Leonean or simply Young Salone whose motto is: Singular, because we are one, aims to increase the visibility of Sierra Leone and Sierra Leoneans both at home and in the Diaspora, and change the narrative through the arts. At the time, Abu was coming to Sierra Leone in a few weeks to do some filming and visit family and he asked if I would read my poem. The rich imagery from the visual poem showcases Sierra Leone in a beautiful form, and I hope it resonates with you the way it did with me.


Below is the visual poem in entitled We Are Waiting accompanied by the written poem. This video was filmed by Abu Yillah and produced by The Young Sierra Leonean.



We Are Waiting (2018)


Mama

Oh sweet mother

We call our country Mama Salone

And those who govern us Papa Government

It is sad, Mama

That your husband doesn’t treat you the way you deserve to be treated

It is even sadder, Mama

That your children are not in the position to defend you

We are broken, Mama

We are voiceless, Mama

We are waiting, Mama

Papa has killed in your name for “development”

Papa has stolen in your name for “progress”

And Papa has violated you in the name of “tradition”

We are waiting for a signal, Mama

We are waiting

We are waiting for the day that we can live up to “Sweet Salone 2020”

We are waiting for college graduates to be employed upon graduation

We are waiting for nepotism to retire and merit to be reinstated

We the youths are waiting

But we are tired, Mama

We have waited for 11 painful years

We have cried for 3000 bodies in 2015

We buried 1000 bodies in 2017

We have no parliament in 2018

We the youths have been waiting

And for what?

They say we are the future leaders of tomorrow

But when tomorrow is uncertain

And today is a gift

We have to act

We are only expected to live for 51 years

So there is no tomorrow

We are the leaders of today

We are

We are

Mama

Today as you turn 57

The time has come to see another day

To tell another story

To dance to a different tune

In 2018

We are no longer waiting

Mama

We are ready

🇸🇱

1961 - 2018

ergo sum cogito

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