Rebranding Sierra Leone: The Nation’s Saving Grace
10th January 2012 · 0 Comments
Rebranding Sierra Leone
In the wake, of the trepidations of a post conflict Sierra Leone, the spread of drugs, embezzlement nightmare, documentary concoctions, the country desperately needs help. Political propaganda and lies hatched and infused by opposition parties and all other forms of corruption have for a long time marred the national identity of Sierra Leone. We cannot fault the concept of re-branding Sierra Leone – a multi-partisan move that can turn the saving grace of a nation.
Few months ago, I had the opportunity of reading one of Fareed Zakari’s books titled “The Post-American World.” The accounts of this book are about what he called “the rise of the rest”. It talks about the sporadic ascension of other international economies besides the United States. He noted that while this growth has been most visible in Asia, China especially, it is not in isolation. Thirty-two other countries in Africa are also coming alive.
Without any reservation, Thomas Friedman’s the “World is Flat” confirms the notion that the world is fast becoming a global village. With this new pattern of development, competition among industries, markets, investments, and now among the international community of which Sierra Leone is a respectable member, has gained momentum. Today, every nation is keen on wooing investors and showing them just why their countries are better than others in investment terms.
As a professional and a patriotic Sierra Leonean, who have done extensive studies on brands and branding, I feel a sense of calling and commitment to respond to the issue at hand. I want to emphasis what some of us already know and what others are finding hard to grasp: Branding cannot be invented or conceived by mere word of mouth, insignias and catchphrases. Instead, the insignias and catchphrases should represent a holistic package of positive attitude for every Sierra Leonean at all times, everywhere.
I will contend that the effort to re-brand Sierra Leone should be viewed as every Sierra Leonean responsibility with a socioeconomic agenda. If we must be taken seriously, we must be serious ourselves. In other words, to change the way other people see us, we must first change the way we see ourselves and; we must change the stories we tell the world about Sierra Leone. It is only when people are positive about their citizenship that they can attempt and flourish together. With this, Sierra Leoneans can carve a national ‘niche area’ in the vast global economy.
The recent but unfortunate pack of distortions manufactured by the opposition flag bearer, Julius Maada Bio during his recent interview with the Guardian newspaper did nothing in hyping the image of Sierra Leone and its people. His spiteful grandiloquence about democracy in Sierra Leone has generated a flurry of patriotic stances from many Sierra Leoneans who regards his actions as a “traitor” to the nation. For many, his ambition and those of his cabals, drives his actions. Worse of all, British citizens were quick in their response to remind Maada Bio that the British are putting their own house in order. Therefore, they need not be bothered with some external pettiness. We must bear in mind that we cannot get others to think positively about us unless we begin to think positively, talk positively, and behave positively about ourselves. Therefore, the issue of re-branding must also involve an increasing consciousness to project the positive stories about ourselves to the world. No matter how bad we think we are, there certainly must be some things that we are doing right, which is worthy of showcasing to the world. Right now, we are not doing enough of this.
One of the fundamental considerations in this election is how to empower the people, by ensuring that their votes count. Presidential election would be held in 2012. The stakes are high. The future of Sierra Leone is on the line. The only way we can ensure that politicians driven by self-aggrandized motives stay away from the citadels of power is when they know that they can only get to power solely at the pleasure of the people, and once they show their true colors, the people have the power not to vote for them.
Alongside the attainment of economic progress, one crucial way to re-brand the country is also to present ourselves to the world, through politics and other spheres of lives that we are willing and able to play by international standards, whether in politics, business, sports, religion, or culture. The onus of re-branding Sierra Leone lies on Sierra Leoneans to represent Sierra Leone well, at least, both within Sierra Leone and outside Sierra Leone. In the words of the country’s national anthem, it states: “High we exalt thee, realm of the free. Great is the love that we have for our country; Learn that we love our Sierra Leone.”
We must learn to love Sierra Leone. If all that we do is to run down leaders and our country; and seek to diminish people who should stand as our icons of hope, our ambassadors of dreams, then we cannot expect others to tell the good story about us or have a positive impression about our country.
By Christian Foday Sesay Jr., Editor-in-Chief, Sierra Leone Daily Mail
By Daily Mail