As Sierra Leone prepares to recognise its 63rd anniversary of independence from colonial rule, I continue to wonder why we still celebrate this as an achievement.

Sierra Leone’s journey from independence to democracy has been quite colourful, and we should be proud of the progress that has been made. However, we dare not boast of autonomy, because our leaders have put us in a position where we depend on development partners to fund all major initiatives. This allows them to dictate the direction of our policies and legislation. Eg. The Finance Acts 2023 and 2024 were developed with the IMF debt in mind, and we have been told that the Employment Act 2023 was guided by The World Bank and ILO. Neither of these legislation encourage private sector growth or job creation. Instead, they have put more of a burden on employers.

As we continue to blame our leaders for the hardship we face on a daily basis, I am aware that citizens of Sierra Leone, regardless of whether we work in the private, public or (I)NGO sector, or even live in the country, also have a responsibility to Sierra Leone. It is our job to ensure that we contribute towards growing Sierra Leone’s economy, which in turn would make it more independent.

Below is a list of 63 ways in which you can contribute towards making Sierra Leone more independent:

  1. Acquire and apply competencies that would make you employable
  2. Act honestly
  3. Advocate for financial policies that attract investment and encourage employment
  4. Advocate for justice, especially for women, and in business and politics
  5. Advocate for lower taxes for SMEs
  6. Be honest with politicians you have a personal relationship with
  7. Be more inclusive and embrace each other’s differences
  8. Build more clinics, hospitals and schools
  9. Buy topup for your electricity meter and pay your water rates
  10. Collect GST, deduct WHT, and pay to NRA
  11. Deduct and pay PAYE and NASSIT contributions
  12. Dispose of your garbage responsibly, not by burning, or throwing in a drain or stream
  13. Do not abuse, misuse or destroy national property
  14. Do not hoard money
  15. Do not inflate prices
  16. Do not steal from your employer
  17. Do not steal from Sierra Leone
  18. Do not take drugs
  19. Do not use Sierra Leone for self-promotion to the detriment of its citizens
  20. Engage citizens more
  21. Engage the private sector
  22. Export your locally made products
  23. Fact-check before sharing news about Sierra Leone
  24. Fairly investigate bribery and corruption cases, and hold people accountable
  25. Have a long-term mindset
  26. Hold your leaders accountable
  27. Host international events
  28. If you are a public official, travel less
  29. Invest in a business
  30. Invest in property
  31. Join a professional/ business membership organisation, or/ and a civil society organisation, and actively participate
  32. Learn a digital skill
  33. Listen to understand
  34. Make financial management decisions that benefit Sierra Leone
  35. Manage customer and employee relationships well
  36. Pay attention to detail
  37. Pay your business license and property tax
  38. Pay your local tax
  39. Pay your income tax
  40. Practice patience
  41. Practice personal hygiene
  42. Prioritise citizens’ needs
  43. Promote Sierra Leone as a holiday destination
  44. Purchase locally made products
  45. Put Sierra Leone before your political party
  46. Put Sierra Leone’s interest before an interest that could benefit you, but hurt Sierra Leone
  47. Read more
  48. Recognise, reward, award and employ public officers based on merit
  49. Refrain from participating in any type of corruption
  50. Report bribery and corruption
  51. Share more good news than bad news
  52. Speak up when the government is wrong, whether you are a supporter or not
  53. Start a business
  54. Stop accepting bribes
  55. Stop inflating prices of government contracts
  56. Stop paying bribes
  57. Support local businesses
  58. Teach someone
  59. Throw your litter in a bin, or take home with you.
  60. Treat all citizens equitably
  61. Visit Sierra Leone
  62. Volunteer in your community
  63. Work diligently

No matter how angry we are with our leaders, let us remember that Sierra Leone needs us and we need each other. Let us work together to develop Sierra Leone.