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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

‘Sierra Leone is a happy nation’ says the World Happiness Report

HomeAYV News'Sierra Leone is a happy nation' says the World Happiness Report

‘Sierra Leone is a happy nation’ says the World Happiness Report

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The infamous rebel war was devoid of any religious or tribal motive. The Ebola outbreak, which claimed over 11,000 lives in the sub region of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, had its Patient Zero in Guinea in December 2014. It then took its rage to Liberia and finally to Sierra Leone in March 2015. Though we were the victims, our nation however received the least international aid and the worst international publicity. Sad indeed! Is the fault in our stars or because of a laisser-faire attitude? Our nation’s survival and development, while directed and determined by our President and Government, is largely influenced and manipulated by the World Bank and the IMF. Yes, they use the soft power. You don’t believe it? Then you may wish to have a discussion with frustrated ministries and some parastatals.

We are a resilient nation with a young history of less than 300 years. We have survived a brutal war, the Ebola, poor roads, bad governance, victimization, appalling poor health, coups, injustice, poverty and you name the rest. We have, however, refused to surrender to man-created hazards. Our population has increased to seven million. We console ourselves with nostalgia that we had the first university in Africa, south of the Sahara and we are hopeful that if we had done it before, we can do it again, at least by providing the best education in West Africa. Yes, we should be determined to achieve thus. Further, we have also held three democratic elections since the end of the war in 2001. Yes, we have no journalists in our prisons and we don’t execute (euphemism for state sanctioned killing) our citizens, innocent or guilty. There is a more civilized way to reform your citizens through correctional centres. Some sociologists maintain that the society creates the crime; the perceived criminal only commits it. In the 70s, it was a headline crime to possess marijuana, now that crime is history in most US states.

So let’s celebrate that we have been classified as the 106th happiest nation out of 155 nations surveyed in 2016, according to the World Happiness Report/Gallup World Pool 2016. Norway is the happiest nation in the world while UAE, at No.21, is ranked as the Arab World’s happiest nation. The US is ranked 14th, down from No. 13. Sierra Leoneans, ranked No.106, are happier than 35 African countries, ahead of Guinea (149), Liberia (148), Ghana (131), Ivory Coast (128), Senegal (115), Kenya (112) amongst the 35. Only the North African countries, Somalia (93), Nigeria (95) and South Africa (101) are ahead of Sierra Leone.

What are the parameters that have made us scored so well? According to the Report, 6 principles were taken into consideration. These are: GDP, Healthy life expectancy, Freedom, Generosity, Social support, Absence of corruption. The 10 happiest nations include 7 from Europe. The 10 saddest countries include 8 from Africa with Central African Republic (155) at the bottom.

We should not downplay the ‘Happiness’ factor in our national planning. When Thomas Jefferson drafted the American Declaration of Independence, “the pursuit of happiness” it was an inalienable right in his first article. The UAE last year appointed the world’s first Minister of Happiness. Good relationships (not only money, work or belongings) and community participation are key to happiness. Quality good relationships with family, friends and the community keep us happier, healthier and more protective. Surely you need money (GDP) to be happy but at a certain point, extra money doesn’t buy you extra happiness.

At 56, on April 27, our Independence Anniversary, Sierra Leoneans have a lot to be thankful about. We should be seeing a glass half full rather than half empty. Trumpism has suddenly awakened the dreamers who thought that America was their heaven. The reality is now dawning on them. And there is the rising nationalism in Europe. Russia is no more the friend Africa used to know. The emerging economies prefer trade and partnership rather than aid or donations. Our Government continues to create an environment where people can flourish, can reach their potential and choose to be happy.

Sierra Leoneans should start believing in the power of dreams and the importance of committing to a vision, for great things are achieved when dreams are followed. We should be a forward-thinking people grounded in a wealth of history. Our President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma’s Vision had been our gateway to development, with a complete operational plan, in the forms of Agenda for Change and Agenda for Prosperity. His vision is a race for victory, a race for a comfortable life for his compatriots and a race for happiness. The aim of the World Happiness Report is to provide another tool for governments, businesses and civil societies to help their countries to have a better way to wellbeing. Wouldn’t “Happiness” be an appropriate theme for our 2017 Independence celebration? 

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