By Juliet Rogers,
Most Sierra Leonean youths in this contemporary age are extremely miserable, many need guidance and life tutorials in order to punch the positive touchlines for them to be able to live productive lives under less and, or far less stressful conditions that they are currently enmeshed.
Notwithstanding this, few among them get so lucky in the course of such an unfortunate state of affairs through diligence and hard work.
The root cause of this despicable situation whirls around so many problems, and one of the main problems is the overall mental poverty of the people of the country.
A poor country does not produce enough people with surplus income and time to devote themselves and spare time to help mentor and nurture youths into a productive adulthood. In fact, on daily basis, so much time and efforts are being spent entirely to curb the excesses of survival. This in entirety has accumulated the vogue of less guidance or mentor ship from adults to the youngsters, because few adults have even the spare time, let alone the effort to guide and direct our youths into responsible and law-abiding citizens.
The Ancient Societies invented by our ancestors to guide youths into productive adulthood have become so obsolete, they have gone and fallen asleep along the way as our obsolete agrarian society. They are now mostly out to make money out of out-of-date traditions. Now-a-days, adults have too many survival problems and thus very little time to help youths, hence, they go astray.
Many parents are uneducated, full of backward superstitions and endemic poverty. Hence, they can’t take care of their children especially in families where the men leave all the parental responsibility to penniless mothers. Hence, children go astray.
History and recent political files have qualified us as experienced folks on how easy it was for Charles Taylor of Liberia and Foday Sankoh of the RUF to lead unsupervised youths astray to severely wreck our country and hurt innocent citizens. Today’s politicians frequently promise to help our youths with skills and employment as they try to seek political power. But once they gain power, they put themselves first and our youths least or last as priorities.
The fact remains that without the proper mentoring of youths, Sierra Leone is doomed to continue as one of the most tattered and betrayed nations on Earth. The young girls in our midst urgently need mentoring, nurturing and protection from predatory males in abundant supply, not only in the streets but also in schools, universities zones, in places of employment etc. Supervision of children is so poor today that even penniless children are mothers of their own fatherless children. Mentoring children on their sexuality would prevent, or at least contain, this extremely sad situation of penniless mothers.
The BBC recently reported that 300,000 sex workers are operating in Freetown alone. The proper mentoring of our provincial girls rushing to Freetown before they get damaged would go a long way to reduce the sex worker population. Sierra Leone sex workers are also operating in several overseas locations in the Middle East and Europe. They need to be mentored on what awaits them in those overseas communities. And the latest time to start such mentoring is upon their application for their passports.
Boys, too, need effective mentoring just like our Girls, even though Sierra Leone is a macho society. Our youths need multiple levels of mentorship in order to help them sieve most of their excesses. This will help our country become a society of improved standards, thus, making it lively for all. Youths need mentorship in good behaviour, interpersonal social skills, the importance of education, skills to earn a living, skills to work with females without sexually harassing them, skills to deflect evil elements tempting them into crime and other forms of wrongdoing etc.
As a matter of fact, only qualified and experienced mentors will do the most effective mentoring. In Maya Angelou’s view, “In order to be a mentor, and an effective one, one must care. You must care. You don’t have to know how many square miles are in Idaho, you don’t need to know what is the chemical makeup of chemistry, or of blood or water. Know what you know and care about the person, care about what you know and care about the person you’re sharing with.”
In the meantime, reflect on these words:
“Mentoring is an archetypal activity that has timeless elements which can connect us to the universal ground where nature renews itself and culture becomes reimagined. Youth and elder meet where the pressure of the future meets the presence of the past.” -Michael Meade
The young people of Sierra Leone badly need the attention and assistance of public officials who have proven to be outstanding patriots and other leading personalities to help them become productive citizens in a most difficult and challenging society. As Ernest Agyemang Yeboah’s points out, “It is a solemn duty to change lives positively. It is a noble honor to inspire and be there for others. It is an irresistible necessity to have empathy; to understand the situations and the reasons for the actions of others. Real mentoring is less of neither the candid smile nor the amicable friendship that exists between the mentor and the mentee and much more of the impacts. The indelible great footprints the mentor lives on the mind of the mentee in a life changing way. How the mentor changes the mentee from ordinariness to extra-ordinariness; the seed of purposefulness that is planted and nurtured for great fruits; the prayer from afar from the mentor to the mentee; and the great inspirations the mentee takes from the mentor to dare unrelentingly to face the storms regardless of how arduous the errand may be with or without the presence of the mentor.”
(Proverbs 11:14 ESV )
 Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.
Without wise mentorship, leadership or followership, the people are bound to fall into trouble. On the other hand, there is safety in having the combined judgment of many good counsellors or mentors.
Also, a good leader or a humble follower needs and uses wise advisers. One person’s perspective and understanding is severely limited; he or she may not have all the facts or may be blinded by bias, emotions, or wrong impressions. To be a wise leader or follower at home, at church, or at work, seek the counsel of others and be open to their advice. Then, after considering all the facts, make your decision (see Proverbs Chapter 29)
King Solomon, one of the most influential kings in the entire Bible, ruled all of Israel in an outstanding way from 977 to 937 BC (12). In Proverbs, he clearly outlined the objectives of generative mentorship as follows:
“To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth.”
The question of how to mentor our youths productively cannot be easily underscored. Someone may ask: How can the youths be mentored productively? What mechanisms should we put in place in order to enhance the mentorship productivity of our youths?
To start with, the youths should be spoken to; assigned chores and given problems to solve as well as opportunities to earn income. The place to do these are:
(i) in schools and colleges, (ii) during long vacation programs. (Iii) on TV and Radio. (Iv) at Atayah base (s) and other Clubs. (v) Community Centers. (iv) in religious organizations etc.
The mentoring ought
to be done by well trained and experienced experts. Remember, many youths have no substantial home training as in the olden days. Teaching youths via words, and examples to become upright, honest, healthy, enlightened and productive community-oriented citizens, free of tribal, regional and gender animus and dirty tricks in their daily lives.
We should take the time to patiently examine our local languages and societies for words of wisdom coined into easily remembered phrases for the purpose of educating the youths into good conduct and smart decision-making.
I know that the Mende and Krio languages have such phrases in abundance. We should search out such phrases that teach badly needed attitudes and skills that could be effectively used in mentoring to teach and equip youths with skills for good citizenship and improved living standards.
Here is a Mende proverb (in Krio) that teaches smart thinking to overcome and profit from defeating evil adversities in one’s life:
“Nah snake wey bet Mendeman go turn to soup for Mendeman”. Here is also a Krio proverb to patiently take the high road instead of taking the low road of dubious shortcuts and dirty tricks to get that which you want: “Long road nor kill nobody”.
Mentoring via proverbs would make positive mentoring, teaching and learning easier to use in upgrading the mental attitudes of our youths. Large scale mentoring via national TV/radio and mass communications would be the fastest means to reach the largest numbers of targets.
We must bear in mind that some youths are already street smart but lack even minimal integrity. And the lack of integrity by educated professionals in government decision-making, in public affairs and by large numbers of experts is at the heart of Sierra Leone’s degradation and suffering. Thus, mentoring successfully on the huge value of integrity in all our dealings in our daily lives is a prerequisite to construct a peaceful, prosperous, just and modern Sierra Leone.
We want our people to always act with moral courage rather than opportunistic mindsets. Here are just a few of the mentoring rules I learned growing up in Bo Town City: “Honesty is the best policy.” “Cleanliness is Next to Godliness.” “One good turn deserves another.” “Do unto others as you would want others do unto you.” “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.” “A stitch in time saves nine.” “The truth shall set you free.” “Honor thy Mother and thy Father.” etc!
In other communities and in many book, I learned these mentoring shorthand:
“Take care of the dime and the dollar will take care of itself”. (A dime is a ten cents coin).
“Only if you trust others can you get screwed”. (i.e. trust no one).
“The victim of a scam is always in the same frame of mind as the perpetrator. He wants something for nothing”.
“A penny saved is earned.”
“Waste not, want not.” (from United States of America Missionaries in Sierra Leone)
“Lose lips sink ships.” (i.e. keep your mouth shut.)
“The wheel that squeals gets the grease.” (i.e. speak out. Complain if you are unfairly disadvantaged).
On the whole, get yourself a good mentor, and get on the mentoring journey! Do this today, and see what becomes your tomorrow! It’s one of the greatest decisions you will have to take in your life.
As Denzel Washington has written:
“Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living—if you do it well I’m sure there was someone cheering you on or showing the way – a mentor.” In addendum, Rasheed Ogunlaru, a leading life coach, motivational speaker corporate coach coined an assertion which strongly supports the above facts. He wrote, “Every great athlete, artist and aspiring being has a great team to help them flourish and succeed – personally and professionally. Even the so-called ‘solo star’ has a strong supporting cast helping them shine, thrive and take flight.”
The author is a Societal Engineer, Life&Emotional Intelligence Coach.