In Layila, Kakatua wan bi Lida*, the author, who has served for several years as a Councillor in Local government in Bedfordshire, and was the Secretary of the National Association of Sierra Leone Organisations (NASLO) in London during the War years, rehearses some invaluable thoughts on the way forward for post war Sierra Leone.
Forde’s script highlights the impediments to good governance, and through the vision of the main character, Aminata, he eloquently explores the panacea to Sierra Leone’s deplorable leadership problem, and consequent enduring underdevelopment that ensues. The following excerpt provides a snapshot of Aminata’s perception of the core of Sierra Leone’s endemic development inertia, and her vision of how the problem should be tackled:
(After a brief spell of silence, Aminata disappears and swiftly returns with a sugar paper showing what looks like a structural representation of her ideal government, public service departments and different arms of the law. Now and again, she refers to the illustration on the sugar paper as she addresses her audience).
Maybe, you should join my Government! (Indicating) The Civil Service will have to be developed to match the Military Services that have been put in place to provide national security. Proper records, training and pay with prospects for promotion will be my aim for the Civil Service, and all government employees. That will be one way of tackling corruption.
If proper systems are in place to provide an audit trail and accountability, so that when a Policeman stops and fines you for speeding, you get a proper printed form, in duplicate, and a serially numbered receipt, broke balance nor go still possible.(She resumes her seat)
Winston’s play is unique for two reasons: firstly, it is mainly written in Krio, one of Sierra Leone’s national languages. The author was assisted by Sheikh Umar Kamara who ensured the correctness of the Krio orthography adopted in the text. He has also retained the established English spellings of familiar words so as to minimise the impact of the challenges imposed by the standard orthography for non-linguists. Secondly, the play engages a thematic focus on practical ways of bringing about meaningful political change, and development in post-war Sierra Leone.
* Translated literally this means – “Good Lord! Bossy-boots wants to become the next Leader!