Every time I am in the company of Sierra Leoneans (especially) women, the subject of marital infidelity/cheating in relationships always seems to creep into our discussion. We can also cite a story of a man we know who has a wife but also keeps one or two or three girlfriends on the side. There is nothing sacred about Sierra Leonean marriages (maybe a select few). What bothers me about infidelity in Sierra Leone and more specifically Freetown (as I don’t know about the conditions in the provinces), is that a man will take his girlfriend among the same company that he will take his wife. His friends and family for the most part will accept his girlfriend without question or censure as they themselves are most likely also involved in the same kind of behavior. In Freetown society, there is no public or private censure of such behavior and it sickens me. Though we may all be aware of the situation, we just accept it because it is the status quo. Many of my own aunties and cousins have been culpable of the same behavior and as a young child I would often lose count of the cars coming to park outside our gates, honking….beeep,beeep, only to be followed by the pitty patty, stomping of grown female feet running to meet their perspective always married lovers. Now as a young adult, I too have been solicited by the honking be they verbal/mechanical at my house, in streets and offices etc. by many older men who are always married. If not for my own personal moral convictions, I too could have fallen into the trap of pitty pattying to my own married gentleman lover.
For anecdotal evidence, I cite this story: a certain former bank governor of the bank of sierra leone and deacon in a church who had been married for years, turned the “men pekin” that had been left in their care into his girlfriend; bought her a house, store and car; while his wife of 30 something odd years only had the comforts of public transportation. It was also under the tenure of this same bank governor that a ridiculous amount of leones happened to disappear from the coffers of the bank (insert this man into the equation below).
As to the answer to why people behave this way in Freetown, there is only one; because they can. There is no kind of negative consequence to this behavior. Even as deacon in a church, one can behave this way and still be allowed to preach at the alter on Sunday. However, to me this adds to the decay of our society. We are all conspirators, because we witness and accept. This kind of behavior shows that morality is low and integrity is MIA. Integrity for me is doing the right thing when no one is looking. Clearly a man who cheats on his wife has no sense of integrity especially when its consistent and rampant as it is back home. With a one night stand you can always get off on the old “she slipped and fell” excuse however a full fledged relationship with multiple women outside of your marriage is something else all together.
The most important quality in a public servant, politician, business person etc. for me is INTEGRITY. I don’t think that a person who cheats on his wife has any sense of integrity. If one can justify such behavior then one can justify anything including corruption, stealing and deceit in the public arena. If one cannot respect a sacred oath they took before their God, family and friends then how could they possibly respect anything else. So, part of rehabilitating political culture in Sierra Leone and weeding out issues like corruption is directly connected to family life and the way we treat our wives. After all the family is the foundation of every society and if a community is sick and ailing as Sierra Leone is, it only means that the family; the backbone is also sick. I think that most people think that they can be sincere and have integrity in one aspect of their life and then ignore it in others. But we have to constantly be thriving for a better version of ourselves, integrity to family and integrity to country and society. If a man can keep and respect the vows of his marriage then that man would be less likely to steal from his country. So this is the equation:
High Infidelity = lack of Integrity/low morality = Corruption = Bad for Politics