It is common among the North, South, and East to marry regardless of political lines. One thing I will say is that marriage is based on principles. So far as I am concerned, I am a Christian and same as my husband. Our marriage is based on principles that we have put together to govern our home. These are love, tolerance, companionship, forgiveness, collaboration, fiscal discipline, and the like.
People have always been free to marry across the traditional divides. It’s been a very long tradition actually, even within my own family circle. We have had a tradition of marrying right across the boundaries between the north and the south. It is very very common along these lines and in Sierra Leone, we have never had these kinds of disturbances because of political differences. We try to put all differences behind us and try to make marriage as common as ever between ethnic divides.
The growing political divide has become acrimonious in the last 15 years and I cannot give any other reason except it being political differences. I think it is the politics that has actually driven people to become who they are not. This concept of hard mentality is affecting either sides of the divide because a few who are really reasonable allow themselves to be mesmerised by the majority.
To be honest I am frightened, disturbed and frustrated by the growing utterances and comments by people. These do not directly represent us in any way. We are peaceful and we love ourselves from the North, East, South and West.
Let me put it this way, if someone will want to call me because I am from the South, it tells my identity. It tells that I am from a particular group or region . That does not define that I am unintelligent, wicked or cannot collaborate with the other side. We have to switch our mentality from focusing on the regional divide and make sure that we work towards the common goal. The common goal has got to do with our common interest. To put the blue, white and green on the international map.
This communal and regional divide does not affect our marriage in anyway. Our relationship is based on mutual trust and respect. If there is misunderstanding, if there is anything we do not agree, we come to the table and discuss it. Then we put forward ways that we can handle things that are not good for our relationship. Same should be our drive and passion as a nation. If things are not going as planned, in terms of the economy or the political issues, we have to deliberate on those issues and look forward to how to make Sierra Leone a better place.
Naturally speaking, hate speech and intolerance in the community does affect couples. I think it is the political differences between people is what is driving them to be intolerant towards each other. But then, like my wife said, it is something we have tried to merge our marriage devoid of. Just as we have religious tolerance in our country where Christians and Muslims do get along well, so also if there are weddings you will find different ethic groups coming together to celebrate and make merry.
That is what I have experienced since I have lived in my country. I believe that is one way we can handle our political differences as well. I think Sierra Leonans cannot be influenced by hate speech because of their level of understanding as to what the situation is.
It is my view that people who are in the political divide should use their position to educate their nationals on what the situation is. This is a better option rather than to use hate speech. Hate speech will only fuel conflict and we don’t want to disintegrate into that level of frustration, violence and bitterness. If we look at the product of intermarriages, you will realise, by the grace of God, we have had very beautiful kids.
We will not want to tell them this was what we did for us to get to where we are at this time. So it is my kind call, that we should look at ourselves on the national concept and not on enthic or regional lines.
Kadi and Kholifa Koroma come from the two largest ethnic groups in Sierra Leone, but put their marriage before their different ethnicities. There has been a rise in ethnic tension and hate speech between the Mende and Temne communities in recent times, and the Koromas narrate how they navigate these national tensions in their married life.