Op-Ed: Arata Paopa – A Suitable Example Of How Politicians Can Misuse Young People In Sierra Leone

Young people in Sierra Leone make up a higher percentage in Sierra Leone. The youthfulness of the population can be utilized as a springboard to have a productive nation. Most importantly, skills and moral support are advanced mechanisms to bring out the best in them.

Unfortunately, young people in this part of the world are locked in a stalemate of poverty and unequal opportunities. The BBC investigative reporting team recently covered a disappointing story bordering around youths’ addiction to “Kush.” Since there have been limited opportunities, many young people depend on political patronage for their day-to-day survival. Thus, one could notice that there are distinct sets of benefactors or critics when a change of government happens. For reference sake, you have the All People’s Congress (APC) youth ambassadors whereas the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) ones. They all have a bite of the national cake when their respective parties are in governance.

Alicious Deen Tarawally popularly known as Arata Paopa is a perfect example of how young people could be vulnerable to political actors amidst neglecting their wellbeing and concerns. Well, loyalists would want to disagree perhaps. Fine. But, I consider Arata Paopa the protagonist in this chapter.

I knew about Arata Paopa around 2019 when words made their way to the public that a Pro-SLPP fanatic was heading to witness a bye-election. Later that day, chaos broke out and pictures of him destroying materials belonging to the country’s electoral body were publicized. No substantial judgment was reached on the matter.

However, Arata Paopa was a dedicated follower of his party in governance. You can find pictures of him with the president at party functions. Sometimes, he would appear live on social media to eulogize the ‘good work’ of the president and issue intimidating remarks to other political opponents. I suspected he was a pawn to the exploits of some crafty politicians.

Arata Paopa is one I class as a peculiar and energetic bloke. He was hyperactive in always satisfying his political masters. Nevertheless, it was easy to identify that things didn’t pan out well. Wait for a second! Considering that Arata Paopa spent quality time fulfilling the bidding of his party superiors, you’d expect him to be accessible to mega opportunities, right? That was never the case.

Even though he pledged his all for his party, nothing significant was made of his life. I recognized his imminent end when he was beaten by a mob after he was caught engaged in theft. One of many public beatings. Months ago, he had emotionally lamented over certain neglect by party authorities over his welfare. Can you imagine? Arata Paopa – the die-hearted son of the soil was languishing in the hole of poverty.

The sons and daughters of the president or cabinet ministers weren’t as committed to defensively identifying as stern associates of their political party. Yet, they were accessible to financial support and opportunities. Arata Paopa who has always promoted his party belonging cannot boast of any personal achievement whatsoever. He once recalled destroying the banner of another political party which landed him in serious trouble.

You see, what Arata Paopa failed to realize is that he was merely a disposable tool. Those who had a commanding toll over his life did not land him with a job or accumulation of skill. Why? It was important for him to stay jobless because it is only then he will be a potent weapon for politicians to use. He was so overwhelmed that he made the crucial mistake of not reconsidering his future.

Like Alicious Deen Tarawally, there are many young people within this section. And if anything, the Arata Paopa analogy should be a convincing argument that no political party or individual is worth taking the bullet for. There must be conscious efforts by young people to occupy themselves with more productive activities. Afterward, unemployment, in my opinion, is a deliberate scheme to keep young minds idle for more political exploits.

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