By Brima Sannoh in Pujehun
A leading women’s organization in Pujehun, the Women of Wanjama (WOW), has called for a peaceful march to raise awareness about rising trend of drug abuse among young people in the district.
The women are staging the march on November 11, which they have declared as ‘Black Saturday.’
They said they are concerned that abuse of harmful drugs, particularly the synthetic drug called ‘Kush,’ which threatens the future of the district’s youth.
The decision to take to the street was reached at a Town Hall meeting convened last week by the District women’s leader, Mamawa Kaikai.
According to Mrs Kaikai, they will wear black dresses and hold placards designed with messages expressing their dissatisfaction over the trend of drug abuse, which she lamented is slowly killing the youths.
“We will make our position very clear to users of Kush and the authorities,” she declared at the Town Hall meeting.
WOW, an all-female advocacy group, was formed more than a decade ago with the aim of advocating for equality among men and women.
Pujehun is located in the Southern region of Sierra Leone, and its capital and largest city is also named Pujehun. Other major towns in the district include Zimmi, Potoru, Bandajuma, Gendema, and Massahun Kpaka. The major source of livelihood for majority of the inhabitants are fishing, mining, petty trading and farming.
With a population of 429, 574, according to the 2021 Midterm Population and Housing Census, Pujehun is one of the districts with the highest number unemployed youths in the country. Most of the young people there spend much of their time at football betting grounds and ‘Attaya’ bases, where they argue about games and politics all day.
Many of them blame their use of Kush on depression, which they also blame on poverty and unemployment.
Pujehun, like the rest of the southern district, is considered a stranglehold of the governing Sierra Leone People’s Party. It is one of the most neglected in terms of infrastructural development.
The concern over drug abuse in the district was acknowledged by the police in August when it declared “war against illegal drugs,” in an effort to halt the importation and trade in the illegal substances.
As part of their operation, the police raided notorious ghettos like Bottom Mango, Port Loko 55, Parliament, Limba Corner, Corner Kick and Power House, known for being hangouts for drug users and suspected criminals. Several people considered as leaders of these hangouts were arrested.
According to the police, that move led to the reduction in drug dealing and other criminal activities in the district.
But members of WOW say the situation has hardly changed, and they are demanding more concrete actions.
Mrs Kaikai told ManoReporters that the planed procession will take the route from Massahun Kpaka through Yonni, Lieawo, and Gobaru to the district headquarters town, where local and district authorities are expected to make commitment towards the fight against Kush and other dangerous drugs.
“We want our religious leaders, police, men and women to join this cause to ensure that we win the fight against drugs in our district,” she said.