What Life has taught me is the autobiography of the Late President Siaka Stevens of Sierra Leone. I obtained permission from the Executor of the Estate of Siaka Stevens to republish the autobiography.

I republished the original in two parts as explained below:

Twenty-nine years ago, in 1985, one year before he retired from office, Dr. Siaka Probyn Stevens published his Autobiography- ‘What Life Has Taught Me’.  What Life Has Taught Me is in part a political history of Sierra Leone and in part the story of a self-made man.  Siaka Probyn Stevens was the third Prime Minister of Sierra Leone from 1967 to 1971 and the first Executive president of Sierra Leone from 1971 to 1986. Siaka Stevens died on May 29 1988. May His Soul continue to rest in peace.

This is a republication of the autobiography of my grandfather. This republication is in two parts. Part I covers the political career of Siaka Stevens and his role in shaping the political landscape of modern Sierra Leone. Part II covers his early childhood, growing up, education, surviving the depression, and his first job. Part II will be published on August 24 2014, marking his 109 birthday. Part I will be published on May 29 2014 to commemorate the passing away of Dr. Stevens on May 29 1988.

Dr. Siaka Probyn Stevens continues to influence the politics of Sierra Leone and the lives of Sierra Leoneans. He is part of the history of Sierra Leone. It is therefore important that Sierra Leoneans have access to his autobiography.

We particularly think of our youths today. They are the future leaders of Sierra Leone. How can they provide leadership, if they do not know the political and economic history of our country?

To realize the full potential of our people, marshal the resources of the country to the benefit of all Sierra Leoneans, will necessitate bold, innovative, and practical leadership. Such leadership must take note of the political history of Sierra Leone and those people that have shaped it. Such leadership should also confront honestly the roles of those who have shaped our nation. If we are to become the nation our people want and deserve, we must learn from the past. If we therefore do not have an honest account of our past, we will not realize our full potential.  As Siaka P. Stevens puts it,

‘ leaders must be capable not only of managing the day-to-day affairs of the country and ensuring law and order, but also of inspiring confidence at home and abroad; of initiating and pursuing policies required by the circumstances; of uniting the nation and reconciling conflicting tribal, regional, social and economic interests; of perceiving the longer-term development problems of the nation and inducing the masses to accept a measure of sacrifice and self-denial for the sake of the future; of resisting the temptation of immediate popularity at the cost of the next generation. In a nutshell, the leader of an emergent nation must be an astute politician, a realist and a visionary, an economist and a diplomat, a tough taskmaster and a humane judge, above all, a resolute fighter, gracious in defeat and generous in victory’.

There is considerable material about Siaka Stevens online from various sources-some reliable, some not so. Young and Old Sierra Leoneans alike have access to the internet and information that is out there. We believe that republishing the autobiography of Dr. Siaka P. Stevens will provide the youths with a lesson in our history.

In this first part, Dr. Stevens gives us an insight into our fight for independence. He writes about the formation of the APC party and the crucial role he played in making the party the success it is today. There is no doubt that my grandfather laid the foundations for a successful and prosperous country under the leadership of the A.P.C. party.

‘I spent much of my life fighting for change and reforms which appeared too many to be radical, or even revolutionary. I fought for the rights of our mineworkers because I knew that their working conditions could be improved as a result of resolute action on our part. I fought for the full sovereignty and independence of our country because I knew that our goal was within our reach and that our aspirations could be fulfilled if we went about in the right way. I fought for a more equitable social order in our country and against its domination by people from any particular region, tribe or social class because I knew that this too could be achieved, providing a healthy foundation for further development’. Siaka P. Stevens

Dr. Siaka P. Stevens was a pioneer in many ways; (in 1964) he was both leader of the Opposition and Mayor of Freetown simultaneously, a feat yet unparalleled and unprecedented in the political history of Sierra Leone; the first Opposition Leader in Africa to lead his Party to Government through the ballot box; the second African President (after Late Julius Nyrere) ever to relinquish power voluntarily; first voices in what became a chorus of protests in Africa over the lending policies of the International Monetary Fund. Subsequent global condemnation of this policy validates Dr. Stevens stand and re-echoes his vision.

This work is published with the expressed permission of The Stevens Family and the Executor of the estate of the Late Dr. Siaka Probyn Stevens.

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