Freetown, Baby!


Big Brother by jc2010sl
June 30, 2011, 7:55 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags:

A couple of months ago adverts started appearing in the local papers advising residents to obtain National Identity cards. One presumes the system was paid for by considerable cross-subsidy given that expats paid 440,000 leones (about 100 US Dollars) while locals paid 50,000 leones.

I was surprised to find the process not nearly as labyrinthine as I thought. I was fortunate that someone in my team had gone as a Guinea pig the week before. I was further aided that my colleague shared a surname with the head of the office – a co-incidence he seemed to delight in. I was shuttled from place to place and accorded the due dignity owed to “Mr’s Goodman’s colleague.” If anything, it was Kafka in reverse.

Given the recent furore in UK over the proposed introduction of ID cards, you might well ask if there was a similar debate in Salone over the need and rationale for the cards. If there was a debate, it passed me and everyone I know by. The Government Press Release was equally uninformative, stating baldly “The National Registration Secretariat is pleased to inform the general public that it will soon commence nationwide registration and issuance of biometric national identity cards.”

The cynic in me thought that whatever the purpose, the police would find a way to profit. “No ID card, sir? I’m sure we can make an arrangement.” But 3 months on (and having been asked for my driving licence on a couple of occasions) I’ve yet to be asked for my ID card. Maybe the police aren’t as enterprising as I thought, or maybe just more honest.

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