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Random musing: Toxic memory versus attitudinal change - Part 2

Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon

14 September 2011

Photo (courtesy of Awoko): Violence in Bo

  It is delusional to think that billowing clouds of political incense and other abominable acts, as well as pure savagery are a good showcase of democratic ideals.

Some might even claim that it is the anger in the perpetrators that is finding outlet.

From North Africa to Asia, democrats and nationalists are driving the wheel of democracy; yet senseless thugs and militants from our opposing political camps in our own environment want violence.


The SLPP would probably claim that it was simply reacting to a situation but wait a minute, kicking dignified and open display of restraint into the long grass amounts to a lip-service tactic to necessary change, required from all players in the political arena.

Although politics and decorum have historically been perceived as two irreducible variables, our democracy which received encomiums in 2007 and was hailed as an epoch worthy of emulation is in danger of having its ideals, values and accolades derailed by the now common spin-off crisis inherent in the crude and indecent fight for power.

But it is imperative that all our so-called leaders need to be wiser and pursue the path to peaceful co-existence in a safer, more transparent socio-political environment.

But, forget the howl of rage. How on earth do we progress in a climate of destructive mistrust, wanton confusion, orgy of unprecedented violence and cold political calculations?

Let us ask ourselves: Why the countdown to our politics is always frantic and unbelievably acrimonious?

Must we always play ethnic cards, religious bigotry, fuel personal feuds, political annihilation, as well as deceitfully heat up the polity and give the unprincipled a grandstand platform to generally display undignified behaviour?

Why canít we look at and play politics differently for a change? Why canít we focus on whatís important and leave the froth and nonsense on the burner of the past?

Why must parochial rather than national interests, pettiness, unruly behaviour, naked greed, disloyalty, casual dishonesty and downright deceit become the wrapper of our political delicacy?

Why must we continue to fool the majority of innocent impoverished masses that all is fair in love and war?

Why should those whose neglect appears to be the joy of locust-rulers be subjected to unpleasant anguish and political pestilence? Why must we always at every polling time, still stick our fox in a hole instead of a brave new era?

Well, Iím sorry but the whole outcry surrounding the challenger to a throne, which has now lit a match and the determined extermination of opposing views by all sides, are resembling a humour that is drier than the Sahara; especially when the palliatives for our national economy and social change have as much impact as a wet thump in a monsoon rain.

It is like a funeral at the heart of a carnival. It is simply decency sacrificed for the pure pursuit of a principle of vengeance, lust for power and fear. And this is the worrisome bit.

Dumping nearly four in five citizens on the scrapheap, trampling on their dreams, hopes and aspirations while chasing the shadowy trails of a single individual, is nothing but a dreadful waste of precious time. And those who want to drag the rest of us by the scruff of the neck down this avenue have their reasons for doing so.

Now that we have succeeded in pulling the trigger I hope those who simply fail to appreciate the fragile nature of our politics and the insidious threat of a mostly illiterate electorate who simply listen to their leaders will be prepared for the consequences of their fool hardiness.

It is even very baffling when so-called right-minded, enlightened and intellectual people are often disorientated by the conundrum between personal agenda and socio-political imperatives.

  For those clamouring for justice, which has been presented as the major agenda for 2012, is it justice for our youths to graduate and find no jobs?

For people to live in ramshackle tin-houses under the bridge and in Kroo Bay-like ghettos, while those who assumed lord and master over them just a few years back, are busy building not just one - but sometimes two to three mansions at a go or grabbing every available land?

Please educate me and forgive my ignorance if it is fairness that in the 21st century and with all the money pumped into our national coffers in the last four years, our schools are like cow-sheds; FOURAH BAY COLLEGE, that once enviable citadel of learning, could not afford paper for its exams and our hospitals are still glorified health clinics?

I may not know but tell me why, as darkness still envelopes us and rain water rather than GUMA irrigates the throats of the people; we go in search of justice for a selected crew while those alive are no better than walking corpses?

Why has one deceased personality who was caught up in the murky world of politics for which he had been a beneficiary, suddenly become deserving of national sympathy, while the Taqis, Minahs and Banguras sent to the world above in similar fashion, are not? Or have we forgotten Prince Cole?

Donít get me wrong, I empathise with the families of those who have been victims of any of the errors that went before; either in the era of Siaka Stevens or after; as well as those who were unwittingly caught up in the after-shocks of our inglorious past.

But of what use will their ghosts be, for the generality of the people, including their relatives who are probably caught up in the web of poverty?

Saying that the 'shadowy' past of an individual, victim or perpetrator, on whatever side of the divide, is a fundamental issue is therefore not only desecrating democratic ideals but also saying that our future is less important and we can remain nailed to the cross of that era as we trek on the bridge to nowhere.

With all his misdemeanours, how many times have Italians elected Berlusconi? Did we not ignore Kabbahís indictment because we wanted to rise from the ashes of our past and light the flame of a new future?

Why were there no shrill cry from the throats of these sudden advocates of morality, equity and justice?

While our nation is still in the cusp of yesterday, those who have made the past a component of our future as well as those who posture and preach the politics of envy and hatred are forgetting the fact that almost five years on, our real economy remains in a dire strait.

Even spin doctors could no longer put a gloss over the grim economic plight and the realities on the ground which is why the government suddenly decided to trade its fantasy for reality and accept that things had not gone according to plans, by recently pumping out from its erstwhile dried breast, the Ďmilk of kindnessí for the patched throats of a ravaged populace.

To simply exist, government has had to rely on the benevolence and dictate of the rest of the world, shaking a tin cup before them and using the ray from their outpost lantern to see the way in the maze of darkness that has enveloped us.

While people with light fingers and empty brains lead us into temptations through speeches in the wind, Colgate smiles, honeycomb utterances, meaningless sound bites rather than the ability to solve our problems, wouldnít it be wonderful if we could open a window to our dark existence and let in a gust of fresh air.

What Iíve discovered as a matter of fact, is that one of our fundamental problems is the pedestrian diagnosis of our ailment from jaundiced political, personal and ethnic 'eyes'; fuelled by the exercise of narrow self-interest from a collection of single-issue pressure groups.

But, as we suffocate under the empty national glucose-cylinders, why donít we learn to fill them with focus and the future in mind?

The suffering of the teeming masses is basically the multiplier effects of the disconsolate, spaghetti bowl kind of politics, fostered on us by political contractors masquerading as leaders in all facets of our society, including the media.

Fighting ourselves as we found out to our own peril during the decade long war, will not improve peopleís lives, accelerate growth and assist in the dream of economic development

While we should think of the families of those who lost their lives, whether under Pa Shaki, Momoh, the NPRC or the civil war, it is pertinent to realise that unless we learn the lessons of the fundamental error that cost our nation its innocence, scapegoating and resort to the capricious gods of violence, will not bring us any succour as the scourge of our politics will simply continue to fester and it will be impossible to see when and where it will all end.

In the meantime it will only benefit those with the wherewithal and ability to crucify their opponents, as well as the agents of foreign devourers who are feasting on our heritage while fanning the flames of poverty and discord.

  Although Sierra Leone appears to be like a stalk of bamboo swaying in the winds and yet never snapping, its very fabric is being further torn to shreds by divisive issues which are distracting from the march forward.

But these issues will surpass the existence of all those gladiators who are adorning the combatantsí uniform in readiness for the 2012 tug of war for the very soul of our country - whether it is the intra-party battle in Kono, or the inter-party Bo incident.

President Koroma has to be an empire-builder; right to look back, but more importantly to look forward at how decency can become a hallmark of our politics. It is important that he takes a symbolic step to demonstrate that the present leadership is serious about change.

Indeed, it is time to question the seriousness of those calling for attitudinal change. Do they mean real change or the usual pretensions without the willingness?

Collectively though, we must find the determination to remake our politics, society and nation in a way different from the intolerance, headiness, tribalism and high-wire political manoeuvres that turned our world upside down in 1991.

We need to put the chilling echo of death behind us and ring the bell of a new future. To forget the fear we often put ourselves and cherish the opportunity of a new life ahead.

The future belongs to those who want to promote national development and not those who want to continue to perpetuate division, poverty and mindless opportunism.

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