Finding salvation amidst the wreckage

Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 4 April 2016  

Freetown Poverty - Courtesy of National Geographic

For too long, we have been playing jazz music for Azonto enthusiast, which is why the suffocating level of poverty has started to open the ‘’eyes’’ of those, whose only craving is for good governance and a better life. (Photo: Poverty in Freetown – courtesy of National Geographic).

Since my arrival in town, discussions at every stop have been that of the state of the nation, the increasing hardship and governance in general.

It is as if the clock has struck midnight, and the stage coach has become a pumpkin once again. I guess it’s the person who has a cut in the mouth that knows the true taste of blood.

As more and more of our compatriots, especially the youths, question the value of their affinity with the nation, there is beginning to be an unraveling of the social order by those who believe they have no hope in the formal system as it exists now. They feel short changed. Frustrated. Disillusioned.

That Mungo Park discovered river Niger, is an item for the museum. The average human being lives for the current existence and not those being chronicled for the archives

That the ‘world’s best’ brought light and tarred roads, is from the Ancient Mariner; because despite the well-known resilience of the people, the truth is that majority of Sierra Leoneans are in abject poverty and the country as well as its economy, is not in the best of shape. Pure and simple.

That is today’s news. Let’s lift the iceberg of reality now rather than later. We have deep epistemological issues.

And until we can define our knowledge, in terms of our societal needs today and tomorrow, in a bid to fashion out the system to deliver the competencies needed to remove the culture of mendacity that has spread across every sphere of our society, we shall continue to struggle big time.

But there is absolutely no reason for Sierra Leone to be dying by a thousand cuts, and allow our key issues to become minor postscript in what for a longtime now, has seemed inevitable.

Instead of the current scenario in which shifty arm-benders and cockpit boys who swagger with the intimacy of power keep trying to fog the atmosphere, we need to know that there’s a compelling need to face our issues head on, without emotions and then deconstruct them dispassionately.

Only then can we begin to test our viable options, which can be narrowed down to implementables that will end the brigandage in government, and the persistence to continue to build medieval castles in an internet age.

Even musical chairs do come to a grinding halt.

President Koroma launches 2015 census reportWhen a society that is socially and economically imperiled as Sierra Leone, begins to wallow in the sentimentality of a tale like ours, then we should hit the pause button and introspect. Because, unless we collectively demand and embrace sustained socio-economic and political change, our beloved country will be permanently blinded.

We need to start taking collective ownership of the shame and national disgrace that steers us in the face. There’s no reason leaving truth twisting in the breeze.

Experience is a comb that life gives you, after you have lost your hair. Since it requires a lot of carefulness to kill the fly that perches on the scrotum, I believe the future direction of Sierra Leone is something that we all need to take a very keen interest in, devoid of parochial and other inherent sentiments.

We need to leave the past behind, next shop: the future. We should no longer continue to compromise strong values for political expediency. Political convenience should stop trumping the national interests.

poverty in salone slumsOur sharpest pitchfork should be aimed at the dark heart of the political sector, to unearth those things that have failed us as a result of mismanagement and greed, while ensuring that the new direction we want has the flexibility to smooth out extreme imbalances, and also expose the moral hollowness at the heart of our politics.

Set against decades of stagnation, the critical point about the whole country, no matter how good or palatable it looks, is a corrupt system which sub-optimizes the national socio economic and political network.

Any suprastructure built on such a weak infrastructure is bound to collapse, especially when they are just pots full of agendas of wishful thinking.

If I may ask, have we spared a thought for how this country will look in the next one to two decades, if we don’t eyeball our problems truthfully and dispassionately in a bid to deconstruct them for what they truly are?

From one generation to another generation, we remain deep in the woods.  Our hopes appear to dim every day; our dreams crushed and our aspirations fizzle. Everyday our longings and desires for Eldorado remain bar room discussions and whispering palms.

Right before our eyes, we watch as hustlers and pretenders dominate our environment, and cleverly hack our national software. We’ve had to change and adapt every so often.

Yet it is those who changed their moral platforms who remain the source of our problems.

To find salvation in the midst of this hustlers’ paradise, means acceptance of our folly, not mollycoddle.

A river cuts the rock, not because of its power but because of its consistency.

When are we going to wake up as a nation and take responsibility to rule ourselves well, build a virile nation and lay good examples for generations to come? We’ll continue to talk.

6 Comments

  1. Dear Josh, the Sierra Leone Telegraph is carrying out a noble task in the interest of Sierra Leone, the people, and for all progressive Sierra Leoneans, and I expect you are one of them. All of whom are defenseless people held to ransom by dishonest and greedy political hustlers, who harbour no consideration for their well-being.
    Isn’t it lamentable!

    Perhaps you’re not well in touch with the grassroots masses who struggle everyday just to provide themselves a square meal a day, which turns out to be a daunting task to accomplish. I suppose this is not the Sierra Leone you would wish to live in and have children.

    It is our responsibility as Sierra Leoneans to work earnestly and redress the flaws of governance of our incumbent government to make Sierra Leone a better place to live for our children, grand children and posterity?

    The Sierra Leone Telegraph and its editor are bringing us the news in a well balanced and impartial manner, without favor or particular interests.

    The Sierra Leone Telegraph and editor have opened a window of hope, through which we can see the limelight and have sight of the horizon at a distance, an opportunity we should make use of judiciously to express our disagreement with the culture of governance in the country.

    Sierra Leone is a terminally sick and bedridden patient, who may pass away sooner or later, if we do not seek to drive a change in the status quo in the country.

    As people who crave for progress in our motherland, there is the urge to re-examine carefully the current state of affairs, future perspectives and outlook for Sierra Leone in the next decade – just like the author of this column has sighted.

    Every human being strives for progress in life; we strive for good health, harmony and the basic comfort which goes to make living worthwhile. However, none of these God given blessings to mankind is viable in Sierra Leone.

    Greed and the uncontrollable pursuit of easy wealth by most of our government officials in detriment to the social well-being of the people, are causing social mayhem in the country.

    Sierra Leone has come a long way in terms of bad governance – since our independence fifty-five years ago. All successive governments of the APC and SLPP had failed the people of this country and they continue to fail us.

    We have suffered a cruel dictatorship under the Siaka Stevens APC regime for many years, which led the country into a decade long civil war, thanks to the international community who succeeded in bringing that war to an end.

    They guided us along to usher in a democratic system; nevertheless, successive governments after this experience have shown no sign of improvement in the culture of governance in the land. So we the people must now redirect our destiny.

    Sierra Leoneans, this is time we must make our voices heard on issues of national interest in clear and constructive messages to our government. We have to identify the ills of the governance system and denounce them strongly, driving change into the right direction.

  2. Josh, I love the journalistic philosophy of The Sierra Leone Telegraph, for it is informed by fair play, objectivity, and critical analysis of the issues that matter to Sierra Leoneans.

    I therefore just want to doff my hat off to the editorial staff and proprietor of this paper – Mr. Abdul Rashid Thomas, for the great work they are doing, that has won the attention, interest and admiration of so many people, with interest in Africa, and Sierra Leone for that matter.

    This has happened because they have challenged the claims, assumptions, propositions and proposals of public officials who hold important positions in our country.

    Take for example the mining policy of the current government that has resulted in the current situation Octea is in at the moment. Any serious government would have seen through the financial shenanigans of this company and shut it down from the get go.

    In a world that is becoming increasingly integrated, more complex and dynamic, leaders should appoint competent people into office, people who can think and advice the government on policies that capture the ‘essence’ of such complexities.

    The situation is even dire when it comes to the financial environment, and thus you have to have leaders who can think deductively, before designing policies. Leaders who have the intellectual capacity, and understand the theories that guide the complexity of international finance. This will enable such leaders to protect and guard the country’s assets and mineral resources and prevent the outright looting of those resources, an act Octea is currently engaged in as I write in Sierra Leone.

    However, this is not the case in our country, as either the leaders in charge of mining and economic policy and by inference, the government do not have a clue about the theories and inductive models that guide international finance, or they are in collusion with the mining company to fleece our people dry and leave us holding the empty bag as it is happening currently with Octea in Sierra Leone.

    Thus, all The Sierra Leone Telegraph is doing in this instance as well as all the other matters they highlight, is to explain the issues to the Sierra Leonean people, point a bright light on these burning, life and death issues.

    This is the essence of journalism, and The Sierra Leone Telegraph is at its best doing this hard, though painful work.

  3. Hello Josh – thanks for your comment. The ethos of the Sierra Leone Telegraph is justice and good governance. To this end, our mission is to highlight the overwhelming social and economic injustices that the poor people of Sierra Leone are being subjected. Not withstanding this, we do publish reports of positive nature as and when they occur, though I must say that life for the majority of our brothers and sisters is so appalling that to pretend otherwise is itself a travesty.
    To ensure that our readers can access other stories or alternative perspectives to our editorial ethos, we have provided a link to almost all of the news media in the country including the government’s propaganda mouthpieces. There, you will no doubt find a lot of feel good factor stories.
    The way we see things in Sierra Leone today, there is little or nothing to smile about when those around you are struggling to find meal for their families, pregnant women dying at childbirth, young men, women and children dying of preventable diseases, people dying because of poor sanitation and lack of clean safe drinking water, and poor healthcare, while those in power can fly abroad along with their families as health tourists for checkups and treatments.
    Sorry Josh, here at the Sierra Leone Telegraph, from our perspective, there is little or nothing to be cheerful about with regards the abject poverty and injustice that our people are experiencing every day.
    But please feel free to visit government websites and their sponsored media sites. Thank you.

  4. Hello Abdul,

    Can you write some positive articles on Sierra Leone? everything I see on here is negative about Sierra Leone and this makes people not want to go there or live there. How about writing about its beautiful beaches, its friendly people, is improving roads, its new airline (how is that going?), what future projects are there that will make the place more appealing to investors to come to Sierra Leone? And I am sure you can think of more topics.

    Your writing is great and I like reading your posts. However, I would like them even more, if they were positive and up lifting for the people of Sierra Leone.

    It may be more difficult to find as many good posts, however it is important people can see the good side of Sierra Leone also, which there are many good sides.

    Thanks

    Josh

    • “Yet it is those who changed their moral platforms who remain the source of our problems”
      I like this statement because it is a poignant reminder of the status quo in our country Sierra Leone, and the reason why we continue to wallow in the socio-economic malaise we find ourselves in.

      The source of our problem lies with those who have abdicated their moral obligation
      to our people – like our President, who has shown malice and disrespect to our constitution, our media practitioners, who care very little about investigative journalism but much about press attaché positions in foreign embassies, our parliamentarians who seem to have forgotten that they are elected to represent their people, our NGOs and Civil Society organisations that have morphed into praise singers; and our Anti Corruption Commission which is incapable of seeking justice and convicting blatant and unbridled corruption among government officials.

      We have some of the most sought after natural resources in the world, yet our people continue to live like beggars. We cannot change this trend if we continue to ignore our plight.

      And this is why news outlets such as the Sierra Leone Telegraph are necessary, to continue to raise these issues in an attempt to enlighten and educate the masses. BRAVO!!

    • Josh,

      Are you seriously looking for positives or are you having a laugh? Who, for goodness sake, would not want to sing the praises of their motherland.

      Sadly though, in this case there is none to write home (forgive the unintended pun) about. It is corruption, corruption and even more corruption all the way! Pretty much a free for all – a rat race. Corruption that has no bounds, no sacred cows. Even Ebola funding was not spared.

      And the airline you asked about? Its being wound up as we speak! Simply because some shallow minded politician(s) were prepared to sell our sacred flag for pieces of silver; willfully choosing not to bother checking the integrity, let alone financial standing of the so-called investors.

      Due diligence is an alien phenomenon to those currently charged with governance in our once sweet Salone. Maximum impunity at minimal effort, is the order of the day!

      But then again, who do you blame for our predicament other than the naive lot who ever thought APC will be different this time round.

      In the words of Einstein, insanity is doing the same (crap) thing over and over again and expecting different results. It is a struggle to find any positives here, at this stage of our history, hard as one tries.

      Over fifty years of independence down the drain! What a shame. Apologies to disappoint you, mate.

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