Sierra Leone at crossroads – a letter to my countrymen

Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 March 2015

Cotton Tree - FreetownI hope this article touches you in a sensitive place, and make you come to a decision as to the way forward for our beloved Sierra Leone.

In my last article, I stated inter-alia that the on-going intra-party saga of the ruling APC party, together with the near-comatose opposition, might just be the catalyst for the sanitisation of our political system – and by extension, our governance and society.

At present we are like a blind man in a dark room, looking for a black cat that isn’t there.

Together with those who are supposed to be leading us, we fan the ember of a slow burning fire in our grotesque caricature of a sane society.

The benchmark symbols to the glory of corruption, impunity, brazen deficiencies, and incomprehensible socio-political and economic derivatives, are emblematic of the sobering precedents that are the poignant error of our country and its democracy.

As some readers have pointed out to me, it is indeed time that we went beyond the rhetoric of analysing the present only, and move to a fundamental rung of the ladder, where we as a people, take our destiny into our hands and face the challenge of how to truly fast-forward our march of civilisation.

And if nothing else personifies that necessity, the muddled development of the sabre-rattling APC saga (I’ve stopped being interested in the pantomime), and the continued attempt to hoodwink the nation into believing that the whole drama is not an extension of the self-perpetuating nightmare on offer by those in power, shows the level of contempt in which the current political class holds the entire citizenry.

Zhao Yanbo, Ernest Bai Koroma, Samuel Sam-SumanaIt shows how uninformed, undisciplined and uninterested the ‘Merchants of Venice’ who reign over us have become. It is a sorrowful tale of our times, where one group’s ideological and power-driven vision becomes the nation’s suicide tablet.

It confirms how the retinue of political and economic marauders with vested interests, blinker and stammer in the glare of the historic façade, and yet can whistle scrap from a happy tune during breaks in the funeral march of the ravaging Ebola virus.

Now most of the voiceless Sierra Leoneans riven with serious social and political tensions are clamouring for both reason and momentum, for an impartial scrutiny of the true state of affairs in Sierra Leone.

My fear is that the national psyche has been so battered that, it is showing a total lack of resolve, determination and sense of patriotic duty to replace the symptom of our easy-come and easy-go culture, which like a festering sore, risks poisoning our entire system once more.

Napoleon said; “the world suffers a lot. Not because of the violence of bad people, but because of the silence of good people.”

Poverty in FreetownSo I would like to ask some very pertinent questions: Why are we pretending that all is well with our nation? Can this be the picture of a country we want or the calibre and quality of the governance that we dream of?

Is this what thousands of our fellow men and women perished for, as we tore ourselves apart for a decade? Is this why some of us are refugees and glorified second class citizens of strange lands?

Why have we as a people and a nation lost all our pride and cherished values, while allowing the political class – whose sole aim is to influence our way of life and modify our faith, beliefs and aspirations, continue to do so much incalculable damage to the soul of our nation?

Have we been so blinded by the primordial ideals of the present political class and whatever cause they claim to be pushing that we are failing to realise that a ride into the future with the present band of politicians at the wheel, is not only horrendously squeaky bum time and bad for us, but a nightmarish disaster waiting to happen?

111219_povertyAre we too cocooned in our various little worlds, that we are failing to see that the current administration has created two different societies in one country, a sorry tale of two nations: one realm for a few who have so much in their tiny island of prosperity; and the other territory for the many who have so little in their vast ocean of misery?

Does this sad tale of our nation, not prick our consciences and percolate our consciousness?

Why have we sat back and watched the antics of opportunists and enemies of the people, who are willing to plunge the country into chaos under the guise of a democracy that is going down a strange slope?

We are fed on a diet of deceit, misinformation, outright falsehood and lies, and yet we keep mute as the country is raped dry by those whose yesterday was a story of rags, but who today are not only stupendously wealthy – but have turned our future into Russian roulette.

Our nation continues to be stripped naked and put in permanent reverse gear, yet most of us hold our peace or sit on the fence for fear of being labelled opposition or anti-government agents, while those with all the charms of a public loo and tinted integrity seize the reins of power.

Our confused and long-suffering compatriots continue to bear the brunt of our drift into nothingness; yet those at home and abroad, who should challenge the state of affairs in our nation, keep an embarrassing silence on the narrative of our collective will which has been allowed to disintegrate into one of noble but inevitable failure.

Are we so unaware of the glaring truth of what we are witnessing, or is it that we are enjoying the gradual self-implosion of the mediocrity that the various past and present vagabonds in power have institutionalised?

I am not talking about partisanship. I am more interested in those social and democratic tenets as well as values that will not only advance the cause of our nation, but also the supreme welfare of the generality of the people who get hoodwinked and caught up in the antics of our political elite.

water poverty4Those innocent souls who live without basic amenities; who are unemployed; who do not feel secure as they are ravaged by diseases and who have become political pawns in the hands of ruling cabals at every turn.

We, especially the enlightened populace, need to ask ourselves whether it is right for Sierra Leone – a nation where the enabling environment of our youth has become the disabling cesspool of our adulthood, should continue in this blatant walk in the dark – led by blind men, into an eternally painful shame.

Be ye not deceived any longer, whilst we are on that fence or safely tucked away in our mansions at home or in foreign lands. None may be safe – especially our less-fortunate loved ones.

Most of the time we delude ourselves that it shouldn’t be our business, or that we should leave it all for politicians. Yet, see where it has got us.

Alpha kanu and Logus KoromaWe need to think deep and not make a huge mistake of perception. While those who have stolen my generation’s wealth and frittered away that of my children, now want to plunder that of my grandchildren, must we also choose to mortgage our tomorrow and that of future generations unborn for the crumbs and lollies on offer; or for tribal, political, religious or social sentiments?

Whether we like it or not, at the bottom of the whole issue is ‘our today versus our tomorrow; our present versus our future. It is our aspirations against the ego of power wielders; it is our dreams as opposed to the hunger of those beautiful leopards that can never change their skin.

Amidst the general air of disenchantment, the ravaging Ebola, political fraud, and the monster of impunity, the debilitating symptoms of economic and political distress continue to envelope the masses and what lies beyond, is the bloody toll of inaction and delay on the part of both the governors and the governed.

We are all aware of what is wrong with our nation and often know the solution. But somehow, we have become embedded in our suffering and smiling and comfortable with the retrogressive system that makes it possible for us to continue to allow the worst of the parasitic political class to superimpose themselves on us.

Let me tell you, this is the time to speak up. We need to stop being part of the political football. It is the future of our nation at stake.

Time will come when those who think they will escape abroad won’t even be able to leave their homes enroute the airport.

Those with visas will watch their passport and visa as they watch cartoons. Those who are now singing the Lord’s song in a strange land will also look at the horizon and sing the song of lamentation, as most are doing on social media now.

Freetown skylineThis is the time for all to speak up for a new Sierra Leone and in defence of our democracy and governance, outside whatsapp, instantgram, twitter, Facebook etc. If not, the repercussions may reach far backwards in time, as these things tend to.

One thing I know is that we will not have any meaningful development except we fight for the cleansing of our society.

It is an illusion to pretend that the problem will be solved by the crop of political leaders that we currently parade, as events unfolding are showing us.

It is further illusion to also think that the call to arms for all of us to show more interest in seeking ways to ensure that the democracy highway we are plying is strengthened, without ensuring that either now or in the future, those we have entrusted with the mandate of governance realise that they are servants – subject to discipline and not slave masters above the law.

Our nation is in a dire strait, maybe worse than ever. All that one can see at this point in time are the pain and anguish, frustration and helplessness of the majority as they age away prematurely and at a dizzying pace.

Yet those who were chosen to shepherd them to the promise land, believe that their personal whims are more important. They prefer the garment of pettiness instead of the hood of seriousness.

They see the solution, not in the ashes of our disastrous past, but in the veil of phoney gallantry and the bowels of a sand castle. They continue to show a perverted nature of a mind based on their idea of power

They busy themselves debating whether to drink Rose wine simply because they cannot decide whether they like Red or White instead, even when such actions are not the stuff of adoration.

They re-define governance and reduce our country to a laboratory where their whims hold sway.

A spectre is haunting our nation, which points towards an inevitable collision with reality very, very soon. But the choice is ours now, if we want to continue to do things the same way again, let us continue.

But we cannot make a single complaint tomorrow, when it dawns on us that our best times remain our beginnings.

I hope to write again to you soon.

1 Comment

  1. Just when I thought the APC party can get no lower, they somehow managed to find a shovel and dug deeper. This is a new low.

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