Sierra Leone elections 2018 – caught between a pest and cholera

Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 28 June 2017

We are in deep something, and that indescribable something makes dung smell like lavender. The vast majority of us have become comfortably numbed to the weird and insane scenario that is developing in our animal farm.

Simply ignoring our inept leadership problem and our collective slide into descent, is to turn a blind eye to the predictable mess that a bootstrap approach to society and growth will always yield. It is simply delaying the inevitable.

At the pain of sounding like a broken vinyl, can we please, as a first step to our true recovery process, start looking at the reality that we are a broken nation?

We can keep on forming and talking the words that others talk; but we are hollowed out and evacuated by the wickedness that has replaced fairness.

The unintended consequences of corruption are overwhelming our society that is crapping out in 3D and in slow-motion. Even though mankind shouldn’t be in this appalling state in the 21st century, for God sake, yet we resolutely refuse to connect the dots. But reality is not theatre.

As I surveyed the political and social terrain of Sierra Leone while on tour recently, the question I kept asking myself was: how a handful of individuals can succeed in unleashing such economic and mental depravity on the many, in what can best be described as the stuff of Dante’s depiction of hell.

How has a group of witty political class scammed us in the spirit of catch-me-if-you-can; and the rest of the world raped us while we simply stand aside and broadly thank them for the pleasure?

The cries of the majority poor and those unfortunate ones that have been reduced to eating one meal a day, by a king and court that delight in spreading nothing but hardship and poverty; and ruling our nation with subtle tyranny and oppression; detaining and shaming all those that dare to oppose them or their obsessive and obscene wealth, made me wonder what is happening to us?

Think I’m making it up? Well, read the British Daily Mirror newspaper of today 23/6/17 on the plight of Ebola orphans and weep for our beloved country. The story is a metaphor that behoves us to take a critical look at the unpleasant images of how low we have fallen and be so shocked to the point of realisation, about the truth that is Sierra Leone and its future narrative.

Anyway, amidst the loot-driven, loyalty-laden ideological emptiness that passes for politics in the last decade, how have those in authority and their cohorts succeeded in scamming us out of every sense of political neutrality and its narratives for real, long-term underpinnings and consequences for our development?

In the headiness and euphoria spurred on by a mesmeric, demagogic leadership, how come that the lessons of our history, appear lost. How has false enlightenment from false politicians and equally fake political ‘giants’ left us without a soul and no real country to identify with.

I know very well that ours is a society living in denial and continually twisting realities; running away from its own shadow; contentious, evil and full of charade that we label leadership or governance. Shallow is our collective middle name, while our dog has been embedded into the wall not just pushed into it.

But the issue is: Why are we as a people, incapable of self-reflection? Why have we continued to fail to realise that no amount of atomisation can hide the putrid smell, oozing out of our rotten nation?

Why are we fiddling and forming a phony middle class, when the sound of thunder is already overhead and the storm is fast approaching?

Our nation is hurting and we cannot allow few individuals, in and out of power, to put us on a course towards further disaster. The country belongs to all of us – and yes, many are hurting; which is why we need real leaders to address the hurts that have led us to the brink of destruction in the first place.

Unfortunately, we have sat down and watched grade threes dictate the form of our progress and our value system. For so long, hypocrisy has been elevated to a national pastime.

Thirsting in a water dam, is now our predicament and we are left with nothing but an insane idealism about prosperity and our socio-economic evolution. What a pity. The people are getting fed up with continual raping and pillaging.

Anyway, while in town and amidst the manipulative socio-political shenanigans on offer, I realised that the land of infinite promise of my childhood, has been corrupted almost beyond repairs and corroded beyond recognition on the altar of sinister shallowness and crass narcissism.

Nature was here before us and will be here after we are gone. So it is sheer folly for a person or group, to want to manoeuvre into vantage position by force of nature and say they are the only ones capable of managing the descending avalanche of the cataclysmic change that will come sooner, rather than later.

Believe me, it is not the party alphabet that makes a conscientious politician, especially when we realise the fully porous membrane that serves as party ‘ideology’ (apologies to the word ideology). Neither does the suit make a man. So let us beware of the wolves is sheep clothing.

Back to what I was saying. My trip showed that our heightened national recourse to the mythical and mystical, as well as the miraculous, is obviously a sign of the attributes of a society in terminal decline and a people who have stopped valuing excellence and who have lost the core human values of morality.

It dawned on me that in the midst of the pervading dark clouds that has taken a permanent residency over our once glorious nation, unless we do away with the habit of cynically putting our silk robe on self-serving Pied Pipers, no one should seriously believe that the concentration of power and our resources, in the hands of false prophets with assumed humility and political oxymoron, like we’ve been doing, will magically lead to the exorcism of the fundamental problems of corruption, criminality, abuse of power, tribalism, mal/misadministration, etc.

Just look at where half a century of glorious riches and poor leadership have taken us – backwards. In fact the criminality and looting at the top has engendered what we are seeing at the bottom of the social pyramid. And it can only get worse, unless …

Yet, God will not change our condition until we change our value system. Period.

It has become so disturbing, waking up every day, in, or thinking about a country like ours, where our governance and democracy once had a semblance of decency, to realise that the vast majority of our compatriots, especially the so-called elites, apply 99% emotions and only one percent logic to any discussions or concepts about the true state of our nation, especially in relations to our resources, where we ought to be; and our governance, in general.

All these are driven by the dysfunction created by bad governance and corrupted economic management, as well as selfish political machinations. Definitely, if things were booming in a sustainable and progressive manner, as we are made to believe in the several propagandist outpourings, some of the happenings and agitation for something refreshingly different, which is currently creeping into the system, will not be taking place.

Little wonder most Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora are weary of identifying with the state of affairs. Although I disagree with those among us who want to ride on the back of current agitation for selfish reasons, vengeance or point scoring, I am consoled that a scam too far, will usually finish the scam artist.

Sierra Leone is a great country. Sadly, several knuckleheads and their offspring have combined over the years to drag the nation to the depth of destruction. These termites have rotted the very wood that provides the nation with moral integrity and replaced it with a deep poverty of the soul.

It is this abhorrence that I also pray, will be quickly imbued in most of us and drive us, not only to make drastic change, but to also force us to look starkly at the problem, without putting on blinkers. Evidently, more than a few of us are a large part of the problem.

Until we realise that the most critical node in our pursuit of a new socio-political order, is US, WE, THE PEOPLE, we will continue to live with the myth that our salvation lies in some unimaginable miracles; or the emergence of some glorified thugs, uneducated errand boys, political pimps and opportunistic glib-speaking and cunning schemers, as the Moses of our land.

Although the final warriors have not fully emerged, the unending array of combatants for President Koroma’s coveted seat, is now more a reflection of our national malaise than any solution pathway. Among the list, resides many of those that intellectualised and partook in the raping of our land, at one time or the other; as well as those relying mainly on blood money and graft-induced riches, because of our undue veneration of opaque wealth. (Photo: President Koroma and one of the questionable and most likely candidate to replace him in 2018 – Alpha Kanu).

Because of who we are; because of our system and penchant for self-delusion; because of our tendency to use our thumbs before our brains; because of our loyalty to tribalism and religion, we simply ignore the salient fact that any victorious ‘oppressor’ who we choose as leader, will continue to celebrate on the graves of our people; squander our resources and not attain our collective goal, as long as we subjugate ourselves to their whims and caprices.

Based on this premise, and since nature’s programming has no circular arguments embedded in it, it’s time to learn how to boil a frog through gradual heating. We need to flog into the psyche of the people, the fact that it is the quality and sincerity of purpose of the ‘leaders’ we choose, to implement whatever structure, plan, model or agenda we desire, that will give life to such aspirations that we may harbour and make it a success or failure. Otherwise it will remain nothing but only a schema on paper; or empty words from lying lips.

In the era of the slick-suited politician who will say anything to stay in, or grab power at all costs, it’s difficult to tell what values and principles our leaders have. And if you don’t know what someone’s values are, how do you know they are in sync with yours? How can you expect them to know or care about what’s important to you?

With the peculiar brand of toxic communication which has enveloped our governance and public affairs, it is clear that the cumulative result of leadership failures and poor choices over the years, at various levels, including government, political parties and traditional institutions, now confront us as a people with an existential threat of potentially profound significance.

Failure to change the narratives that has continued to dog us and for once establish new measures to relieve the tension, suffering and anger that permeates our society, means that we will continue to be victims of the malady that has and will befall us, as we spiral towards the dark space devoid of logic and reasoning.

We might continue to be the monkeys for the baboons’ meal of foreign benefactors, but we must realise that money can be used to measure prosperity, but you can’t buy prosperity with money.

Anyway, as we sit dazed by the political and constitutional paralysis created at the instant of the current administration, there seems to be emerging from the vacuum of our fading political chronicles, another despairing pointer to a choice between a pest and cholera.

Beyond the clichés being parroted by some of those in power and others expressing the desire to lead us, the lessons for democracy and governance taught by the display of the current leadership, should not be missed; if we are not to have a political implosion in the citadel of hustle that we have built through our collective apathy and negligence.

Ok. I must confess that I am one of those who strongly believe that our society needs a triple-bypass heart-surgery to survive. The only trouble is that the patient is still busy sitting in a fast food joint, gorging lustfully on a diet of greed, impunity, corruption and acute hypocrisy.

While we are at it, let us be frank to ourselves and also remember that nothing whatsoever is going to turn today’s Sierra Leone around, without first fixing the average Sierra Leonean.

To dream of a better country with the overwhelming level of immorality and criminality that permeates our society, whether exemplified by the leadership or not, is to simply replicate the current mess, in whatever new structures, vain slogan, or a new version of the mad king of Bavaria, that we come up with.

We need to wake up from our superficial tricks. There is just no way that we can envisage a new social order as long as we remain what we are.

Therefore, as all manner of men of timber and calibre sell their dreams of leading us from the abyss we find ourselves, it must be emphasised that: let’s fix the people to fix the system and our governance and now is the summer for 2018 to be crafted.

Let the noise of a new coalition – not be the sum of our ambition create a new society.

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