Sierra Leone in decline – a product of a few people and ignorance of the majority

Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 3 December 2016

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You can’t kill the dead, can you? One of our problems is that having outsourced virtually our very existence to other cultures’ understanding frameworks, our society has now funked, as it slithers down the slope of poverty in both the spiritual and economic kind – a cause and effect syndrome.

However, watching the slow death of critical thinking and public honesty as well as the boldness of the lies politicians tell, and our propensity to accept them unquestioningly, I’ve come to realise that it is our complacency, our acceptance of socio-economic backwardness as the norm, our love of deception which feeds our delusion, that are the true causes of today’s recession.

As I listen to, or read the consistent shrill of government’s explanation as it attempts to absolve itself from our economic plight, I shudder at the thought that because we continue to see politicians as an independent, all powerful scourge of a system which allows our leaders to replicate and self-perpetuate themselves in power, we have contributed to our entering the twilight zone where lies and truth are the two sides of the same coin.

Then as I heard of our leaders go begging for cake crumbs from anyone’s table, it is now clear that this country is being scammed. Life has rarely been more difficult and the heavens above as well as China and any other foreign land, but not our leaders, have become the likely saving grace for the masses.

Ernest Bai Koroma,  Hu JintaoAusterity measures, foreign junketing, etc. You can talk performance for only so long, before its true absence bites you in the butt. We will know we are beginning to get the direction, when productivity rather than allocation becomes the mantra.

We all know our problems and the possible solution pathways are very obvious.

Clearly, the absence of capacity and the natural as well as expected psychological blockage and performance inability of the hustler-managers in power, remain serious stumbling blocks.

Our managers because of their deficiencies remain uncompromising in their determination to keep out those with relevant competence, devoid of partisanship, nepotism and tribalism to help steer the nation out of the doldrums; simply because they are not truly interested in real capacity that will spotlight them for the shallow hustlers they truly are.

However, as society progresses, people seek new meaning for life and living – hence the rejection of old order and the adoption of the new. When life makes no more sense, spontaneous reactions force new meaning and order.

As I followed the Theresa Mbomaya drama, the ganging up to intimidate and threaten the citizenry, the short-term-grandstanding to protect an already poisonous legacy, I realised that buried somewhere in our history, lies an age-old, on-going struggle, often ignored by those in power.

From the scanty noise we hear from a distance, it occurred to me that the resort to the same tactic of the past, is nothing but a grim monument to catastrophic failure by leaders locked in a time warp, and a reminder of the plight of a populace, herded by civilisation into a bewildering technological age.

My conclusion was that to wait for the national morality to be fixed as a panacea to our problems and the economic illiteracy of corrupt, morally bankrupt and selfish leadership, will be living in a fool’s paradise. The moral decline in our nation is a product of a few people and the ignorance of the majority.

But revolution, whether in its earth-shattering form or as a slow onset process, will certainly have to happen. One day, the people will rise…; that day is nigh. And it is getting ‘nigher’ every day as the star dims faster than it rises.

I am aware that we have virtually lost our past and the rope of the present is fast slipping out of our hands, while we grope into the future. We exist with the hope that the future will enable us to live. To some, the verdict is that we are doomed and we are simply awaiting the apocalypse. It is as if we have made a permanent contract with poverty.

VICTOR FOH - Vice PresidentMy take is that the current situation makes the analysis of our economic policy and the direction of our governance, even more poignant.

The dimensions of the culpable anxiety in the country and among those in the diaspora, is whether to follow the old ignoble path of the last nine years or to establish a new refreshing fresh air. Of course, each of these choices comes with profound consequences for an already impoverished people and a battered nation.

Even then, my appeal to Sierra Leoneans today, is that we should not let the government’s tantrums over its inability to innovatively turn up the nation’s heartbeat at this distressing time, divert attention from the dangers of the current economic situation.

We are our problem. We have to change ‘we’, by force or by real fire. Let those under the hammer start the revolution. Our Sims may have been mined by clowns whose water pistols contain weed killer; but when are ‘we’ going to throw off the hood of darkness, which politicians have held over our entire lives?

President koroma and victor foh at APC conference 30 april 2015While there’s global recession no doubt, the sneering disdain and terminal arrogance of those in power, is one of the reasons why they have made a pig’s ear of the economy.

We cannot therefore allow them to make a dog’s dinner of the future and prolong the long-term economic scam that has been contemptuously imposed on us and forced down our throats; even as the government leaves a stack of IOU’s for future generations; instead of investment in a prosperous future.

Our nation’s productive capacities have been neglected into obscurity. Regaining those, require mass build-up of knowledge which the current shallow leader-dealers, obviously resent. If we, the people don’t seize the initiative, I’m afraid that we are just preparing ourselves for the perfect storm, sooner than later.

The task to develop our nation begins with the type of leader we appoint for the job. The kind of leadership, that we all long for, is a leadership with integrity, ability, readiness, self-conviction and assured capacity to initiate and drive development, with the thrust, on the utilisation of our resources for the benefit of the people. It’s time to act right. The years of servitude and mindless rulership must be brought to an end.

A structure is only as good as its constituent nodes. Right now our situation is at the atomic level. But, molecular structures count for zilch when the constituent atomic forces are weak.

We need to fix our morality before we start talking change, prosperity or even a breakthrough. You can’t clasp air in your hand. We need substance not rhetoric.

One by one, our eyes will open to how shallow our nation has become and the magico-mystical population that now exists. Sad. Unbelievable waste of a populace in the knowledge century.

Worse still, the boys and girls of yesterday have become the men and women who define the developmental character of our nation today. Sadly, their actions and inactions is far from the rich store of quality personnel, in all spheres of our developmental endeavour, that populated our yesterday and used to set worthy and commendable examples of patriotism while being a purveyor of nationalistic fervour.

parliamentary history - siaka stevensRemember 1977 and the infamous Pa Shaki must go, when our young men and women dared to dream of a better Sierra Leone, to think and to challenge the existing order, while striving to lay the path of change and new ways of doing things. That same generation, now lord it over the nation today.

But rather than reignite the fearless spirit of their age, they are turning round to kill such choices that gave them freedom of thought. They have reawakened the season of denials, peddling of lies, falsehood and misinformation; as well as brazen intimidation and desperate bravado, even in this perilous times.

As descendants of the progenitors of our nadir, they believe in bringing back the strong-arm tactics of the past which led to the worst period in our history. Like their ancestors, they believe in the deplorable and undemocratic cowing of dissenting voices whose actions threaten to show that the bluster and spin of their government are once again, a miserable failure. I advise them to have a rethink.

Meanwhile, there seems to be an increasing manifestation of the collective surrender of our individual choices and free will, to divine intervention. We are now in the realm and reality of constant expectations of miracles. We appear too scared and unsure of the direction that we really want the country to take, especially in this period of excruciating pain.

Delusions have taken over reason and logic, as we rely on prayers to deliver us from the claws of our ‘oppressors’, even as we detest where they have led us. We forget the fact that it is only hard work and our collective determination for true change, that will power the engine of economic prosperity and good governance; not the sweet words of our leaders or our wishful, ethno-religious thinking and prayers.

Our case has become that of a person waiting at the river bank for the crab to sleep and those in power are exploiting our ‘blindness’, even as we sink into the morass of hopelessness and our collective dream fades farther into the distance where the light of hope is tainted and our longings and desires for Eldorado diminished.

Rather than dissipate its energy on emasculating the citizenry, the government should concentrate on ensuring a turnaround for the nation. It must act now. It needs to realise that weapons cannot quell restiveness, arising from pains, hunger and agonies of poverty.

The whole gamut of processes, procedures, norms and mechanisms, driven by a corrupt political process which makes up the logic of the Sierra Leonean state, has been totally skewed up. The misconduct of some of those in private and public life, now calls for eternal vigilance from the citizenry so as not to be hoodwinked and incited to generate bad blood and ill feelings among themselves, by agents of darkness on the prowl.

You know something though? Demagogues are the gravest threat to democracy; especially since the moral quality of our leaders, defines the character of the society.

theresa-mboya-2By the way, I don’t know Theresa Mbomaya. But since those who keep plunging us into disaster are hell bent on perpetuating their injustice against the poor, I believe it is time we arose collectively as a nation to put a stop to the gross impunity in our governance.

Let all those lawyers who profess to be activists, stand up and be counted by offering their services to the poor victims of a jittery government. Ok, the corrupt judiciary will probably not dispense justice as it should; but let it be on record and a signal that we are tired of being treated as serfs.

The clean ones in the Judiciary, and those whose mouths have not been stuffed with the corruption and rottenness of our governance and a cheated nation, should stand up.

What the cheek. The reality on our streets and homes is a true reflection of all the failed promises. Why should those who feel strongly about their condition not be able to vent their frustration; when all we’ve had for the past nine years, is the deafening demand for us to applaud every little step? Did they not realise that vengeance will come someday?

Right now, both young and old are suffering. Youths can see what’s wrong but they’re scared to talk. The older ones see what’s wrong but they’re too greedy.

Let me tell every Sierra Leonean: if you keep pretending you don’t know anything, what’s patience, without reward?

Whether we like it or not, one day we will transcend personality cults and crowd around ideas – the very definition of ideology.

When that happens we’ll appreciate that it is we, and neither the system nor our resources, that have been the problem of this country.

Let’s remember that recession comes in the form of a long distance race and not by sprint.

2 Comments

  1. Having spent a week visiting Freetown, tracing my old home and school of some 50 years ago, I have had quite a few sleepless nights trying to think of how I would get Sierra Leone out of the state of poverty, decline and decay.

    Whilst your paper’s comments on the government and leaders may be justified and accurate, there needs to be a plan and a beginning. Approaching the country as an outsider and tourist, my only thought of a practical start would be:

    Allow tourists in the country without having to apply and pay a large amount for a visa, months before visiting. Issue one at the airport… free. Make it an easy and welcoming country to visit.

    Bring the Airport up to an acceptable standard for tourists and set a system in place that makes it easy for tourists to transfer from aircraft to boat to hotel without hassle from endless hawkers and ‘assistants’.

    Make the tourist’s first impression to feel safe and welcome, rather than in danger and in chaos, as is the case now.

    As Nice is to France, Rio to Brasil – make Lumley Beach the centre of the tourist industry by cleaning up the environment from rubbish, developing more hotels, restaurants, roads, beach activities, etc.

    Sierra Leone has great weather, lovely friendly people and a culture that is individual to Sierra Leone. Tourism will bring in huge amounts of cash which will encourage businesses to support the tourist trade with maintenance being at the heart of it.

    Tourist venue attractions can be developed elsewhere such as the Chimpanzee reserve and forest walks and dance troupes and theatres, etc. Tourists will spend hundreds of pounds, dollars and Euros each trip and from little acorns…..etc.

    I visited my old International school whist there and spoke at the 60 year anniversary assembly and would love to help them in some way, but find it impossible to get in touch with them because of lack of internet, post or even road names.

    The children at the school were delightful, eager, hopeful for their future and with lots of energy. The drawback is that the major part of the population is like this and needs guidance from older, more experienced and altruistic guidance.

    How is the country going to progress when just one person who is eager to help and guide cannot even communicate.

    A start needs to be made and I am sure there are many who would like to help with great ideas, experience and even cash. What is needed is the practical person who is able and willing to put it into action.

  2. What a well written piece, a precise articulation of the current state of a poverty depleted populace. You are absolutely right, “You cannot kill a dead person.” Once the subconscious overrides consciousness itself, a matter of self defeat is imminent. It is merely the physical that prolong to exist in its own hollow entity.

    It seems to me that there are deep rooted issues that the populace is faced with. After 18 years of being away (due to the fact that most of my upbringing took place abroad), I recently spent time in our beloved nation.

    Aside from dealing with corrupt government and public institutions, in an attempt to pursue an ultimately failed business venture, I noticed something more striking. I noticed that there was a stigma that came with asking questions. I’m speaking of the most fundamental questions.

    Its as if asking questions was equivalent to social prosecution. It was something I struggled with immensely during my time there. It’s difficult to get answers when asking questions.

    Here is the thing. The younger generation need guidance. That is our only hope for a better tomorrow. I don’t know if we can put trust in our elders any longer. They are too stuck in their ways. I’m sorry to say this, but they have betrayed us for far too long. The vicious cycle must stop. If not for us, at least for them, the young ones, they deserve better.

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