Sierra Leone – moral corruption more destructive than financial corruption

Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 22 August 2016

Poverty in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

You know something, while the chatter all across the country – on shop floors, in markets, within business circles, and in classrooms and beer parlours as well as gatherings of compatriots in the Diaspora, is about the current state of Sierra Leone, I have come to an inescapable conclusion that for whatever reasons, politics has turned us all to China phones that only make unnecessary noise.

Frankly, in the midst of our existential crisis, which has given rise to a warped value system, colossal waste and greed, an increasing crime rate fuelled by youth unemployment, economic strangulation and dire financial situation, politics is important, but it should not be at the expense of the survival of the country.

President koroma and victor foh at APC conference 30 april 2015It is very important for each and every one of us, including those al­mighty politicians – current and aspiring, who domi­nate our political arena, riding roughshod over us in the mistaken belief that they are demi-gods, that if the country collapses like in 1991,  politics itself would no longer exist.

It is essential for us all, who tend to lend our support to some of the glaring atrocities that have turned the country into a hellish hole, to remember that what is going on in our collective subconscious mind as a society – materialism, preoccupation with immediate gratification and frustration, intolerance etc., are very well articulated and robust, and are manifested in our current rot.

As things stand now, the brew is steaming up, simply because our political elite have perfected the art of diverting our attention from serious developmental defects, to mundane matters that border on their personal interest, but which are given patriotic colouration. They are like Dracula running the blood bank.

They’ve infected us all with that acute mental state in which they set out in an idealistic fashion to recreate our world in their own image.

This explains why their chief focus is to eliminate all those assumed to be standing in the way of their hallucination, no matter whether those mavericks are right or not.  It is why, not once have those who rule and are called apostles of change, said sorry for the glaring mistakes or glaring incompetence that have added to our national pains.

Anyway, my belief is that we need to forget all the break, cast a new pair of eyes over the landscape and come up with innovative new solutions based on actual needs, materially and psychologically, to appease in particular the sociology of the majority of those with low income and our society in general.

Honestly speaking, our inability to put aside partisanship in the truthful analysis of where exactly we find ourselves, is one of the main reasons why Sierra Leone is now impotent, unfocussed and virtually comatose.

There is an urgent need to reverse the course of events. To be able to do this however, there is the need for everyone to come together and be more candid about the mess in the country, which is increasingly showing up in the degree of public disenchantment and suppressed anger.

That’s what is missing. Daunting it may appear from personal perspectives, but nonetheless possible.

We have not declined our rate of growth; the reality is that we have not been growing at all for a while. We have been relying on data that are fraudulent and not a proper reflection of economic realities, to dictate our existence – frozen in time.

But it is radicalism, not incrementalism that is the path to our salvation. We need to change our mindset, retool and begin to innovate and motivate our people to free and exploit the energies inside our huge resource-based nation and society.

Why would those who have bled the nation dry expend their loot on projects such as palatial mansions of little value to the generality of the people; or on shopping malls which are filled with imports costing the nation huge fortunes in foreign exchange, yet there are no manufacturing companies to reduce our dependency on goods from abroad?

Unfortunately, one of the most debilitating thing about us as a people now, is that we seem to have this notorious backward mentality of our ability to acquire and maintain meaningful perceptions in an apparently chaotic world.

Rioting in kabala2Our world continues to collapse at a very scary, frenetic pace; but we prefer to align with political partisanship and become sentries and collaborators. The situation is made worse by the fact that it is virtually impossible to get to the bottom of issues, due to the lack of trust that pervades our warped society. See what is happening in Kabala. Some other areas are warming up for similar display of anger.

To make the matter worse, the fourth estate of the realm (the media) is impotent, or so laden with hatchet men or desperadoes that are so jaundiced and lazy, that they end up being the megaphone of those we intend to bring to justice.

They are so impervious to the misdemeanours of those who are ruining us, that they simply feed an educationally-famished populace with reports straight from the mouths of those who have a stake in the narrative, as opposed to conducting impartial investigations.

Our Judiciary is worse than a very bad joke these days, that in their macabre dance, its silken culprits spew judgements that are difficult not to link with political interference from the highest quarters.

Our ministers look like a shower of bickering incompetents, whose brains are in the pockets of the President and cannot resign even if they disagree with what is definitely not in the national interest.

Surrounded by barbed wires, our elites live in private prisons they call homes. We go to our disease filled slaughterhouses we call hospitals. We drive on death traps we call roads. We send our children to our mediocrity-grooming centres we call university, and yet today, those kids have lost every value of integrity because of lack of role models and world class standards.

grand corruption in africaWe start our weeks and weekends in motivation-speech centres and incantation brain-washing houses called churches and mosques. Yet, corruption is woven into every fabric of our society, including these sectors that are the haughtiest in condemning the plague.

Most of those dealers, opportunists, and visionless carpetbaggers with nauseating inclinations for banditry who loot the commonwealth without thoughts of the country and its future, are most prominent in these assembly of “inspirito heaveno, Alleluia or Allahu wakuba”

We have lost something big in our once glorious society and current events only reiterate how far down the gutter we have gone.  Hence, I recommend an emergency surgery to remedy the bad situation.

Our present circumstances should prick our consciences and force us to start a serious re-awakening of the anti-corruption and anti-impunity crusade, starting with ourselves, our homes and neighbours.

For our collective survival, it is not too late to start fighting these monsters from the self. Hope is an expectation; it has to lead somewhere.

We all know that today, despite several promises and assurances; massaged statistics and fraudulent data, we flutter in the gloom of our predicament; hunger reigns across the land and poverty is written in the faces of many of our compatriots who are emaciated and sick of undisclosed sicknesses. Many have gone; and many are about to die.

Vultures circle the carcasses of our nation which has been butchered by our leaders. Our beloved nation is now a distant land to many of its citizens. I do not know when we lost it, but I know the country was not always this far away from the people.

No. I tell a lie. It is decades of deliberate malformation that has left Sierra Leone a victim and every sector a mis-shaped space infected by virulent strains of corruption, ethical pollution, violence and ethnic prejudice.

Yet, those who fill the seats, in the easily-pleased studio-audience of our type of politics, fail to appreciate the ‘facts-behind-the-figures’ situation of life in our society today, which are evidently the true reflections of our attitudes, choices and chivalrous pursuits as parents, as teachers, mentors and politicians.

Across board, the crave for instant gratification and evil manoeuvres, as well as hypocrisy and deceit, has become the diet at the centre of our existence. Our whole system – social, political and economic as well as religious, is corrupt.

Indeed, there was a country once, it was known as Sierra Leone… far different from the cants and humbugs we see parading on our socio-cultural space of today.

Together, because we have refused to learn from past mistakes but simply excuse them, we are now nothing but an ideologically and intellectually lazy set of Homo sapiens who have allowed mediocrity to become our gauge; complacency our response to injustice; selfishness our platform of operation and dishonesty our currency of discourse.

As a result of all these, we are too afraid to confront our exploiters even though we are aware that these fraudulent harems of strange bed fellows are the ones responsible for our having hit rock bottom. We allow these evil and vile men to steal from us, while we give them accolades because of the blood money and blood food they want us to eat with them.

The mistake we are making is that we glorify and idolize evil doers because they have money. We respect evil because of the financial gains we hope to get from there. And the moment we have a moral awakening to condemn these bloody hands, the better.

We hide under the guise of apparent comfort, ethnicity, party loyalty and religiosity and refuse to acknowledge reality. Instead we pretend that they don’t exist or could be wished away like a bad dream.

Having given our family heirloom away cheaply without anything to show for it; and having squandered the gifts showered on us to help us to our feet after we chose the way of madness, we now blame everything except ourselves for the fate that befalls us. The latest being Ebola and the global economic slump.

Pray; since when has it stopped being the government’s job to have a permanent process for identifying and positioning the nation for the season of plenty and the period of farming? Our political elites have lacked even the will to save a few pennies for a stormy day. Yet, their pockets bulge.

That our economy would have reached the sky and the fantasy island that was envisaged is irrelevant. What has happened has happened. Clearly, our failure to build in the time of plenty has exposed us to the infectious economic and social diseases we are battling with today – stagnating in a permanent state of mediocrity and un-progress.

It seems that there is no hope of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel as the day progresses. Look around you, bro. That’s not prediction, but description.

There is the need for all the elites to have a change of heart and begin to think of what ways they can turn around Sierra Leone. Collectively, it is high time we began to think of how this country can be preserved. We’ve allowed evil to flourish and then wonder why the country cannot develop.

How do we collectively lift ourselves psychologically and economically within the shortest possible period? That’s what leadership should be tangoing with. That’s what patriots should be fighting for. Not grandiose projects and cheap propaganda. Not just mere wishful thinking.

Our mindset as a people and a government should be consumed by a passion for socio-political and economic development, as well as appreciate that the earlier we confront the latent issues in every sphere of our existence and influence, the better for us.

Rather than the defeatist and unwise attitude of playing the ostrich, there is an urgent need to start the fight from deep within our very soul and the heart of the nation. Moral corruption is worse than financial corruption.

It is unfair to keep telling those battered by the present economic hardship in our country and who cannot sleep at night because all the organs in their digestive system cry, due to hunger, that things will turn around within the next two years before this government takes a bow.

Please help me: Where is the plan? Where is the strategy? Where are the timelines setting out proposals for addressing our main issues and other deep challenges? What is the strategy for creating jobs and growing the economy? The bitter truth is that the money is simply not there and we are hoping that our begging bowls will bring about bountiful harvests.

Victor Foh and President Xi Jinping of ChinaDo you know why despite the massive infrastructure building programme, unprecedented in our history, the unemployment rate is still sky high? Because the Chinese and other foreign organisations allegedly helping us out, are the ones taking the jobs, with the barest of local contributions and dictating what happens. Well, their programme is not meant to be economically beneficial to us anyway. (Photo: Vice president Foh and China’s premier).

In other climes, such as Dubai, Brazil etc. such massive injection of funds into infrastructural development resulted in massive job creation and a fillip for the economy. Despite all the overtures to any and every Tom, Dick and Harry in the past eight years, our cupboards are very, very bare. The question is why is this so?

To prove that love is not the propelling factor, none of those who have come in, have bothered to take on investments, such as industrialisation, that are immediately needed but which if properly planned and structured, take a long term to yield dividends to them.

Our lazy dependence on simply allowing anyone to dig up our ground and send the resources  abroad to process, with no value added and very minimal benefit to us as a nation.

What a shame that one cannot even visit his or her own country for more than a mere few weeks before yearning to get outta there,  to a more comfortable and peaceful environment; that which God himself has promised us.

As it is today, the party is over and the reality is that Sierra Leone is simply eagerly waiting for the undertakers. We are too deep in a mess and in too critical a condition that our saving grace is the type of introspection that will help us not to be hypocrites and removed from the tainted moral and character flaws fuelling our societal decadence.

The challenge in our conundrum is knowing how to maintain a balance between transparencies in our conducts, and standing against blatant disregard for the rule of law and sense of decency by the people in power.

I think we can only undo the evil by first accepting that our ways are mortally flawed. This we continually fail to do. We generally point at the elusive “they” for all our woes, whereas we’re responsible in our respective little bad ways, such as blind loyalty to mediocrity.

Change of heart is what we must do even though the government and its operators have a lead role to play.

We collectively just pay lip service to good ideals. Ironically, we generally drool over countries that took great pains over decades to create and run orderly and so successful. We have to undo this evil – one way or the other. Some people have to stand up for the emancipation of our people for a new Sierra Leone.

How do we get it back? There has to be nucleus of change – men and women willing to lay down their lives for the change. It will not be easy, because the vultures will not let go easily. But that change has to come.

What we need here is collective self-examination of consciences. There should be the overall realisation that our leaders are only bred by a citizenry soaked in lawlessness and corruption, and it is the society itself that has evolved a very flawed culture and mentality

But we can’t all just watch or run away – yeah me included!

This is the crux of the matter. Without such recognition and a determined effort to appreciate our own contribution or inaction to the nation’s moral, political and economic bankruptcy, do you have confidence in the future of Sierra Leone?

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