Times are bleak in Sierra Leone

Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 30 June 2016

President koroma and victor foh at APC conference 30 april 2015

If an idol begins to wield excessive powers, you show it the wood it was carved from.

That is exactly what seventeen million British citizens have demonstrated by their decision to leave the increasingly octopodial, power-grabbing European Union.

Whether their decision is right or wrong, is not my business. Only time will tell.

However, the common refrain from most of the ordinary Brexit supporters that “they (those who hold the reins of power) tell us their opinions, but don’t listen to us. They have no idea what we want” – is what struck me the most.

Let’s not forget that in developed countries, it’s usually a man’s core principle, which is driven by human inner strength, not necessarily charisma, which draws people to him. Once he loses his inner strength and compromises on his core principle, he is only leading, with nobody following. That’s what Brexit clearly showed.

Agreed that severing the head is not the remedy for a migraine headache, the bloody nose for the British government is instructive for African leaders to learn some fundamental truths.

And indeed, our current leaders in Sierra Leone and those gasping to replace them, need to take note.

water crisis in Freetown3The house roof fights the rain, but he who is sheltered generally ignores it. Listening to the true needs of the people is the greatest opportunity to influence the future. It is the key to building a storm shelter for the majority, as against the erection of a palatial edifice for the few, who never walk alone in the rain anyway.

No matter how clever, a man cannot sit down alone to plan for prosperity. The idea in the heads and minds of our leaders that they are the ‘almighty’ with abundance of wisdom is a natural block to constructive development.

It is why presently, we are looking like a confused tourist at the global train station, with no idea which platform we should be on.

A mansion being built by information minister  Kanu. Where did he get the moneyDeception is one thing – self-deception is quite another. Our political class continues to be as contemptible and self-absorbed as ever. All they are interested in is to splash on themselves and to maintain obscenely lavish lifestyle that is nothing but a confirmation of the fact that they are but men and women, who have lost every sense of shame, irony, and proportion.

Despite warnings by those who have not allowed ideological or political sentiments to blinker their eyes, our current demi-gods in the political class appear not to be aware of the fact that anything is amiss for the majority; or realise that a vast bulk of their compatriots have come under the heels of a harshening economic climate.

They cannot see that majority of the people are not only hanging on for dear lives but that every day, the existence of the masses becomes more brutish, nasty and shorter on that lowest rung of the economic and social ladder, where they have been condemned through no fault of theirs.

Hell no. Our leaders do not even know what time it is for the rest of the nation; neither do they realise that if they continue to sacrifice the wealth of the nation for self-aggrandisement or emergency prosperity, as well as the lure of a speculative economic future, we are likely to lose both our national liberty, wealth and resources as well as the future of generations yet unborn.

Mistakes have the power to turn you into something better than you were before. But it appears that in our situation, it is a case where one sees all sorts of knives on the day an elephant dies.Those in power, are the ones leading the procession for the carving out of the body and the draining of the blood of the nation.

For now, we may be helpless and at the mercy of the mesmerising but dysfunctional power-hungry political elite, who are busy savouring their ability to always have one over us, as a result of their grip on our throats. As a matter of fact, they can enjoy their victory today. But tomorrow, their hangover will surely be fierce.

Freetown Street traders4Times are bleak in Sierra Leone. The unlimited promise of our youth has turned into corrosive and corrupting nightmare of our adulthood. What a waste. And to what end? So the shallow can acquire materials they don’t need?

The chameleon that steps gently, dies; how much more the frog that jumps here and there…. Nemesis is nearer than you think.

Yes, there is still hope for a glorious future, but right now, the political class has capitalised on the mental poverty of the masses, entertained and encouraged by focusing on absurd matters to mask their lack of innovation and the inability to reposition Sierra Leone. We’ve lived with this for too long. How long more?

Since there is no recognisable opposition in the country, a development which has given rise to the increasing wave of discontent, it is absolutely important that the voice of those who have turned themselves into resistance, continue to be heard loud and clear, before they become the catalysts for the deliverance of the people who have definitely become Lords of Poverty, in a land flowing with milk and honey.

We would discover that corruption, which has virtually crippled us, is a minute fallout of the mind-bog¬gling desecration of national aspirations and governance. This in turn has unearthed mostly unprincipled men without abiding focus that can create an enabling and enduring system.

minkailu mansarayWe are now in a catch-22 situation. Most government officials won’t empower the average man to monitor their activities, for obvious reasons. Yet, instead of us to be extremely bothered enough to watch politicians closely, we are either compromised or trapped in a cycle of self-hurt by defending the actions of those destroying our country.

We seem to have a default setting in our mentality which leads us in circles and has turned our story of frustration, leaking into disbelief. Without a shadow of doubt, it is us, the generality of the people, whether educated or otherwise, who are guilty of the ultimate dereliction of duty.

Despite our leaders becoming the chip which stayed on black, while the wheel of our national aspirations keeps coming up red, we prefer to leave them to run amok and unopposed.

How can you have growth when a material chunk of your national inflow is looted and hidden away in foreign economies, or sunk locally in idle real estates and peacock assets; and thus, are not available for the economic multiplier effect treatment?

This declaration is of course a blinding glimpse of the obvious. It is why the magic carpet ride has come to shuddering halt.

kroo bay1But wait a minute, what kind of a people would still believe in those who are glaringly stealing from the collective till? What kind of people celebrates a warped leadership, even when the widespread lack of the many is obvious to even a blind man?

What kind of people are so filled with parochial biases that they would not realise that we are giving up ours and our children’s future to local and foreign brigands and common thieves?

Why are those without values, the ones defining us as a nation, while we simply try to exonerate ourselves by turning our noses up and pointingaccusing fingers at others; or opening our mouths and speaking glowingly on behalf of our oppressors?

Something definitely has to change. It’s time to reclaim our country too. It’s time to realise that even though we are being told that the monkey is off our backs, through the token dividends of democracy on offer, the reality is that the circus is still in town.

We, the people, who live and work in every nook and cranny of Sierra Leone, as well as those of us outside who yearn desperately for a return home, can affect the dearly desired change, and we must rise up now to do so.

Are we surprised that year in year out, not much seems to evolve for us as a people or for the nation in the overall? If ‘gangsters’ are expected to take complex policy decisions they care less about or have no clue as to resolve, why are we surprised governance is turned to mugging the masses?

My point is that growth, especially economic, as opposed to biological, does not just happen. It is a product of committed vision and birthed by competence and real performance. All those things have been exiled from Sierra Leone for near on four decades.

And without competence which comes from applying knowledge and experience, you really cannot grow anything, not even cookery business, and definitely not a nation.

There are no shortcuts in real life, but unfortunately, those who are giving a lightning bolt to our future, instead of a tornado, have brain-washed our people into believing otherwise with the delivery of tangibles.

Those magicians who are shouting abracadabra and finding that nothing happens, and that their wand is merely a black and white stick, are content to continue to stitch us up like a badly made cabaslot, rather than reveal the truth of their inability.

british-parliamentPrime Minister Cameron’s action – post-referendum, was described by some as a demonstration of courage by a democratic leader who respects the will of the people, even if he didn’t agree with their decision.

And by “putting the will of the people before his political future, has proved himself to be a selfless leader, with respect for democracy and voters’ sovereignty.’’ Can we truly say that about those we entrust with power in our own domain?

We can easily make the same mistakes over the subject of inclusive growth and national development, the absence of which is understood to be at the heart of our change dilemma.

And truly speaking, one can already see how this can happen, with our thinking and rhetoric veering off decidedly into “inequality” and social protection, all of which are nevertheless valid issues in their own right.

The fact is that muddled thinking and hazy understandings, when inflicted on economic policy, can keep a nation poor when it has no business in the poverty leagues. Herein lies the conundrum.

Meanwhile, I have always maintained that for a revolution to even attain the status of hopeful, let alone impending, there has to be a sort of enlightened group in that society, no matter how small, and usually, as small as you think.

I’m not talking about an educated elite, I’m talking about anybody, rich, poor, who in some way, is enlightened, and sees what the hell is truly going on.

Without the sustained existence of this enlightened group in the society, there will never be hope for a revolution. Which is why, when I meet someone who has, as they say, knowledge; who knows what the deal is, it does not in any way excite me, or give me hope.

Why am I not encouraged by the finding of like minds? Because it does not mean that a revolution will occur. We’ll just continue to talk about it. Some of us will try, but because we will never have enough support, we will always fail; even though, we need to plod on.

It does not mean the end of a dream, but I’ll love to reach out to others to think and act on a rational and pragmatic basis. It is important to apply wisdom and understanding to our future and avoid the political, economic, ethnic, religious and social mistakes of the past. If not, our David will be the one to create our own Goliath.

It is up to those who believe in justice and fairness, an equitable society and a brighter future, to answer the clarion call against impunity every time such threats rear their heads and to fight for yet more progress, truth and reasonableness in public processes.

The stench that needs cleaning up is deep. The system is a surreal spread of disorder, malady and bewildering ailments. It is up to our leaders to hear. The sound of the coming train is getting louder.

5 Comments

  1. The author is right. The problem with Sierra Leone is the fact that we have a government who is focused more on destroying the nation than building it. And the reason why our governments usually do us more harm than good is because leadership in Sierra Leone is chosen in the worst possible way: “clan based mentality”.

    Ethos like “na this party ar born”, “na me tribe we all two comot”, “ar comot from the north or south, so ar go vote for person way comot from north or south”, and “na Bo school / CKC man”, are placed above integrity, expertise, character and a proven track record of leadership.

    We need to sensitize our people in Krio, Mende, Temne, Limba, Kissi, Loko, Sherbro, etc, on the link between this clan based mentality and their poverty; and leave them to decide if they want to remain in poverty.

    Currently, the government refuses to select the best people for civil servant positions, choosing instead to reward fellow clansmen and sycophants with a PhD in “laybellehism”

  2. Mr. Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon,

    I already have your email address and did receive the article “Vanity Trumps Utility In The Den Of Iniquity,” which you posted on June 19, 2016 at 6:22 pm.

    Please allow me respond to you on The Sierra Leone Telegraph since you are at a loss as to why I have specifically chosen to ask you about Maada Bio and not any other presidential aspirant. And make myself very clear to you on some critical issues, including Leadership of the 21st century in the Land of our birth and origin,

    I am glad for you believing and saying that:

    “Ethical leadership demands that leaders adhere to a strong code and to recognize that they are accountable for their actions, and that ‘no one is above the law’ as well as avoid all conflicts of interest.”

    On June 28, 2016 at 7:00 am, without reading from you, I posted the following which agrees exactly with yours on the Law of the Land:

    “By all indications and means, Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio is guilty of committing BIGAMY- the act of going through a marriage ceremony while ‘already married’ to another person. This is gross rudeness and felonious! And he should be incarcerated for SEVEN good years in accordance with the Laws of Sierra Leone.

    ‘NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW.’

    At this point in time, let the Law take its full course on him without respect of his personality. It’s a crime to aid and abet him in this of his horrible duplicity. Shame on him! Amen.”

    If for nothing else, at the very least, you and I agree on the inviolability and due application of the Law of the Land to everyone without respect and fear of anyone.

    By the way, you and I are two sided of the same coin called CORRUPTION. We all need to call it by name at all times whenever it rears its ugly head among us.

    QUESTION

    In your own opinion, has President Ernest Koroma lived up to the credence of the rule of Law in the country? Absolutely NOT!

    When you say that:

    “As for Maada’s private life, that is exactly what it is ‘private’. I do not think I have a moral right to comment on how he decides to live his life when he might just be an epitome of the moral decadence of our political leadership.

    I do not see him as any different from the current and past political elites. We knew Pa Shaki’s antecedent, Momoh, and even the tales about President Koroma. We cannot be holier than thou in that regard.”

    For your information, and to be honest with you, this is what I told Joe Parson, one reader, on June 24, 2016:

    “Of course, it is your constitutional and legal right to support anyone for the presidency, including rt. brig. Julius Bio.”

    With regards to the upcoming presidential elections in our country, I call on ALL Sierra Leoneans not to vote for Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio simply because his hands are stained with bloodshed, bigamous, adulterous and divorcee.

    Sierra Leone does NOT need another divorcee as President like Idi Amin Dada of Uganda who had “five” wives with 43 children that wreak incredible havoc and chaos in the country from 1971 to 1979.

    “Amin’s rule was characterized by human rights abuses, political repression, ethnic persecution, extrajudicial killings, nepotism, corruption, and gross economic mismanagement. The number of people killed as a result of his regime is estimated by international observers and human rights groups to range from 100,000 to 500,000.”

    See Wikipedia on Idi Amin Dada to verify and confirm this sad information.

    Similarly, Julius Bio’s father, Late Chief Charlie Bio of Tihun village, Sogbeni Chiefdom, Bonthe District, had “nine” wives with 35 children. And at the present moment, Julius Maada Bio has had “two” wives with five children.

    For God sake, where are we heading to?

    “You know what? I now accept that we are indeed a people fixated at oral stage of development. Which is why, we often watch with helpless passivity, the gradual collapse and destruction of sanity and morality, which was once the building block of our nation, and which of course is the building block of any successful nation on earth.”

    See “Maada Bio and the burden of ambition” by Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon, which was published on The Sierra Leone Telegraph on November 5, 2015.

    Please open wide your eyes and see for yourself. Be sensitive to the leading of the Spirit of God and obedient to Him alone in TRUTH. Amen.

  3. Thanks Mustache Moustache for your comment on my piece: “Times are Bleak”. It is quite appreciated.

    However, I am at a loss as to why you’ve specifically chosen to ask me about Maada Bio and not any other presidential aspirant.

    For one I’ve stated often that when the time is right, I’ll comment on individuals but i will not be a megaphone for their ambition at this stage simply because any Sierra Leonean has a right to be ambitious to lead the nation.

    Anyway, I do not see Maada Bio as the issue in the politics of our nation. The fact is that we – the people of Sierra Leone – have chosen to allow him to become the focal point and topic of discussion.

    He is not responsible for our woes. We are. The earlier that we realise that, the better for us as it will allow us to spend time assessing the potentials of everybody in the race and not spend time on an individual.

    I will recommend my piece of 5th November 2015 “Maada and the Burden of Ambition” for answers to some of the questions you’ve asked and kindly ask that you contact me privately through my email, as I do not believe it is healthy for the cause I believe in, to engage in discussions about individuals, on the pages of newspapers or the social media.

    As for Maada’s private life, that is exactly what it is ‘private’. I do not think I have a moral right to comment on how he decides to live his life when he might just be an epitome of the moral decadence of our political leadership.

    I do not see him as any different from the current and past political elites. We knew Pa Shaki’s antecedent, Momoh, and even the tales about President Koroma. We cannot be holier than thou in that regard.

    So please let us not lose focus of what matters most, and the issue at stake. It is Sierra Leone.

    It is the future of our nation that matters most. It is the plight of the majority at this point in time. It is the unborn generations and the legacy that will be passed to them.

    The answer – sound the clarion call. Let the bush rat hear the sound and tell the house rat. Let us leave individuals out of this and teach the people what to look for in the realisation of the vision for a new Sierra Leone.

    With this accomplished, the ordinary mind will be able to ascertain who exactly is fit for purpose and who is not.

    Obviously, everyone believes in someone as being the best. But are we looking through blinkered eyes and sentimental attachment or are we ready to sacrifice friendship, kith and kin as well as prejudices, for the sake of truth and the future of Sierra Leone.

    That is the question. That is the moral reset. That is the hope of a better tomorrow.

    Please feel free to contact me via email if you so desire. awogordon@yahoo.co.uk

    Thanks

  4. This is another eye-opening call from a patriot, like a number of others who are contributing greatly, advocating for good governance to lift Sierra Leone out of the shambles our clueless politicians of the old politics of the APC and SLPP parties, have sunk the country.

    Raymond Dele’s relentless efforts in sensitizing Sierra Leoneans to wake up from slumber and stand up firm to demand for our God’s given rights, to drive our own destiny in the right direction, spearheaded by those we choose to govern us, in free and fair electoral process, free from intimidation and power abuse, and in a civilize political atmosphere.

    With the current set of politicians and their leadership in the helm of governance, Sierra Leone’s future appears bleak and uncertain. The country has been compromised by poor governance and mediocre performance in top government offices, in terms of duty delivery.

    Entrusted with the noble responsibility to steer the destiny of the nation, but have woefully failed to deliver what is expected of them; instead they are engaged in pillaging the wealth of the nation and impoverishing their own people.

    This piece is telling us the truth, the plain truth, and nothing but the whole truth! After reading through this article, one feels compelled to drop a comment.

    This analysis of the present realities and the message that follows it, ought to awaken every Sierra Leonean from their slumber, and those who rest on their laurels.

    We shouldn’t treat this lightly, but to see it as an encouraging motive to question our government and the country’s leadership for their poor performance in duty delivery. And to demonstrate that we are completely disgruntled with the status quo in all aspects of the country.

    Things are not getting any better. Since we gained independence, no remarkable strides in development have been made under any government and leadership. It is just injury upon perjury repeating itself upon the masses of this country.

    Fifty-five years of journey of repeated bad governance of the APC and SLPP, the traditional parties that have invariably dominated power in the country.

    There is no Sierra Leonean with a objective view, who will not attest to these facts. Shall we conform to this? No, No, No! It is time to demonstrate to our governors and leaders that we are non-conformist to the status quo. We want a big change, enough is enough!

    We want a better future for our children and grandchildren, and for posterity. But we cannot achieve this with the current class of politicians who have failed this nation. They are all of the same mindset, inherited from the legacy of their political mentors.

    We want to see new actors on the stage who can fetch new hope to our people. We don’t want to hear the same rhetoric of the past – monotonous messages that lack clarity and substance. We want to screen and analyze politicians’ capability in all aspects and declare them fit by merit, before entrusting them with governance responsibility.

    Please post your comment and be part of a noble crusade for the good of our motherland, MAMA SALONE. Raise your voice and let it be heard loudly, to echo the four corners of the Earth. Do not be indifferent to this.

    Let the conscience of those who have been entrusted with duty and authority to drive the destiny of this nation, but have woefully failed to deliver, due to greed, sleep restlessly by our echo.

  5. Mr. Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon,

    While your article on “Times are bleak in Sierra Leone” is good, however, you failed to mention names of politicians who have and still continue to cocoon us into corrupt practices beyond belief.

    I agree with your brilliant statement that:

    “Yet, instead of us to be extremely bothered enough to watch politicians closely, we are either compromised or trapped in a cycle of self-hurt by defending the actions of those destroying our country.”

    As your fellow Sierra Leonean, let me ask you some few questions as follows, and please be honest with me:

    1. How long have you heard of and known Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio who is contesting the presidency?

    2. Why is Julius Bio restricted and not allowed to travel to the United States of America?

    3. Are you aware of the facts that Julius Bio has “two” wives, namely Francess Bio and Fatima Jabbie Bio? Each
    woman with children for him? (Of him can be said ‘Like father like son.’ For his Late father Chief Charlie Bio
    had “nine” wives with 35 children.)

    4. Given this evidence, is Julius Bio polygamous, bigamous or what?

    5. Is this the adulterous womanizer you would like to see become President of Sierra Leone and occupy State
    House to make it more messy without talking specifically against him?

    But, may the Lord God Almighty forbid that from happening lest our daughters become promiscuous. Amen.

    I am asking simply because he, Julius Bio, seems to be above the Laws of Sierra Leone by boldly breaking them with impunity or carte blanche. Otherwise, he should have been in jail for seven years in accordance with the Laws of Sierra Leone for at least the bigamy charge.

    I don’t blame him, but President Ernest Koroma who is acting unconscionably and very recklessly as the weakest Commander-In-Chief, ever, of the 21st century. He is afraid of Julius Bio, but not Alie Kabba. What a shame.

    God help us! Amen.

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