28 December 2011
Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon
Before some faces turn angrier than a cobbler’s thumb at the statement above, let me first wish all of you a happy new year in advance.
The start of the coming year will as usual be marked by the customary back-slapping and gratitude for seeing the commencement of another brand new three hundred and sixty six days (yes, it’s a leap year) and rounded off with our leaders telling us to be grateful for what we have; especially how much they have made our lives better than they met it.
Traditionally the New Year is also time for resolutions. I believe that collectively, we as a people should not only endeavour to make one in the coming year but to take a decision that will assiduously be entrenched in every aspect of our existence and national psyche.
Because today the government has all the appeal of a Christmas left-over plasas; following what appears to be its bile and contempt for people’s feelings; for their rights as fellow citizens and for their demand for a moral compass and the palliatives for their head and heart aches.
I believe that it is unfair for the masses to keep on dying while our leaders carry on lying to us and playing politics with our future. Their pretentious, hypocritical and egoistical mask of muttons dressed as lambs has exposed the leadership character flaws of most of our ‘heroes’.
As I reflected on the events of the past year and especially developments in the past few months, one thing that came to mind was the lone voice crying in the wilderness of our broken, bruised and battered society – the LOVE CAMPAIGN by Dr. Tillie Bell.
While his central theme has been the exploitation of one another in our society, it occurred to me that the root cause of the absence of love and the fertiliser for the exploitation, is simply the culture of impunity that pervades every strata of our society. (This will be subject of another piece).
We don’t care if our leaders exploit us and they don’t give a hoot if they do either. We do not even know that we have a right to certain necessities of life and therefore it does not matter whether they are provided by government or not; or whether we are reminded to be eternally grateful for the crumbs; even when our eyes are blurred by tears of hunger.
As a people, we simply trudge on and strive to make the best out of a bad situation. That is why we do not question the actions of government beyond feeling occasional discomfort and expressing fleeting worries at times such as when we have distractions like the Cocaine Planes that are becoming a feature of our landscape and Nollywood blockbusters like ‘Timbergate’.
Years of dehumanising and sub-standard existence have left us without the will to assess situations and ask probing questions. We have become a makeshift people that are easily manipulated by our leaders and we simply flow with the tide of the day without abiding standards.
So what do we have? A stalemate. Sierra Leone ends up suffering for it and progress stalls.
As our leaders display their hide of a rhino to the growing frustrations among the people, they have turned the populace into the best looking pig in the slaughter house.
There is a huge canyon separating what we have and what we as a people, are praying for; as well as a world of difference between the promises with which we were lured and the fulfilments we’ve experienced.
Our leaders who have now become deaf and dumb to the wailings and demands of the oppressed majority and who see their legitimate clamour for fundamental change as the rantings of some disgruntled ants; are the same ones who came on their knees a little over four years ago to beg for the votes of the people.
Today, they listen more to foreign masters and opportunistic money bags, who do not know or care about where the shoes pinches Sierra Leoneans. Their pockets jangling with twelve pieces of silver like Judas, those who lead us have been forced to shove their crude and cruel policies down our cracked throats, without a care whether it snuffs the life out of the same people they swore to protect. They are happy and their benefactors are delighted as they cart away our heritage and resources.
As they swim in the cesspit of graft, their promise of heaven on earth consigned to the dustbin, they insist that it is their will rather than our wants that must prevail and they won’t be swayed otherwise.
Assessing the broken vehicle of our aspirations as the pivotal year of 2012 rolls in, there is a need to drag our past into the present, for the benefit of our future.
Right now, we often tend to do nothing about some of the outrageous statements and behaviours of those who lead us; about their blatant claims which are not our own realities and about their profound lack of shame and their ability to transform our rich robes into rags while they swap their fig leaves for tunics of many colours.
I hear so many people recalling the good old days when things were cheap and life was grand but what are we willing to give for a revolution that will transform our lives by tapping into those memories which are the storehouses of our heritage and the catalysts for the present; in order to proffer solutions to the challenges facing us and so that we can leave a proud legacy for generations unborn?
2012 therefore presents a golden opportunity for the nation to reflect on its growth and development on the democracy highway in the last five years.
After the initial bravado fuelled by foreign coins, our economy has gone under the deadening grip of inactivity – a tragedy of paralysis. For the entire amount that we spent on the jamborees of investors’ fora, the intense hammering sounds of construction and repair works across the length and breadth of the country are less than the deep snores of our leaders as they sleep off their revelling and cavorting with foreign ‘whores’.
From soaring costs of staple foods to the erratic power supply and the shoddy road works by our benefactors, the much trumpeted and rare diligence, commitment and handwork of President Koroma appear to be lost in the foggy weather above the nation.
The challenges are massive but the stakes are too high for us to fail and this is why we have to decide to make 2012 a threshold year – a year of revolution.
But calm down. I am not advocating a violent revolution – it’s the revolution of our thought process – the revolution of our minds; our society and our ideas.
Let’s change the way we accept the failings of those we elected to drive us to the Promised Land. Let’s change our outlook about giving support for any faults because those involved come from our tribe, our religion or even because they are the same sex or because they brainwashed us.
Let us, for a change, think of the future of the nation and not the immediate benefits accruing to us. Let the house rat hear the clarion call and pass it on to the bush rat that how long shall we continue this way?
The reality today, if we must call a spade by its name, is that more Sierra Leoneans are going to bed on empty stomachs; many have no roofs over their heads. Even with the government’s much vaunted health care programme, many are dying like chickens because they cannot afford the cost. Hopelessness still rules the land.
Many of our fellow citizens live below fifty cents a day and there are those who have not held a ten thousand Leone for a long time now. And this is no exaggeration. It is simply the truth. Many don’t even know where and when the next meal will come.
Amidst this hellish living, a few powerful Sierra Leoneans are erecting so many breath-taking mansions at once and are gliding in eye-popping wonders-on-wheel. They flaunt their wealth everywhere in the face of the majority have-nots, daring them to go to hell and stay there.
To those who hold the cynical view that a revolution is impossible to achieve because we are a docile, lazy, jolly-jolly lot, they underestimate the capacity of the slave to break his chains of bondage.
2012 should be the year that the tears of the proverbial hewers of wood and drawers of water; who are experiencing the worst form of existence in a land that ordinarily should have no business with poverty if not for the thievery of the elite ruling class, are wiped away.
That is why we need to start an enduring social change that will checkmate future foistering of inept leadership on us and give to the people, the power that rightly belongs to them.
2012 should be a happy new year indeed – if we all play our part.
Happy New Year to you all!
May your road in the New Year be ‘rough’ – because it is only then we will arise to the challenges facing us. I am not cursing you; I am only praying a wish!