Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 December 2015
I am aware that most readers are busy recovering from the weekend’s festivities and thinking of the merriment to usher out our annus horribilis – 2015.
Either in marking the two celebrations and in welcoming 2016 in particular, you must have heard or will be inundated by statements harping the virtues of the reason for the season, as well as the hope in the womb of the New Year from our religious and political leaders.
From President Koroma to populist demagogues like Maada Bio and flavour-of-the-month Kandeh Yumkella, as well as other possible presidential job-seekers such as Allie Kabbah, that have heightened the political circus in the country after Ebola and who believe that they can change the political thermostat, all have something to either admonish us with or shower wild populism to make us feel good about ourselves.
But the truth is that their homilies would lack the power of conviction, as it has become obvious that such rallying cries are rituals of deceit, with meaningless incantations to make those who utter them, look fit and proper for the role of high priests that they lay claim to.
It is a ventriloquist’s dummy. Such platitudes are beginning to ring pathetically false and are fast becoming an insult to the intelligence of the populace. They deserve incendiary status.
Anyway, as 2015 passes into the realm of all our yesterdays, the year showed that the current crop of politicians lack principles, are deficient in honour and unacceptably poor in integrity, which is why we continue to slide down the Richter scale of development.
They are now peacocks without beauty, who have bastardised and prostituted all the illustrious ideals of democracy and the dreams of those who truly wish the country well.
No doubt, the outgoing year has been grim, morally disorientating and revealed that the oxygen of fame more than anything else, is what the administration of President Koroma craves most, as it continues to dance to the tune of gargantuan deception, so absurd as to be unbelievable.
If our situation has not been so serious, the whole thing, especially with the latest bigamy comedy and the Musa Tarawalie corruption off-shoot, would have been extremely hilarious.
2015 with its darkness and sorrow, was indeed a year which traumatised our hopes and expectations. It is about to end with old and new change-messengers, proclaiming their invincibility as they step up their politics of stomach-infrastructure, rather than true social re-engineering.
Although there have been several threats to turn promise into substance in the past eight years, we can see as Ebola heads off into the twilight and 2015 gets ready to take a bow, that the situation today is not rosy, neither is tomorrow – nay 2016, holding out too much of a hope. We are stuck between darkness and light.
At the inception of this government, the vuvuzela was about clearing the impact of the hopelessness of the Tejan Kabbah-led SLPP administration and making Sierra Leone an El-Dorado. Failure to do that was smothered by the noise of ‘the widespread provision of light, roads, and other infrastructures’.
A national schizophrenia over agenda for change and prosperity gave us a grotesque ideology and made us all wallow in hypocrisy-pornography and an orgy of deceit. The failure of the agenda is traceable to the refusal of the people to endorse a charter of values that is not matched by a credible mechanism as well as the lack of a leadership that will identify and address abuses.
It became a repetitive rhetoric the moment the populace realised that it was nothing but a manifesto for cheap popular activism.
Today, the excuse for the absence of a well-defined direction of the government as well as evidence of sustained progress and achievement of set objectives, along with proof of bridging the chasm and inequality in the society, is a convoluted submission of platitudes that expose the inherent shallowness of those in power and their blame game.
Thank you 2015 for disrobing our falsehood further. Even as it becomes obvious that the nation’s problems which have left a trail of destruction and death in its wake, are not about to end soon, what some in the corridors of power and their acolytes would want us to believe and accept, is that debilitating events such as Ebola, more than their incompetence, greed and maladministration, are solely responsible for the juddering halt of national socio-political and economic life.
Despite the fact that selling our very soul and inheritance to foreign financial devils has not released our shackles, but has instead ended up digging our graves deeper, 2015 further revealed that the utterly doolally way of thinking by our leaders have reached a new level of lunacy.
It is clear to everyone except those who are feeding fat on such handouts, that development aid coming from these ‘benefactor’ countries doesn’t inflow the much-needed foreign exchange and economic catalysts.
Truth is that change, is not easy. However, the danger inherent in the attitude of our leaders, both new and old is that it gives them the leeway to continue giving excuses that majority of the gullible percentage of the population will have sympathy with, as fresh challenges and issues continue to emerge to test their managerial capability.
If you want to know, Sierra Leone has no business being poor. But when you are led by people who don’t know what the question is, they cannot give you the right answers.
This is why our leaders continue to depend on ‘knowledgeable people’ from other parts of the world -IMF, CHINA, etc., whose prescription and medicines not only fuel kleptocracy, but also glorifies mediocrity and ensures that the politics of self-interest trumps the politics of public interests.
As a result, we do not have control over our resources, and even as we huff and puff with begging bowls in our hands, asking for a few crumbs from those who continue to feed on our carcass, our leaders refuse to take us into confidence to explain that our economy is in dire straits and embedded in an orgy of sleaze. Those eyeing their seats are also serving us their own version of the fantasy buffet.
Yet, people out there in the real world of desperation, who have been told falsely that we are on the right train and going the right way, are getting hurt by the economic crunch. They are dying from the lack of facilities that should be keeping them alive.
Still, the government displays worrying signs of knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing. And the coming usurpers are toeing the same line unwittingly.
As the tail end of 2015 disappears like a fox down the rabbit hole, the year has exposed the calculating superficiality of our greed-casino and the determination of a segment of our political class to suck us back into primitive swamp.
It has also shown the cluelessness of our leaders, whose over-dependence on foreign human and financial resources is a lifetime recipe for debt burden on future generations, for projects that benefits a tiny few with soiled hands.
Our skewed society bears the brunt of the inability of the leadership and to an extent its followership, to carry out the required moral sanitation. It is why 2015 has brought out several repugnant incidents, including the one in which our ‘plastic’ VeePee showered angry sparks upon those combustible patches of our political terrain.
This is despite the administration of which he is a part and parcel, gifting most of the family silver from that part of the nation to foreigners, relatives and other grateful beneficiaries, who loot our commonwealth and rape our future.
How about the increasing lunacy of the police who display grotesque mediocrity and impunity, to play a hero’s role to their pay masters, in an atmosphere that is bubbling corrosively and awaiting ignition?
When they say a leaf is dancing on water, don’t look too far, the drummer is lurking nearby.
I’m talking about that supposedly national institution whose hierarchy have turned themselves into hired assassins of free speech and democracy.
They have sold their souls to become the personal guards of the President and the ruling party, against the rest of a sane society.
2015 undressed the shallowness of the intelligence of the megalomaniacs and self-serving hierarchy of the force and exposed which agenda is really being implemented for the country – the voice of Jacob but the hand of Esau.
Meanwhile, let me ask: Has the life of the average citizen or even that of the thousands of policemen and women used as attacking dogs, really improved? Have jobs been created for the citizens to generate sources of incomes to raise their standard of living?
Are most of our communities that have not only become the headquarters of misery, but have suffered years of neglect and betrayal by those who promised them heaven and earth for their votes, any better now than before the advent of the Agenda for Change and Prosperity?
Several years after the pledge to liberate the nation from the continuing bondage of poverty and deprivation, why is Sierra Leone still one of the most unequal and backward nation on earth? Why is genuine progress a perpetual struggle? Why is poverty still prevalent in the midst of plenty?
Why are we still struggling against the wind, despite the howls of conviction from the government, which appear to be nothing but the frustrated soundtrack of a doomed crusade at restoration and transformation?
The highest mountain in life is the mountain of ignorance. Can’t you see how ignorance is dancing with us and mocking us at the same time? We will continue to commit national suicide as long as we refuse to redress our ways of hypocrisy, blatant deceit and utter selfishness.
With several political, legislative and judicial rascals drinking from the saloon of greed, the government and its toothless bulldogs, led by the Anti-Corruption Commission, occasionally dazzle with their macabre dance of ferociousness against kleptomania, in what amounts to nothing but a display of moral perversion, which has defined this administration as the child of sin.
Till date, only a few of the big masquerades have made an appearance in the market square of justice, despite 2015 further revealing the tip of the iceberg of rot and sluice in high places and the society in general. There is definitely no virgin in the maternity ward of the government.
The air around the corridors of power reeks, because of the absence of effectual leadership at the top and the ignoble events that surround the veneer of our governance, where warped individuals are bent on punctuating our collective journey to prosperity to satiate their own greed and venality.
So if indeed we are desirous of a new nation and determined to overcome the stark realities of our troubles as exposed by 2015, not only do we need to accept that we have a problem, but rather we have to summon the political will to change and be truthful to ourselves, individually and collectively.
I’ve noticed that what comes less naturally, is blaming ourselves for the level of the mismatch and the structure of our socio-political and economic growth. It is difficult for us to accept our culpability for some of the missing factors that our leaders have exploited, and the distortion of truth that we find more palatable.
Rather than accept that we have also failed in our role as followers to ensure that those we entrusted with power positively strengthen the administrative pillars of our dear nation, we shrug our shoulders and watch the drama of impunity and the award of Oscars for the tomfoolery playing out in the very heart of our nation.
Without realising it, our hopes continue to be deferred and expectations turn to ashes simply because we continue to grow briers and thorns which we hope to harvest as wheat and not tares.
Little wonder that the prayers of those who are the victims of our political charade that has brought sorrow, tears and blood to the majority, is that if the beautiful ones are still in the embryo, may God let them be born quickly to stop the numerous anti-Christ – old and new, that are now soiling the political landscape.
The overwhelming evidence of perfidy in our political sphere befuddles the mind. The idea of the giant strides in governance being made by the government is a self-delusion, and the earlier those in power are told so, the better for the country.
We must stop building an empire of deceit which has all the transparency of a tight plasas. It has proved to be a monument to futility.
Believe me, with the SLPP now a party that is hell-bent on being consigned to the recycling bin of history, unless there is a meaningful collective opposition to everything that the current set-up represents, I cannot see the buds of our desired changes emerging in 2016.
It’s going to take something of a political earthquake for the metamorphosis of our democracy and society from mediocrity to modernity to take place.
As we face the grim realities of our stunted growth and the absence of true progress, my heart boils when I read and watch the new breed, who are meant to come up with ideas to redefine our economic, social and political landscape, strut around the land, emboldened by the current failures but unable to change the tune of the music of our future.
Power, more than service, appears to be the unseen hand striking the drums of their message. Offensive charm, muscle-flexing and rhetoric, remain the sound emanating from their camps. Their mien and disposition are still very much leaning towards patronage politics that has had a corrosive effect on our polity.
Most of those shouting from the rooftop now about their ability to ensure a tectonic shift from the current perjury, lack of direction and oppressive sustenance of the age-long debilitating governance, are also into politics for material benefits.
They are ill-prepared for the position and responsibility that go with the determined effort to drag Sierra Leone screaming into the 21st century.
It is why they never come out and tell us to our face what they want to do about the condition of our people. It is why policies are secondary to their personalities, and they will rather join in the endowed culture of pitch-fork fighting and character-lynching that forms the bedrock of our society.
But they are not to blame, because as a first rule of survival, they have realised that they have to feed our collective admiration and acceptance of such deception that has fuelled our backwardness.
2015 leaves, having shown by the constitutional crisis that we have no truly democratic nation yet, even though the future is more relevant than the spoils of the past and the present, which those at the top find more attractive.
When would our naïve politicians ever learn from their serial mistakes and passions?
The silence of the legislature in the course of the saga is also indicative of the failure of our lawmakers to the reality that whether they like it or not, 2015 is the womb of a new dawn and most of them would pay sooner or later for putting the whims of an individual above that of the nation.
By their collusion with the judiciary in the face of blatant tyranny to the premeditated and lethal slaughter of the values of democracy, they succeeded in dragging us back to the primitive age.
That is a present from 2015 which the uninformed individuals need to appreciate. It has strengthened the fact that we are a spineless people, weak in character, opportunistic in disposition and cowardly against evil. Our main hindrance to development is ourselves.
Yet, we as a people, despite all these negatives, have to decide and take 2016 by the horn; make the necessary sacrifice and invest in our future. The present scenario might seem to be encouraging cynicism about politics and true change for a better tomorrow, but it is in this environment that our leaders are born.
If in 2016, we can learn how to say a defiant NO to tyranny and the despotic scoundrels that make up the political class, as well as their acts of rhetorical deception, then we can be rest assured that our dry bones could still rise again.
First and foremost, I would like to clarify a few things:
1. None of the parties has elected a flagbearer. So it would be improper for me to therefore make individual assessments on them with regards to the hard facts available to me. And there are facts on what makes some of them suitable or otherwise.
2. My musing is not personal. It is an observation and opinion formed from the reality. For example, how many of the leaders that are out now, made statements of succour at the height of Ebola? Today, they have so much compassion to offer the suffering masses who have been abandoned for so long.
3. Yumkella and Kabba may have good professional track records or even may have been terrific anti tyranny fighters in the past. It does not mean that’ll translate into splendid political record. politics in our clime is a different ball game. And this is why they are reliant on the same discredited structure in existence to realise their ambitions, rather than set the moral tone for a fresh start.
We’ve had the likes of Hindolo who benefitted from the student agitation and dynamism of that era but ended up a disappointment. There are others
My brother of blessed memory, Olu Gordon, also agreed with me the errors of his ways in his implicit trust in some of those who are now riding high as well as his ‘unfortunate’ involvement with the establishment. When the time is right, some of these facts would be made available.
4. At the appropriate time, I’m sure the people of Sierra Leone will give who ever is chosen, especially Yumkella that Alan Luke talks about. I am delighted that he appreciates the fact that we have had so many false dawns and it would therefore be foolhardy to remain in the same dementia saloon and not be sceptic about any claimant.
It is left to Yumkella and his foot soldiers to inspire the confidence that will give him his party’s ticket and also arrest the trust of the majority of Sierra Leoneans, if he wins. By being in the same boat with Bio, he gave the room for him to be tarred with the same brush. Remember that some of those who cannot make the kind of informed decision that Alan wants will only see candidates from ‘their’ party.
His campaign might be about hope but the rest – opportunity and transformation – still reside in the realm of conjecture. Global recognition does not in any way translate into an ability to be able to face local realities; given several inherent social and political factors that will come into play.
As of now, Yumkella, like Kabba and Bio as well as others who have declared their interests are equal potentials and is therefore being treated as such. Doing otherwise will negate my principled stand on neautrality. Some of them may cause bile to spew out of some mouths but unfortunately that is why the whole system and society needs reform to prevent charlatans carrying the banner of equality.
Like I said, in the past, we used to run after thieves. Today they are the lords and we hail them.
I honestly appreciate the comments made by everyone, including those who have met me privately.
Who has really got the vision to remake our world in Sierra Leone? That is the million Leone question.
So far, what I have written is my perception of what is happening. I am too long in the tooth to think everyone would agree. I am more interested in the national cause to also pass off personal opinion in trying to shape thoughts when all it will do is put people off. THE TRUTH WILL BE TOLD.
I would appreciate if acolytes of those who disagree convince me otherwise. I learn everyday especially after several political and democratic experiences have further confirmed to me that things are never what they say on the tin.
Having experienced that, I will not want the masses and even those who are being swayed by political, religious and ethnic sentiments to also fall victims unwittingly.
Thank you for your long essay. Now if I may ask, what do you think you and us should do to help the situation? I am just a Sierra Leonean belonging to political party.
You write like a man of God and that is why am interested. I LOVE my County very much my brother, that is why if I see anyone going in that direction, I would like to be a part of it.
God bless Mama Salone and the people. God bless you.
I do enjoy Awoonor’s random musings, and the watch word here is that they are nothing but random musings as he himself says. But when random musings are peddled as facts, some of us get twitchy.
What I want to know from Awoonor having read this his latest article, is how he arrived at the assertion that those wanting to contest the presidential election, including opposition SLPP candidates in 2017, are all up to no good.
In particular I am very curious about this statement in his article: “But the truth is that their homilies would lack the power of conviction, as it has become obvious that such rallying cries are rituals of deceit, with meaningless incantations to make those who utter them, look fit and proper for the role of high priests that they lay claim to.”
How do you know this to be true Mr Gordon, I wonder. What do you base this assertion on? Can you please shed some light?
From what many of us here know about the likes of Alie Kabba and Kandeh Yumkella in particular, these guys have a good professional track record, at least better than most of the potential candidates in the APC who have proved to be corrupt and inept.
By bravely and openly criticising the government of president Koroma as corrupt and inept, publicly right here in Freetown and then to be arrested by Koroma’s thugs, shows that Alie kabba is an honest and fearless leader many would like to see in power in Sierra Leone.
I take my hat off to Alie Kabba. We need leaders like him, not like some hypocritical opposition candidates like Bio, who go to State House to make deals with president Koroma to cover their ugly rear.
For most Sierra Leoneans here in the country that are looking for facts with which we can assess all of the potential contestants, it is important to get the truth from writers like yourself Awoonor. Please if you can help us with evidence. Thank you Sir.
May the Lord be with you and bless you. May His face shine on you and give you peace. Amen
Raymond – unfortunately “None of the Above” will not be contesting the 2017 elections. Therefore we need to look at the candidates who are coming forward to contest for the elections and challenge each and every one to outline their policies for governance and critically how they are going to finance these policies, as well as change the rotten state of our country and root out corruption.
As a declared KKY supporter, I would say that the fact that Kandeh Yumkella has been faced with so much opposition from the APC and from within the SLPP, would suggest that our political elites within both parties are worried about what he represents and would try to stop him at all costs.
To my mind, this and the absence of any credible allegation against Kandeh Yumkella during his tenure as a Minister of Trade in 1994-95 and during an illustrious career in the UN demands that the people of Sierra Leone should give him a fair hearing and then make up their minds about him.
I do not believe or accept that Kandeh Yumkella has done anything to merit the same association with the rag tags in the APC or Julius Maada Bio.
During his tour of Sierra Leone, we have seen thousands come out to listen to him. What his campaign also needs is for well meaning Sierra Leoneans, including our intellectuals, professionals and hard working people with integrity to throw their weight behind his campaign.
Sierra Leone’s intelligentia cannot afford to continue to withdraw from public engagement and only criticise. They have to become engaged, because when they do not, all the worst elements of our society capture positions of significance and would become a millstone around the neck of a credible candidate as Kandeh Yumkella, if well meaning Sierra Leone with the right knowledge, experience and skills sit on their sun loungers.
Unfortunately, we have had many many false dawn, but change can only come through political means and there is nothing to be gained from demonising all, in an attempt to demonstrate impartiality.
Kandeh Yumkella and Julius Maada Bio are not cut from the same cloth and there is no association between the two, other than their respective campaigns for the flagbearership of the SLPP.
Julius Maada Bio has not just a cupboard, but a house full of skeletons and its stench can be felt for a thousand miles. We cannot disparage Kandeh Yumkella, when his leadership, integrity and honesty is being acknowledged by the international community.
Part of our problem is the massive drain of our educated citizens during the 1980s, 1990s and 2000. What Kandeh Yumkella represents is an opportunity to inspire confidence in those who have long left Sa Lone’s shores to return. Kandeh Yumkella on his own will not solve Sa Lone’s problems, nor would any other candidate.
The difference, is that other campaigns are about maintaining the status quo, where Kandeh Yumkella’s is about Hope, Opportunity and Transformation.
KKY (UK&I) Communications Team