Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 12 November 2014
Without fear of repetition, one sacred fact which I have continued to stress is that as events continue to prove that our society is not guided by moral and ethical principles anymore, the only and obvious conclusion is that the general outlook is frightening, sad and bad.
Obviously, as a people, the eternal lessons of the signposts that signaled our dark past appear lost in the penchant to twist principle and doctor the truth for individual, ethnic and political gain.
Our various hidden colours which enveloped our greed then, have since continued to undo our collective capacity for critical reflection; so much so that our politicians aided by sycophants hardly see beyond ego and symbolism.
Instead, they hoodwink us into deliberately overlooking the substance of our realities by spinning conspiracy theories that embed injustice, corruption in our governance and undeserved privileges and immunity for themselves.
Unfortunately, with each succeeding abracadabra, the half-life of credulity that the spell casts on a traumatised nation grows shorter.
Even those who have the cognitive ability to objectively reflect on issues, have been sucked into the soap opera. And instead of providing honest insights and solutions to the many problems crippling our country, they have become obsessed with jostling for positions.
And so have they also become obsessed with selfish ethnic and religious fancies; moving from one party to another in search of better and greener pasture, even when it is against the best interest of the generality of the people.
The absence of respectable and sane political voices to contribute their own bit properly for nation building is one other reason good governance has taken flight out of the country, leaving bandits behind to become incredible criminal geniuses.
So with no-one ready to take up the task of building a new nation and to challenge the usurpers who are at the fore front, the foundation of a just and equitable society has continued to be elusive, while power is almost always wielded as a tool of oppression.
Often, puerile logic is used to build haven of succour for those in power, as well as to undermine accountability, rule of law, fairness and justice. Which is why, the false under belly of our government was exposed when the Ebola battle broke out.
To say those in the corridors of power have been squirming with discomfort over this state of affairs is to state the obvious.
For one, the usual clever and constant application of propaganda which often lured the masses into falsely seeing hell as paradise, failed to achieve its goal this time around, likewise, the politics of spurious figures; because life for many at the moment, is like being aboard one of our out-of-control ancient ferries on stormy seas to Lungi.
I don’t know about you, but what is glaring across the land are faces of frustration, faces of the unemployed, faces of hopelessness, awaiting hope in a leadership that seems totally confused.
They need a President who is seated on the boat, bellowing directions, not one flailing incompetently in the water, waiting for the storm to subside by itself and practically ceding power to all and sundry in conclaves and from anywhere.
Little wonder then that some have come to conclude that in these traumatic times, the best duty any true patriot can do for Sierra Leone, is to challenge the status quo in the harshest way possible, since the best liberation is that which is achieved from within.
Definitely, no external power can liberate the people from the deepest abyss of despair, sorrow, anguish and hopelessness that has been their lot.
All well and done, the thrust of the Transformation Agenda campaign was that Sierra Leone would be transformed into a well-functioning, well integrated, and well organized social structure in various aspects of human endeavours.
What we wanted most of all, were signs that we were emerging from the dark age politics that has been our calling card since the demise of Milton Margai. We wanted decency in government, we wanted transparency, and we wanted hard work.
Every election season, promises are reeled out, which the people cling to. Yet, the changes promised them keep translating into more poverty, illiteracy, disease and deprivations. It is unimaginable that while politicians are unable to improve the lives of our people, their own wretched lives are wrapped in opulence.
Since we achieved self-determination, our leaders have continued to plough the land with the wrong farm implements and sowed the wrong seeds; the wrong values; the wrong culture, preached the wrong sermon, read the wrong verses to us and we have simply been harvesting the results of such bad leadership ever since.
True, you cannot find a virgin in a maternity ward, and leopards cannot change their spots; but politicians whose chameleonic nature is legendary, ought to be able to alter theirs. Though they are no longer at the esteemed table in the eyes of our society, they are still on the best golf course.
Unfortunately, some of the strange bedfellows in the corridors of power seem to think that the journey to national redemption is more important than the destination; which is why our political space is still dominated and controlled by undeveloped minds.
But amidst the fresh graves of fellow Sierra Leoneans from the orgy of bloodletting by Ebola, which has seen an undertone of the politicisation of internal crisis and insincerity on the part of the political leadership, we cannot continue to allow politics to be about politicians and what is important to them, their ego, ambition and what they want to do for themselves alone.
Those defending the government’s recent concerted action under a so-called state of emergency that led to the arrest of a dissenting voice are blind to the obvious democratic deficiencies of the President’s decision and equally his political failings.
The move which repudiates every tenet of democracy and evokes depressing memories of authoritarianism, is another typical farce which cannot yield to any logical argument, because none of the parties are coming to equity with clean hands.
Obviously it is easy to pillory one man, than to address the inter-related threats of corruption and impunity by government officials and public discontent to the apparent ‘theocratic’ rule of those in power, especially where such is being drowned in the cacophonic voice of the opposition portraying the President as not performing and where the noise is sinking dangerously deep in the minds of the people
Little wonder then that the extent of falsehood, based on either ignorance or outright mischief that is being peddled in the public space by highly placed persons is alarming and sickening.
It is even worse when a top government functionary, who is expected to know the facts, goes public with information that is half-truth and massaged information designed solely to turn red into black. Government magic as the late Fela describes it.
Like a foul odour that stabs the nose, this nasty navel-gazing is cynical and to say the least- a lack of red meat in the government’s anaemic democratic posture and its avowed claim to hold the media in high esteem.
It exhibits disquieting dictatorial tendencies and amounts to the President chucking his rattles out of the pram when public opinion is not being rigged in his favour. It is an archaic practice which needs to return to its grave because it no longer fits the dynamism of a vibrant democratic society of the 21st century.
In real democracies which recognise independence of thought and freedom of expression, Presidents do not have the power to lock up opposing voices willy-nilly.
Only the police on the basis and strength of their evidence or suspicion can either use existing law or approach the court for permission to arrest an individual either for the purpose of investigation or prosecution. (Definitely not our type of force).
That, is how the law is applied. Individual rights to free speech are not wantonly repressed in an attempt to protect the pretensions and follies of the over-pampered political elite.
Each pleb, even the dregs of the society, has a fundamental right for his voice to be heard; and no individual, irrespective of his status, is above criticism and censure.
However, in our part of the world, where leaders are imbued with the mindset of domination and where corruption, sectarian and selfish interests undermine the rule of law, the imposition of discretion on the very law that leaders swore to uphold is one of the reasons why the politician can order the arrest of people.
Experience has shown even during the life of the present administration that the law in Sierra Leone is just like the spider’s web that catches the little and defenseless animals, while the bigger mammals with connections, pass through unhindered.
But when those who swore to uphold the law show flagrant disregard, abuse and contempt for the law, what hope has the rule of law to take root in our country?
Anyway, as long as crabs walk sideways, it is presumptuous to expect the ideological descendants of those whose sense of leadership is absolute power and political intolerance to realise and appreciate the morality of their muddled sense of priority.
The fact is that having been stung and unnerved by public outcry and swipes by the press about its corruption, ineptitude and the pathetic initial handling of the madness unleashed by the dreaded Ebola Virus which has left the nation scampering and traumatised, the government has been in search of perceived enemies leaving only one eye on how to fight the battle and praying to feed off the back of the result of an international deluge.
Consequently, the president spends his time chopping and changing his battle warriors and in denial of the helplessness and hopelessness of its administration.
It became self-conscious and petulant and decided in its wisdom that this was an opportunity to reinforce its intimidation of the people into silence and docility and also gag the media.
He has since tried to embark on an image laundering, meant to surpass the initial inertia and muster the necessary political gravitas. Sadly, there has been nothing redemptive about such effort and the jury remains unconvinced by each gimmick which often has the smell of stale cigarette in the ashtray.
Regrettably, those who ought to set off the alarm and guide the administration away from bringing side attractions to the fight at hand are intoxicated by deceit, blindfolded by the god of money, power and pleasure and are morally photophobic. They have become fugitives from truth.
But, if we continue to inject bad blood into our body politic and every national issue becomes an opportunity to unleash our political intolerance and small-mindedness syndrome against perceived opponents, as it is beginning to happen in recent times, then politics will become very deadly. You can see it in the inherent division within the government hierarchy.
It is sad that desperation which has since become a defining feature of our politics is moving beyond the boundary of sanity, with the increasing and consistent abuse of individual and group rights taking a very dangerous turn and becoming an embarrassment of our democratic credentials.
I believe that our politics should not be one that will truncate the system. It should build rather than destroy. Perhaps those who openly speak in frank disapproval are merely being honest with the people of this country in their desire to make us face the tedious task ahead.
We must do away with crazed vendetta or concealed political bigotry and let our politics focus on the collective future of Sierra Leone and how to sustain it with all hands on deck; even if they go against our traditional leadership toga.
Oh! By the way, instead of the President and the government being bumped into a corner where internal contradiction intersects with comeuppance why don’t they just devote all available energy on the Ebola battle.
It needs to realise that if the people are incited as it claims, then it is because there is room for disenchantment. Pure and simple.