Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 12 June 2022:
Instead of achievements stemming from our dedication to truly turning our nation around, it is a veritable bugbear and a loathsome disdain for one another which is sometimes weighed down by a depreciable descent from the sublime to the ridiculous, in a tunnel-visioned political silo.
We are all grabbing at the straw of our main issues and not the substance and it appears that we are being led by traditional and political leaders who care little or nothing about our future, except the true meaning and impact of tribalism, bigotry, political and religious hypocrisy. All they care about, is today. Our future as a people in this nation, appears disappointingly bleak if we should continue with this approach to the building of a nation where peace and justice shall reign.
Few things evoke a palpable feeling of nostalgia and more, than the contextual architecture of the socio-political and economic Sierra Leone of the past and the utopian content of the country of our dreams…
I’m almost sure that many of those who were immediate products of pre and post-independent Sierra Leone would not imagine our nation still struggling to live up to the progressive status she is more than capable of, in the 21st century.
No doubt, it is the mismanagement of the past that has led us to where we are today. Therefore, If the current brouhaha over the census, just like the irreverent pursuit of the Mayor of Freetown by those who laid the welcome mat for hero-worshipping and cultic reverence of some custodians of the filthy lucre of our commonwealth whose snouts were redirected from the national feeding trough, will do something good for us, maybe it would be to address some of the issues we are facing squarely.
As usual, we have once again found a way to pull off the wrappers covering our nakedness, in the marketplace. The laughable hypocrisy, legal threats, wild statements and outlandish declarations hilariously pouring through the freeway of social network commentaries, without regard for accuracy or circumspection, is another indication that any interaction between positive and negative causes the positive to lose its identity on the spot.
Those who threw a dead ethno-political cat on the table, in the hope that it will change the narrative, are now spewing garbage and inspirational sound bites to seize another opportunity to blur the landscape amidst the continued foam-fleck fantasy from the current administration. After all, when a lion roars, it is only those who understand its anger that knows he is in pain.
The price of our collective endorsement of improprieties in the public space can be seen in those who claim to be the ‘sharpest of minds’ like Chericoco, (who wants the world to believe that census data is not for development and political purposes anywhere in the world) and the band of brigands in the collective opposition parties that are now pulling the trigger of social dislocations and yet expect us to embrace them as intentional leaders rather than accidental usurpers if the musical chair of our governance were to change hands. Their concentration of the developmental effectiveness of the census is disingenuous if not hypocritical.
Obviously, the hope of salvation and emancipation as well as the wish that they will come to power to do something new, fix the numerous problems we face and provide the solutions towards a new Sierra Leone, is an ill-placed illusion and dangerous delusion judging by the faceless hardliners with a hidden agenda that head the on-going uproar.
The saddest commentary of our socio-political realities is the continued use of tribal piques to win political favours or to class others as some sort of genocidal monsters, even in situations where our very future depends on interjection of shared perspectives and values. We have even gone as far as to create a brand-new tribe that knows only the colour of our party and a society that cannot rise above the level of the mentality of its warped minority; whose ideas, beliefs and actions are weaponised to achieve myopic rather than common goal.
A huge symptom of the malaise that pervades our fragile pot, once broken by a civil war but which we thought is being mended, never mind the derived metrics we spew out that only exist on Excel sheets, is the wreck of unprincipled and gutter politics which belongs to the garbage as it continues to ruin lives due to the toxic mix of tribalism and pure nastiness.
Rather than build and support strong institutions to distil the joy from the hard road we’ve travelled and which our sinews and muscles grew tough and our bones became strong enough to bring us this far, organs like the COPP, bob about as a reed on a rough political sea, grinning inanely like a constipated Cheshire cat, while the judiciary, through the courts leave us in a haze. Many of us keep quiet and wring our hands and hide under all forms of excuses like what has an aeroplane got to do with potholes in the streets.
Even though the APC’s bad smell has left the building, the New Direction continues to refurbish the roof without shoring up the foundation. It is increasingly coming against forensic scrutiny as I envisaged, because, while it was busy revving up the engine of its influence, dynamism and populist agenda, the key issues were patently ignored while forming about module-by-module restoration.
No wonder the ‘savvy’ opposition, knowing fully well that we stand on the threshold of perhaps the most significant moment in the history of our nation and a time of economic challenges, ethnic and political tensions, are, in what appears a carefully marshalled strategic onslaught, swinging their pendulum and nasty streak of hubris, to charm a hungry populace who still hang on their every word and crumbs from their palatial tables.
However, amidst the frustrated grunts and collective amnesia of a bunch of nefarious enablers in the opposition and the coach and horses’ propaganda machinery of tireless cheerleaders deodorising the achievements of the new direction, lies the truth, which is approximately a million miles away from the myth that ‘we are a united people’.
The truth is: WE ARE NOT YET A PEOPLE. Just keeping it real. The truth needs no consensus; it stands tall, all on its own. Definitely, no matter the shade you put on it, truth remains an objective fact.
We posture in mindless partisanship and there appears to be this raging mob mentality insisting for anarchy to be let loose and for our different tribes and tongues to get twisted in a knot rather than in unity of purpose. As we continue to revel with our cocktail of champagne and cyanide, our debilitating social dyspraxia (difficulties with coordination) exposes the truth that our society is far from converging on its reality.
We have refused to learn from the mistakes of our past and hamstrung by symbols of past failures. Yet, our current socio-economic and political orientation continues to hinder the emergence of a progressive and quality nation with the miasma of corrosive tribalism, naked corruption and political calamities of unequal dimension making the immediate advent of a collective mentality with mutual idiosyncrasies harder. Instead we have all thrived on our differences.
Without a shadow of doubt, I am aware that between black and white, other colours contend for attention. To that end I beg to submit that no matter how good a government we have, Sierra Leone is never going to become a productive and progressive nation as long as the values we choose to uphold cannot stand the litmus test and our unfortified characters continue to retrogress in the face of truth.
From our leaders down to the ordinary man, the truth walks on crutches of lies and sentiments. We have all become victims of a society in which falsehood has become a pandemic and a brutal reality blurred beyond recognition, and which can be substituted with illusion. Truth is now floated on the ‘stock exchange’ where its price is determined by market forces.
As we continue to call a spade an object of hoeing instead of exactly what it is, it has become difficult to find people with clothes not tainted with one sentiment or the other, meant to cover the naked truth which has become a toy rather than a tool; and boy, is the toy being so fiddled with?
The war of my truth versus your truth and the Piper and Paymaster syndrome whose structural trends have led to the ructions from/of the insidious past, makes it appear as if we are simply swapping the deck chairs for the armchair on our socio-political and economic titanic.
What we have is a chain whose ring has not been broken…as we continue to spend our midnight in the garden of denial of reality and often, succumb to the nihilistic tendencies of our leaders; indicating that the beginning of the end still lies in the future. Indeed, our society and even governance, is still a cesspit.
The rainbow of our socioeconomic and political chaos being orchestrated by yesterday’s men and today’s likely lads, unveils the silent footstep we cannot hear, and which continues to flash the red warning light that if the root’s isn’t fixed, the seed of the real potential in the social contract, can’t grow.
In the midst of our epidemic of hypocrisy, some things still defy comprehension. How has a people with a glorious and blistering pace of class and panache petered into a laboured trek and now embroiled in a failure of imagination, opportunistic tendencies, instant gratification and horrible sense of superficiality, in what should be a collective effort at unification.
You know something, let’s forget about both the government and the opposition’s delight in weaponing falsehood to propagate bigotry and promote prejudice; let’s not think about voodoo economics and government’s magic in the fight against corruption, and so, just for a second, let’s broach an issue about the kind of virus that has been mutating and infecting us all within the absurdity of trying to build something on nothing as we continue to feed drugs to a dead horse.
I’m nonplussed and the reason is simple: Are we really trying to rehash the past in new robes or build a new future? The consistent question that troubles the carapace of my mind is summed up simply as, ‘why are we where we are?’ Why is our politics primitive and egocentric? Why do we have a ‘winner takes it all’ mentality, such that vilifies and alienates?
We can spend the rest of the year celebrating the good old days and moaning about the bad and the downright ugly that have befallen our nation. Such a preoccupation would be both false and worthless, because in both the past and the present, there is a lot that is good, and quite a lot that is both bad and ugly.
What we have at the moment is like comparing a broken doorknob to a door without a handle. Simply put, the political elite is greedy and will continue to rotate like a barber’s chair on the same spot while our tragicomedy continues. The deep myopia induced by the dubious comforts of corruption and deception; means we cannot even fashion a destination never mind working on the journey.
How can our nation lift herself with her bootstraps, when indeed she is bootless? We are not just still in the woods. There are no serious signs that we are interested in a solution. What is the essence of unity when the ingredients of unity are not being served to ginger our collective future? The most painful and sad story is the continued flutter of the status quo ante and the tortuous state we all crave to put behind us. The yesteryear of yesterday.
Indeed we need to light a candle in the darkness and shine the light to serve as a compass for the present and coming generations. How can we encounter developmental breakthrough when we all have been divided by our religious, political and ethnical ideologies and all we do is occupy our time with obscene discussions, irrelevances and archaic doctrines? People you assume should know and thus interject with a level of sensitivity, disappoint their reputation, and carelessly
But, in a free society, there comes a time when the truth — however hard it may be to hear, however impolitic it may seem, must be told. Right now in the Sierra Leone of today, the caterpillar is wearing a crash helmet and the butterfly is driving the tractor. We are still mired in the same manure. It is a comedy, but not comic for our country.
Maybe one of our problems is that no one appears to have an idea of what sort of society we want; which is what makes it hard for each one of us to see the wider trend of our collective amnesia and the import of our divergent alienating political cultures. A great past in search of a future. The enigma wrapped in a mystery and hidden in a riddle.
Now, our continued embrace of phantom political melodrama and the acceptance of the contrived emotions for the things of the present, given the strong socio-political, religious, emotional and utterly antagonistic reactions it engenders across the land, is without a shadow of doubt, a stain on our values of life, aspirations, development and dreams. It ensures they cannot be raised or realised until we nurture the texture of our thoughts and the depth of our understanding as well as the quality of our core beliefs.
There is no way we can have a meaningful conversation without unity of purpose as they will serve no public good except the myopic interest of its chroniclers and purveyors. No matter what, we cannot continue to look at our issues through a parochial lens only.
True, there’s nowhere in the world that governments have not generated strong divergent views. But the issue here is that in having the courage to confront some of our long-standing problems and in the light of our political colouration, it is disappointing that the new direction and indeed the opposition claiming to want the best for Sierra Leone, are failing to appreciate that micros are optimised only when macros are effective. You never put the micros before the macro. Ever!
Between populist programmes and socio-economically vital decisions, hardly has any action been taken without it registering high on the Richter scale of suspicion and downright drowning in the swamp of today’s poisonous politics.
Obviously, our biggest problem is this illusionary belief that we can change our country by voting a different person into power. But, isn’t it clear that the cure for headache is not beheading? Yes, the two main parties that have ruled Sierra Leone share the blame for bad governance but if we take into consideration the years each side spent governing the country and the depth of deprivation and depreciation that marked their era, I am inclined to think that we can see a two-way revolving mirror about ourselves, our journey and the lessons to be learnt about values, dedication, selflessness and teamwork.
Can nepotism and falsehood breed truth and brotherhood? Why does ethnicity and politics determine the tilt of debate and integrity wear partisan robe and end up causing deeper polarisation, intolerance and anomie that will become entrenched and grow into a monster consuming the very core of national development? Why does each administration often wake up to realise that the basket they snatched from the mad woman on the streets contains only dirty, discarded and useless scrap?
Do me a favour. Do we really admire the dream of the future…? If we do, the world is in a frenetic race for growth and development and here we are saddled with those who colour debates with a passion that steamrolls holders of views adverse to theirs, in a cauldron of abuses – and when you hold information to their faces, the more charitable blank away, arguing that you are entitled to your opinion as they theirs. Nothing learnt, no ignorance lost.
With the APC, Ernest Koroma and some politicians with anal retentive thinking allowed to use the age-long trick of someone pretending to sneeze just to scatter the table in a board game when he realises that he’s losing, the new direction government of President Bio has shown the same frailty inherent in our democratic dispensation and confirmed the fact that things have just got to change. This constant pressure to secure our future, when the NOW, the immediate moment is crumbling before our eyes begs the question: What future are we exactly “investing” in?
So, why don’t we take a mirror and look into that mirror? Whatever reflection in there is the main problem of Sierra Leone. We must look in the mirror occasionally and share some bitter truths about who and what we are, to perform a quick and successful surgical operation for the purpose of removing, from our body politic, a malignant and debilitating morbid growth.
If not, then it is Requiem to a golden opportunity in our politics of a mad house. That’s the serious conundrum