Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 1 June 2015
No. I’m not talking about the faux grandeur or charade (take your pick) that’s been on display from political thespians suffering from serious foot-in-the-mouth, since we went for each other’s jugular over two decades ago and especially, in the last eight years.
I’m talking of change that will truthfully scratch our half-a-century-long itch of truly toxic under-development and rid our governance of bloopers that are the stuff of satirical plays.
I mean the type of change that will lance the boil that has grown round the national jugular of truth.
The scale of the attempt at reforming the entirety of our socio-political system and making our society see the other side of the argument for change, is however enormous.
This is, in the light of the fact that the transformation has to come from the bottom up this time, as shown by our experience so far.
Leaving yesterday’s men or their offspring, as the agent of the change, has proved to be the main recipe for our unmitigated disaster. Obviously, because of their myopic thinking, all they want is a throw-back to the same yesterday, which of course we know fully well, no longer exist.
The epiphany of the level of rot in our society and system, as we mourn the simultaneous decline of our socio-political values, ought to ginger a determination to repel the current social engineering by the present political class, which is simply based on monetary and material incentives or plain dictatorial tendencies.
Our penchant for denials and the belief that all-is-well, as well as the ability to concur to dishing out unmerited adulations on any political fraud in leadership, is one of the key elements of our lack of progress.
It is why we have ended up as a country where political power, characterised by absolutism and impunity are the mantra of the day. It has become the bubble where government remains the paramount area of folly in which men seek power over others, only to lose it over themselves and begin to run riot.
Today’s men have simply changed places with Yesterday’s, selling nothing but smoke – selling shadows not substance. Telling us what we want to hear, but telling us nothing – selling sentiments, not reality. Their ways stink like an open grave. And when you lift up the rock of any scandal, or unveil the face of any impunity which drags us down, you will surely see the hand of our current political class.
Those who were meant to be new kids on the block, hailed as investors in your future and mine, and whose early postures promised to uplift the soul of a dreary nation and wake the dead bones of a dishevelled country to life, turned out to be the domino that will not fall.
Despite the cry of the people that a new leaf ought to be turned, little has changed in the belly of the beast. Our corridors of power remain the bulwark of the beastly, the den of desperadoes, and the unfailing abode of fugitives and vagabonds.
A mere glance will reveal that, as a result of corruption, too much unaccountable wealth from what is meant to be our common inheritance, now floats in the hands of a few, who are not only growing fat at our expense, but who are rudely farting in our faces.
Career politicians, who live on the system instead of living for it, fight determinedly to be in office at all costs, with the attendant monumental corruption. They operate outside the ambit of decency and beyond the law or proper accountability.
Full of the knowledge that the ruled, who unwittingly often connive in their own abasement and oppression, are too ignorant, too poor and too disunited to rise up against the gross indecency that is presented as governance, they carry out their political fatwa on the nation.
The argument for change is enormous, in the light of the fact that our continued ability to hammer square pegs into round holes, has not only deepen the farce, it has made the system even more rotten than it had ever been.
It is very sad to note that instead of daring, the fear of the unknown has caused the rest of us to remain where we are. Yet, we watch and lament, as we behold our blessed nation of abundant human and natural resources, become a dawdling hippo, rather than age gracefully.
We get worse as the years pass by. With headshake of despondency, we simply watch the deterioration of every single thing that once made our country beautiful. Our age of innocence has long disappeared. A promise unfulfilled as a result of the bloody toll of inaction and morbid paradox.
Our politicians have dabbed too much gloss on the bad deal they have dealt us, just as they have remained like a vampire-squid, sucking the life out of the country. These jesters, depleting the stock of our moral capital have turned politics into a branch of the entertainment industry, by their behaviour, performance and disposition.
The scavengers of power who litter our political landscape, waltz from one crisis to another, while we collectively allow ourselves to be scammed by these predatory eagles who simply cajole us with new promises, every time the wind blows and their rear is exposed.
However, if Sierra Leone is to transform and evolve towards an all-inclusive, people-oriented governance and politics of performance, then we definitely need to start revisualising the type of country and governance that we want.
We need to change the contours of public opinion in the direction and perception of what democratic governance in the realm of our future, really demands of us all.
After the poison served up in the last eight years, we do not only need a palate-cleanser, our politics which has been in the sewers, is in dire need of a boil-wash.
We have assumed too much and this has turned out to be the greatest obstacle to the true transformation of the country. Those looking out for an overhaul of the system and fed up of what is presently on offer, tend to overlook the fact that poverty, ignorance, illiteracy and tribalism, know no creed or colour, but only stomach infrastructure (survival), first and foremost.
Right now, Sierra Leone’s existing socio-political system, which appears to be sinking deeper into the sea of its own dung, no thanks to the breed of politicians that we have been unfortunately saddled with, does not merely need to be put in order. It needs evacuation, fumigation and if that doesn’t work – demolition.
Agents of this proposed change must appreciate and recognise the fact that we are in a society steeped in blatant ignorance that is often covered up with bravado, the toga of sentiments that becloud judgements and massive illiteracy that has become a pride.
Beyond this, this is a land in which educated illiterates have dominated for long, because most of us folded our hands, or clapped in the theatre and kept enjoying the drama on stage.
The current banal personality-centred political system that is anchored on tribalism, religion, cronyism, and which has tossed the nation like a broken raft at sea to an unimaginable depth of depravity, numbed corruption, horrible governance, impunity and ineptitude, is nothing but a horrifying spectacle, hobbling through the streets of our society’s conscience.
Before the usual suspects start squealing with confected outrage, let me make it clear that I am only putting this in perspective. No doubt, if we are going to have to achieve anything to change the political pulse of our society, apart from the mien of permanent pathos by the progressives, there is a compelling need to dig deep into the heart of our malady, with a very sharp knife.
We need to take drastic actions in the shortest possible time, especially before the next election, to put things into proper national focus and understanding.
Why are we not developing? Why are we not making as much progress as we should? Why do we take one step forward and three backwards? Why do we just listen to opaque declarations year in year out from reactionary, parasitic, self-centred and anti-development rulers, whose idea of service is to amass wealth? Why have we allowed a dreadful secret cult to blindfold us to the point where even though we are disenchanted, the best we do is to remain highly expectant at every election?
Sadly, you cannot treat cancer with ordinary Panadol. There is no way we can make an omelette without breaking an egg. Meaning that, doing nothing in the face of prevailing circumstances and realities, is definitely, NO LONGER AN OPTION.
Whether we believe it or not, our sick nation needs a new dawn and a new vision – the emergence of a new era, when the country will bounce back to its lost years of glory.
It has become very obvious that it is not what our political class can do, but what we, as a united, politically-conscious populace can do.
The desperate reality, if we appreciate the need to get out of where we are, is to focus on the picture of our despair and then zoom in on what we can do to help the people to get involved in the discussion about the needed change and how they can hold public officers accountable. They need to realise the enormity of the power they hold as the electorate.
For this, we need the able leadership of leaders moulded by history and dint of personal effort to lead the daunting task. We need the spirit of bravery in our youths.
There needs to be fresh impetus in our political tutelage of the generality of the people about the dangers of deep-seated primordial sentiments, and the long-term dangers of bowing to leaders who would never be satisfied unless one of their own ethnic extraction is in power.
The eyes of the masses have to be opened to how they are being ripped off by a few, at the expense of an all-inclusive national developmental agenda.
There is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle than to initiate a new order of things, for the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in those who would profit by the new order. But try we must, if we truly want to get out of our rot.
Mental revolution is the deepest revolution. But has the mindset of the people been oriented to undertake nation-building tasks? Are those for whom we think the bell toll, aware there is another way from the present highway of badly desecrated Augean stable?
The right thing to do will naturally be to truly do some soul-searching, look within, and indulge in sober reflection and serious introspection. But soul searching is a pointless activity, unless there is a clear vision of what our aspiration as a nation is.
Likewise, it is an exercise in futility to empathise with the majority languishing in poverty, if they have nothing to influence their actions and behaviours, towards the progressive attainment of a shared vision, common goal and collective aspiration that is beneficial to them.
Although it sounds unreal, it’s possible at least to stand together to constantly condemn and fight against corruption, injustice and poor infrastructure. We must stand and be heard. We need to let the people know that it was in our overtly reclusiveness and resignation to circumstances, that political demons crept in and dragged us far into the abyss that we never thought possible.
However, for true transformation or transfiguration, we must be determined to get rid of the too-much-movement but so-little-motion of our political-rocking-boat, which is permanently blocking the national ocean between shaping the future and retreating into the abysmal past.
This is the time to act. The destiny of our unborn children is right in our hands. The time to lead is now. The time to act is now. Progressive minds cannot afford to remain a timid generation. They must put aside semantics and become the symbol of the expected future of the country.
We must never forget that change is not a sprint but a marathon, not a destination but a journey, which can be long and demanding – topsy-turvy and dotted with so many twists and turns. Yet, it has an inevitability about it when the time, like now, is right.
Those interested in this fight back to wrest the country from the domain of the ancient, should make their presence and impact felt at the grassroots, so that people will identify with them when election comes.
It will be unfortunate if within the next decade down the line, we have not moved farther than we are now, on the development ladder.
One way or the other, the time for change is upon us. It must be allowed to prosper. We need to knit neglected emotions back into the political fabric.
As it is, there’s something deeply wrong at the very heart of our Sierra Leone, which sees endless groups of young men and women idling in front of houses and shops, most of them without any idea what to do with themselves for the day or how to survive the hardship of life.
A situation in which these youths who are the future of our country, flock around cockroach kings, like dust around bandits, is unacceptable and should not continue to linger while some of us sip our brandy, enjoy the benefits of association with the marauders of our very soul as a nation, or simply stand aloof, denouncing any relationship with the nation that nurtured us to whatever enviable heights we may find ourselves today.
We need to drag our nation and its socio-political institutions by force, blinking into the daylight, even if the blink hurts their eyes and ours.
All we need as a starter is a little fish, hooked from our poisonous political pool, to kick-start the meal ticket for the journey.
Is that you? Are the beautiful ones born yet?
I am enthralled reading your pieces as I believe most Sierra Leoneans are. Keep on with these lectures Awoonor-Gordon. Every wellmeaning Sierra Leonean pays their attention to these brainstorming thoughts picturing the very reality of our society. I do believe a feeling of preparedness for a change is in the minds of the majority to start up a crusade of change in our beloved Sierra Leone totally free from tribal sentiments, regional divide and free from political antagonism. The change will come!
I do so much enjoy and relate to your thoughts. I consider this ‘my thoughts’ but better expressed by you, Thanks.
Many would think these are the thoughts of an idealist considering what our nation has descended into in the hands of those in control. I believe however, and I am sure there are many of us, that these are the thoughts of realists and pragmatists who know deep within that things can and will change with the right momentum and infusion of perspectives across the whole nation.
Sierra Leone is ours, and by implication our God given right to live in and enjoy what we have been blessed with. We are willing to strive for this.
Many of us, however, may be at loss as to where to start and how to be part of all this. But of course, the beautiful ones are already born and yearning for change.