Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon
28 August 2012
When the populace do not even know that they have a right to certain necessities of life and public trust and optimism is in short supply, why are the peculiarly unimaginative, hell-bent on ensuring that small changes get big hurrahs, pumping up their significance as indicators of real progress?
Is it that we as a people have bought so heavily into the ‘myth’ of growth that we believe unseating the current APC government will undermine the foundation of development; or is it the fear of having to start again under an SLPP regime that promises to re-lay the tracks of our polity and national life, that is sending our hearts racing?
Is Ernest Bai Koroma (EBK) a paragon of virtue or will Julius Maada Bio’s (JMB) emergence be like the anti-Christ riding into the Vatican?
Will anointing the SLPP flagbearer cause a political earthquake that will help rebuild the nation or will uprooting the APC incumbent be a devastating tsunami?
Has Ernest Koroma done all he can usefully do for us? Will Maada Bio have the energy, drive and vision to take us a notch up the scale of progress?
Does the present holder of the highest post in the land command the respect of the majority of the citizens for his achievements or do the people see in his main challenger another hope for the fulfilment of their long cherished vision of a better tomorrow?
Who out of the two front runners for the presidency is indeed more popular with the voters in a level playing ground?
In short, are you better off today than you were five years ago?
It is indeed a sad commentary of our dysfunctional democracy that with just a few months to national polls and as the frenzied theatrics of our political gladiators get underway, amidst the soap opera about their sterling qualities, fairytales and the opium of illusion for the uninformed, we as a people have still not imbibed attitudes and situations that will make us to ask such probing questions.
We still find it a herculean task to challenge the rhetoric of the ‘no question asked’ status quo and are still guided by an illusion that only the past and the present nuclear status as churned out to us, will pander to our dream world.
It is as if for us, any historic shift will have huge implications for our body politic, our sense of identity as a nation and expose the flaws in process and method of achievements that form the backdrop to our festering problems which have left us stagnant.
But rather than the state of negative political emotions that is the current benchmark, my belief is that lovers of the country and its people should be putting to the electorate, critical questions that will ensure that truth does not suffer most in the choice of who leads us.
As our social fabric is being ripped apart by the inordinate ambitions of desperadoes with only rag-bag of mixed ideas, in a way that politicians of old, including Pa Shaki, could only fantasize, self-interest and politics have come first while the nation is being sacrificed and made as soulless as Big Market on a Sunday morning.
Despite four years of admirably egalitarian projects, those on the political scene are finding it a wee bit difficult to change their entrenched perceptions as they switch from auto-pilot in the previous forty eight months, to turbo cavalry in the run up to elections.
From the recent shambles and circus emanating from the corridors of power, such as the ludicrous selective anti-graft battles, the wonder conjured up by the Electoral Commission, which has been unleashed with all the decorum of an ariogbo at a stag weekend, to the incestuous relationships between politicians, the media and security agents; as well as the gun licensing and importation issues; it is very obvious that most of those in leadership positions are not only thinking with the male appendage (or female claptrap as may be the case) but are also mired in a combination of fantasy, mischief, confusion and denial.
Add the deliberate creation of an atmosphere rooted in a politics that is corny as well as calculating, to the failure of ill-conceived social and economic policies and those with two brain cells to rub together can see that there is some poignancy attached to these events.
However, I am not sure how the political class and its agents have managed to invoke fear and derision in equal measures?
But, these unlikely feats, capture not only the impotency of our society, but also the futility of what is supposed to be a rigid electoral system and governance as well as the uselessness of our fickle media.
When you recollect the dream of 2007; the hopes, promises and aspirations that berthed with the smooth transition of power and the emergence of what was mostly regarded as a new generation of rising stars, it is stomach wrenching to see another day, week and month go by and yet the grotesque and ludicrous level to which Sierra Leone has fallen and the introspection about why our country is still in the back waters of development is not the headline agenda.
Instead, many more ‘A’- grade students of vile hysteria, foul language, rudeness and filth, as well as corrupt practices have emerged and are now trawling the depth of our political cesspool, while the idea we had way back in 2007 about an Agenda for Change in all facets of our society, is starting to feel rather quaint, with the return of the sabre-toothed.
It appears as if once the political bandwagon rolled out of the SLPP mansion into the APC palace, the hangover began.
Rather than championing the campaign for a raised political consciousness among the people, the forces of the hysterical and the outraged, who are more interested in shouting above the cry of the masses, getting their faces on television and being seen as gladiators, are rising up in unrighteous dismay.
Consequently, we cannot openly discuss the merits and demerits of each leader, each policy enunciated and the radical and bold stuff needed if our dream is to stand a chance of becoming reality.
Because of the tourettic insistence on bringing up issues that only selected self-promoting charlatans with pent-up gripes want, it is becoming a bit difficult to find the truth in the sandstorm of propaganda as the hors d’oeuvre overshadow the main course.
Yet, Sierra Leone is still on one of the long and winding highways and byways leading off the main road of development, simply because with each passing government, the entire socio-political and economic structures of the country is ever more exposed as being very anachronistic and a bleeding that has to stop.
The wanton venality embedded in the current system for example, is a stark illustration of the apparent absence of filters to flush out those with poor leadership qualities, hence the tragic trend of grotesque fawning over aspirants every time elections draw near.
That is why for a while now, the domineering issue has been an avalanche of perceptions and attitudes, liberally spiced with ethnic and political epithets, as the media has led the way on where a president should come from, not what he should do, believe in, or offer the country.
While criminal investors are chipping away at our long term prosperity and growth by making us (sorry that should be a few chosen ones) addicted to their sweeteners, it has been about ethnic coloration and geographical and gender constitution, not how whoever forms the government, would meet people’s need for jobs, housing and decent wages.
Relegated to the background are relevant realities, such as the pace and direction of our national development, the life prospects of our frustrated youths; the structure and failures of governance at the expense of incongruous issues – such as who is more handsome as a leader.
The state of play in domestic politics, which is again evident from the current trend, also underpins a fundamental problem: our nation is in a more precarious state than it seems and is fast becoming like an empty project that has run out of fuel.
Our collective desire somehow seems lost behind false messiahs and mythical agenda changers, who appear to be on a marathon of indifference as they wallow in an archaic political back-scratching culture of mediocrity.
They see lifting the subservient majority out of poverty and the country to a higher pedestal as a postscript and not the central theme of governance.
Members of the fourth estate of the realm have even taken off their masks and are no longer the dignified face of a society that has been traumatised by the political machinations of the past.
What hits you about the loathsome degradation and delusion of the minority that is holding us by the jugular is their bare-knuckle brawls; rather than the lack of collective and reasonable eloquence and erudition to show superiority in class and ideas.
The firestorm of political indignation from all shades of politicians and commentators, which is simmering away like a very angry boil-in-the-bag cod, appears to be the key being used by the spivs and spooks, to play on our fears and ratchet up control of our thoughts and focus, at the expense of our freedom to make informed decision.
As a result and for sometime now, in a weary landscape of economic crisis, escalating cost of living and excruciating poverty, rather than provide bread, what you’ve got is a hilarious new national game of social tension and political scandal; with plans, actions and utterances that reverse the idea of progress amidst the bluff and bluster of our smoke and mirror politics.
The glaring conclusion is that the underlying reason lies in the lack of respect that politicians and their lackeys display towards democracy.
Unfortunately, it is also one that, seemingly, most voters have forcefully imbibed as well; like a fish course in a posh dinner: You don’t really know why it is there and wouldn’t miss it if it wasn’t there, but you eat it because it has been put in front of you, even though you are not a fish lover and it’s not the menu you ordered.
However, the political imperative points in one direction. Perspective and proportion are lost. Please, I beg you; don’t swallow the easy comparisons of bright lights amid the gloom.
They are as poor and unoriginal as most of the pundits and commentators who draw them, and is the reason why the self-aggrandizing political climate is being promoted more than ever before and signposted to mislead.