Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 4 May 2015
Despite the constitutional imbroglio and the presence of Ebola in our midst, Sierra Leone on the surface, seems extraordinarily calm these days.
However, whatever the outcome of the Sam Sumana saga, one thing is sure – he is history, as far as the current master-class in political cynicism goes.
Nevertheless, one lesson from the drama, is the increasing need for reform of the political system and the strengthening of our democratic institutions.
The fact that all our major political parties are embroiled in internal bickering – with national implications, speaks volume for our democratic dispensation, and exposes the inherent flaws of our power grabbers known as politicians.
The brick-bating also highlights the desperate cry for a totally different political movement that is not anchored to the past and current cultural and social moorings, and which will remove the contradictions and compromises of our political psyche. (Photo: Will Kandeh Yumkella step into the breach to provide a new movement?)
Truth is, the APC which looks more like a stay-at-home lounge lizard; and the fragmented, alienated and laughable SLPP that often roars like a lion but rolls around like a lamb, have not only failed us, but have both become a catalyst for political and social instability.
They are now the symbol of our failure to translate our limitless human and natural wealth into uplifting optimism.
In the slimy terrain of politics, the fight and contest for power from time immemorial, has always been fierce and intense. It has never been a sport for the lily-livered or the faint hearted.
So, as I watched President Ernest Koroma (Photo) cleverly wriggling out of answering pertinent questions on a recent foreign television interview, it became very clear that the constitutional saga appears to have become a case of national anal retentive thinking, where even both sides are truly scraping the barrel.
They have strenuously, though unconvincingly, sought a good reason for dining with the devil, making me to wonder whether some people are from the same planet as the rest of us law-abiding citizens.
A confirmation that as a result of bad education, the typical Sierra Leonean has been moulded to accept the mediocrity and imbecility often served up by our leaders.
The timing of the obviously orchestrated political vendetta has not only become a blotch on the campaigners themselves, but has succeeded in undermining the social fabric of our society and beclouding any subsequent issue that springs up.
This has left Sierra Leoneans abroad confused, about what next to believe about their country.
We now have a season of hire-wired deceits, misinformation, campaign of calumny and the spewing of outright falsehood and lies – all to hoodwink and deceive ordinary and gullible supporters. But, even the blind knows that the current struggle is for the life and soul of the nation – pure and simple.
This irrational response to realities within a conclave, is once again subverting the little trust in the nation’s judicial and political processes, while the ‘morals’ in the approach is bound to be short-lived, unproductive and useless in the eyes of a discerning public.
It is an old trick, and its advocates are obviously ignorant of the wisdom that the best trick is to avoid obsolete tricks.
Whatever happens, it is essential for those who orchestrated the current impasse to appreciate that it is devoid of creativity, reeks of spite and malice, which could be the hallmark of hooded fifth columnists.
It also betrays the frustration of the unscrupulous, powerless, envious traducers groaning under suffocating indignation and malice.
The truth is that a large section of the ruling cabal have decided to act the same script over and over again to the detriment of the country and political ethos, which now reminds us of the age-long bastardisation and manipulation of our common psyche.
Obviously, a one-dimensional political class does not and cannot suddenly develop a third dimension, ever.
What readily comes to mind from the resultant fallout, is how painful and unfortunate it has become to discuss real issues. Little wonder that apart from the lip-service to CHANGE, socio-political and economic reforms in Sierra Leone, have remained at the level of abstraction and total unseriousness.
It is very clear that the Sumana saga is definitely not yet over. And although it seems to have turned Sierra Leone and its people into a hideously divisive and derisive freak show, the continued cry to the international community, especially the UK and the USA for intervention in what is principally an internal political affair, is a clear cut example of what happens when emotions trip common sense and folks succumb to hustlers.
We need to realise that sometimes in the course of defending our turf, the engagements are often knuckle-breaking and outrightly vicious. But I do not subscribe to the increasing demand for outside help or the rather absurd jungle dances that have been taking place outside international landmarks abroad.
Rather than the gradual descent into calumny and inanities, I believe we need a new model of appreciating our socio-political realities, outside the purview of the ‘enemy’ syndrome and the attendant bitterness.
Whatever the outcome of the judicial drama now playing out, what needs to be done is for all men and women of influence, goodwill and great conscience, as well as those desirous of a true political re-engineering – beyond the warped world of the APC and the SLPP, to arise and champion the vital restructuring of our society and governance.
We cannot continue to lament over the economic downturn, insecurity of lives and properties, mass youth unemployment, poor infrastructure and political shenanigans forever.
Our governance has become an illusion in democracy and a world of make-believe, where twisted public perception, either true or false, reign supreme. The people have become pawns, played and tossed towards very selfish ends by power brokers.
The past few years have borne testimony to almost everything that is characteristically going wrong with our beloved nation. We continue to be sold off for pennies by pimps who parade as leaders, and all we have are scars to show for our struggles for an egalitarian society.
But rather than continue to clutch at one passing reed after another in an ocean where the current has been blistering and furiously against our dream, we need patriots to start charting a new course and a new direction for Sierra Leone.
The dream of our forebears was to build a strong and democratic society. Today, our dear country has been imperialised, even without the return of the imperialists. Sierra Leone has been messed up and destroyed by locusts in human skin.
We are no longer even breeding politicians. What we have today are con artists; a self-centred, manipulative political stratum which has failed to appreciate the fact that if you scuttle a system for personal ambition, it becomes a collective national tragedy.
It should always be the nation first. There is just no justification to scuttle or derail national progress for personal ambitions or desires, as we have been witnessing from most of our leaders since independence.
This is one of the main reasons why we need a political culture where ideology, conviction of words and thoughts, steadfastness and community engagement to form the cardinal principles that underpin our society.
We no longer want a society in which any government or person of power and means would be so selfish or crazy as to engage in factitious activities meant to divide and instigate violence for personal gain. Nor do we any longer need nostrums of brigands as politicians.
We have the power to make this generation lead the fight against the continued and sordid acts of the oppression of the majority by the minority, in the general scheme of things. So let us remind those we have trusted with leadership, that power belongs to the people of our beloved nation.
Let us move in the direction of change for the sake of our children’s future.
We need to come against acts that constitute an affront on the electorate, such as when political marriage of convenience fall apart, or when those who saw themselves in the warm embrace of people they abhorred from the onset, suddenly end up like a beaten cock, its feathers drooping and head bloodied.
It is our fundamental right to expect good governance as a consenting and contracting party to the mutual social contract, between the government and the governed.
Meanwhile, for the record and for posterity purposes, I am opposed to the continued call on the same outside world that is a key defining factor of where and what we are today. Our failure to shake off the shackles and mentality of the colonial past, remains our greatest barrier to development.
We are suffering from the colonial divide and rule system, which has failed to unite us as a nation; a system that has created a two tier nation, as well as sowed the seed of cultural and socio-political resentments from which we are yet to recover.
In our culture of mediocrity, we have continuously repeated the same mistakes as a people. We have turned ourselves into a people without the character to stand up to the bitterest end for strong moral and ethical principles, and instead, often reach out to others to fight our battles.
Like I’ve said before, we once blamed all our woes on the same British that we are yearning for. But when they left us to our devices, we realised that our problems were far from over, which led to soldiers giving it a go.
Still, nothing changed in our circumstances. A return to democracy via Siaka Stevens and Momoh, brought war and more woes, and took us back to democracy which we are once more bastardising.
And what do we have? – greater woes, with the nation’s development indices taking a downward turn.
The latest suggestion after 54 years of self-rule, is a return to the parliamentary system of government. But how long shall we continue to go round in circles.
The fault is definitely not in the system, but in our collective inability to grow up as a people and a political class.
Democracy has to be nurtured to grow. Strong democratic institutions are the backbone and future of our democracy. They must be protected and nurtured. Leadership failure has put them in reverse gear.
Sierra Leone can never rise to its full potentials or survive by kowtowing to other nations, or allowing the unproductive and unjust status quo as well as the diverse and conflicting bitterness that pervades our socio-political landscape, to continue to flourish.
Our failures and our inability to rise above mere shadow-chasing and sheer waste of time is one of the principal reasons why our society is yet to reform.
Instead, we have continued to play tribal and religious politics to the tilt, like drunken sailors, whenever we face a cheap series of painfully embarrassing events such as the on-going constitutional saga, where our dignity is mercilessly trampled by desperate individuals.
In past write ups, I have continuously stressed that if all of us keep silent and watch the nation degenerate into a state of anarchy or the play-station of those in power, then the consequences will be dire.
As we continue to long for the days when honour, national pride and dignity were the fundamental social principles that governed our country, we unwittingly stand good sense on its head, and have ensured that the telenovela nature of our politics is further endorsed by our lack of caution and strategic national thinking.
Thank God, we are still talking. And hopefully, we can all take stock before it’s too late. History is replete with mistakes of the past.
But as Oscar Wilde said, “we are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars”.
Thank you as usual Raymond for your thought provoking article. But isn’t it a crying shame that fellow patriotic citizens such as yourself living abroad, are free to express your views and opinions about the future of our country, while those of us in Sierra Leone dare not criticise those in power, openly and freely without the president pushing the barrel of his chinese made gun into our faces.
Ernest Koroma and his APC party cronies have become dangerously consumed by power and their desperate need to hang on to power by any means necessary, including the use of brutal force.
I hate to think about what is going to happen to us here in 2017 when preparation for elections start. Many people are going to be killed by APC.
I agree with Alan Luke, that Kandeh Yumkella needs to start building a new coalition of progressive and capable Sierra Leoneans representing the diverse sections of our society to contest the 2017/2018 elections.
Both the APC and SLPP are the parents and guardians of our corrupt political culture and broken institutions. Kandeh will not be able to change the way this country is being run, should he decide to lead either of those two parties.
There is a huge number of progressive and educated Sierra Leoneans from across the north, south, east and west of the country that would be willing to join a new political coalition, especially if its primary goal is to change the way the country is being governed by devolving power to the regions.
It will be a big mistake and lost opportunity for real change in Sierra Leone, if Kandeh throws his lot behind APC or SLPP. Kandeh must stand up for what is right, rather than take what he perceives to be the shortest route to the top of politics in Sierra Leone. The shortest route may well be the most dangerous!
Fellow Sierra Leoneans, the problem is not with the individuals of these organizations, the problem is with the way these organizations operate.
Even if you are a part of these organizations and you want to do what is right in the interest of the country, the culture of these organizations and the way they are structured would not allow you to succeed.
You have to toe the party line and put the interest of Party first, if not, you are tossed out or frustrated until you toss yourself out.
Fellow comrades, you have been witnesses to these behaviors for many years. Stop accepting the attitude of “what can we do” (“way for do”).
You can do something big, by supporting and electing the UNPP to office. The party still has the capability and discipline, as in 1996 when the UNPP won the election that was stolen from us.
The previous generation worked hard for our country to be free. The task before our generation is for us to build on the achievements of our heroes past, and bequeath a fitting legacy for future generations.
The UNPP believes that history has placed on all true Sierra Leonean patriots, the enormous task of building a better Sierra Leone.
Raymond – I cannot agree with you more. Sierra Leone is crying out for a new political movement after 54 years of abject failure by both SLPP and APC administrations. I find it incredible how much Sierra Leoneans are deeply wedded to these two parties, when you cannot point to sustained achievement since gaining independence.
Sierra Leone may be crying out for a new kind of politics, but there are no tears running down the faces of our people, because we continue to acquiesce and participate in the corrupt processes which the politicians have created.
We need a paradigm shift in our thinking and the way we view ourselves, and this does not have to be derived from having a formal education.
We have no sense of collective, or national pride. While other nations, even in the region, are living us behind, we continue to indulge in the same corrupt politics of patronage. We have lost our sense of purpose, discipline and hard work ethic. In the process we have pawned our self-respect for a fistful of dollars.
Kandeh Yumkella’s candidacy in 2017, presents us with an opportunity to develop a movement of willing Sierra Leoneans, who are capable and experienced to drive through the change that the country needs.
However both SLPP and APC are two sides of the same coin, and both represent the worst excesses of the politics of patronage. Therefore a Yumkella candidacy is likely not to deliver the change Sierra Leone needs, if it becomes encumbered by the SLPP machine, rather than developing a broader appeal.