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.
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.
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”.