Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 4 January 2017
In the midst of our economic fog and descent into bleak house in slow motion, I had planned to reflect in absolute silence as 2016 gave way to this New Year.
I mean, we all know that we have a messed-up country and are equally aware that the damage is phenomenal. So the annual charade that surrounds the festive period is for me, very disheartening because of the sheer hypocrisy of it all.
I am sure you are aware that giving a lame man a pair of wedges is not charity, it is sheer wickedness.
And this is exactly what often happens as our politicians and other national predators, carry out their various circus and actions, which this time included the donation of solar power, lavish feasts and flowery speeches.
As their hypocrisy and vulgarity spoke truth to our national folly, it became more glaring that our leaders do not deploy funds for the public good, but for power acquisition.
Because of our seemingly genetically-embedded shallowness and mediocrity, they realise that the masses might sell their loyalty in exchange for crumbs that fall into their hands.
It occurred to me that our shallowness and lack of substance must be total and complete, if we believe that any politician is there for anything other than his pocket or his megalomania. It is why they strive with all intensity to become a colossus – economically or politically.
But the best don’t want to be the best. They just want to be, and in so doing, contribute so much more than our modern day thieving hustlers, who incredibly have actually convinced themselves that they are leaders. After all, a squadron of latrine flies also has a leader.
So if people cannot ordinarily feel their mystique, the season as well as the celebration of vices and their perpetrators becomes an opportunity to appear generous or time to increase the intensity of their altruistic nature, which they see as the key to acquiring political influence.
Apologies to any one offended by my reality. But as we enter the penultimate year before the next poll, we need to start assessing people for what they are, or are being made to appear at any point in time. Desire and intentions do not solve problems.
Governance needs to be more about the people and sustainable development. You and I may know the challenges, but are the people with their hands on the steering wheel, as well as those itching to take over the driving, on the same page? Are they sincere in their purported purposes?
Anyway, I said to myself in sheer optimism that nothing but a sociological process that will bring this cycle and our collective absurdity to pass, will suffice. I realised that our six million strong society needs to build a collective movement in which everyone knows exactly what is at stake, and which will take us out of our current state of denial and rottenness.
We can continue to tiptoe around it until we are again swallowed up by the sheer weight of our underdevelopment; but indeed, we need new processes that will salvage our very existence from the mixture of a dysfunctional foreign sociological, economic and political frameworks that we continually tip toe around.
Some problems cannot be effectively solved at the atomic level, but need a macro pattern which the people fill atomically.
This current ‘let everyman find a solution’ and eating the crumbs from the table of hustlers who hate to be shown up or foreign desperadoes, is the blue print for creating shanty towns and not a cohesive society.
Beyond the lack of infrastructure, corruption and the twin problem of economic instability and socio-political polarisation, it is clear that in the continued fight for one side to replace the other, our poli-trick-cians from all the parties are contributing to the pervasive rot in which we find ourselves.
They are the architects, whose ‘intellectual and political power’ are forcing our impoverished masses into spiritualism, desperation and humiliation. They know fully well that when we are forced to pretend long enough, we may not be able to recognise reality any more.
Fellow sierra Leoneans and our beloved youths, who in the desperation for what they perceive as the path to true change, are ready to die or fight everyone who criticise their political hero, please come closer and listen to my 2017 message to you. May our road be rough.
May your road be rough. (Apologies to the late Tai Solarin, one of Africa’s greatest humanist, social reformer and educationist). This is not meant as a curse.
I say so because for us to emerge from the ills threatening to drown us as a nation, we need to be truthful to ourselves and honestly examine our roles. There is no doubt that we urgently need inspired and visionary leadership, but the followership also has to awaken from its inertia.
Let me ask a fundamental question: where have all those politrickcians been, who storm towns and villages to donate, feed and jolly with the ‘masses’ during Christmas and other religious festivals? Roman Fiddlers’ Jamboree. Sad. Scary.
Perhaps, more than anything else, their hypocrisy displayed once more during the just concluded festivities, finally revealed the internal contradictions in their message of change and their portrait of being messiahs.
The chorus of hurrah that heralds such choreographed photo-shoots, is a very unfortunate indicator of how low we have sunk in our collective national intelligence.
So, Yumkella donated a solar power engine; so Maada Bio and Joseph Kamara fed thousands with their five loaves of bread and two fishes; Alie Kabba’s chariot of deliverance continued its tour of our garden of Eden; and God knows what the others did as their own contribution to humanity.
But my grouse is, why is this not a daily feature of their good deeds?
There is profound hunger and anger in the land. Why is their goodness and generosity mostly restricted to stomach infrastructure, or more pronounced at festive periods, despite the desperation, despair and other debilitating issues which are obviously not a priority for the government, standing up in sharp agony in several parts of the nation?
With all their wealth, what have they done to ease the challenges faced by the people in this regard?
As they shout from the rooftop about their ability to deliver us from our Egypt and the chariot of goodies they are bringing, let us ask them that, if they truly share the pains and identify with the problems of those victims of the endless circle of deepening poverty and underdevelopment.
What have been their widows’ mites in the last decade in the lives and needs of the ordinary people?
I’m not talking of the tokenism that somehow only find their way into our consciousness at times like these. How many of them, willing to spend a fortune to clinch the gravy steering, has set up an industry or manufacturing plant in Sierra Leone?
Why must serving the nation be only at the very top; and why must Armageddon fall if the quest for leadership fails?
The truth is that the masses are not included within the pale of their glorious progressive posturing, which when matched against the reality of their stewardship/ service to the oppressed fellow Sierra Leoneans around them, reveals the immeasurable distance between them and the interests of those they claim to be fighting for.
All they have done is to hack into our software of desperation and anguish. They are reflective of the true nature of our society. They must be challenged, interrogated and their public conduct and utterances closely scrutinised before we are again misled by their display of affection for our dear native land.
Behind their seeming dynamism and refreshed clamour for recognition as the promised messiah lies much that is disingenuously disguised as the answers to our woes.
Let’s stop being fans and become players in our own right. This is why I pray that our 2017 may be rough. I pray that our road will be so rough that we will begin to see that hustlers are at the very top everywhere, and they spew words and jargons while frantically seeking our weak points.
It is my prayer that the rough road ahead of us will make us appreciate that the solution to our problems of lawlessness, impunity, and corruption, lies in visionary leadership and strong institutions.
Oh! I pray that we realise that while those are significant planks of the solutions they are hollow and ineffective without some form of social revolution and evolution, which involves the forging of a collective attitude of hostility to the kind of society that we currently operate.
Maya Angelou once said….”if you don’t like something, change it, if you can’t change it, change your attitude towards it.” I pray that the rough road ahead will force us into collectively changing the direction of our governance and the way we choose those to pilot our affairs.
I entreat the ‘god’ of Sierra Leone to ensure that our road be so rough and that obstacles which are developmentally necessary to teach us critical thinking, resilience in fighting for an equitable society as well as resourcefulness in the face of our current hardship, will become our portion.
So before you die for your party, for your hero, or before you fight the entire community or those in the diaspora because of the artificial divisions created by the intelligent humans whose deliberate assumption as catalysts to control and subjugate us, rethink your life.
It is a shame but as my plea to the one above continued, I wondered: how do we change the rot we live in? So I prayed harder that all those insincere compatriots with agenda that have perpetually subjugated us all, be made to pay for their sins.
Dear readers, if our road is not rough, then we are going down farther than the abyss we currently find ourselves, despite the sweet nothings of those who want us to believe that our economic and socio-political plain is on a smooth road.
Anyway, a smooth road is only good for sliding. In climbing higher, what we need is a rough terrain… for friction…to be able to grip and hold firm.
The reality is that the Sierra Leone economy is a paperweight, basking in the aggrandizement of a heavyweight. We are just like a hungry guy with a bowl of fried rice, trying to eat with a shovel. We will forever be hungry, unless we get a spoon of our size and start somewhere to look inwards for our survival medicine.
May our road be rough so that we can see that our leaders are full of phonetics, while the economy and the plight of the people, speaks Krio. So that we can appreciate that our choristers of change, who cruise around in convoys bought with the commonwealth of the people, hardly understand the issues at stake.
A river that forgets its source is bound to dry up. We have forgotten our source; but in order not to dry up, may our road be rough so that we can reconnect with our origins and marry it with our present in order to flow into a smooth future.
Our problem is that we are all chasing after money, and our governments running after foreign dosh but yet producing nothing.
Production is the be all and end all. That’s why they measure gross national product or gross domestic product. Manoeuvring space when you don’t know how to dribble with the ball is wasted space, to be honest.
If our road is rough, we’ll realise that a country’s exchange rate is its current score in the never ending daily world cup of economic production. Our iron ore, just like our diamond, are like free penalty kicks. At some point we need to start scoring field goals. But when our keeper is playing centre forward, God help us.
When you have measurement but no cloth, you are insecure, resentful and very afraid. That’s our leadership. That’s our so called country. We shall get to full stop before we start thinking again.
That is why we need our road to be rough as there is only one sustainable solution, produce and create values that are not reliant on outside forces, but which others will pay for. Wishes aren’t horses and desire is different from energy, potential or otherwise.
Much as I hate to admit it, even to myself, we are looking screwed, due to lack of capacity. And this we will begin to realise, is the real cost of the half a century years of looting fiesta that we pretended was resource-based development and our arrival as a global economic player. Even self-delusion ultimately comes to an end.
Allocation of funds for vanity projects and swapping one foreign journey-walker for another in charge of our precious natural resources, does not equate effective and efficient implementation of development. We need to start focusing on real productivity and outputs. That’s what the people will feel.
Telling people that you’ll allocate loads of dosh and new faces are on their way to our living room, when their hunger and suffering index has not moved an inch, or has even declined, only accentuates a more excruciating, hunger-fuelled anger.
When enough of us feel that way and come to the realisation that in the long run we are all dead, then, he who is already writhing on the ground and already dead while alive, will have no fear.
We are speeding towards criticality, God save us all. Apologies, I take that back. God does not do engineering, but he can bless the engineer. Faith without works is nothing. You cannot add a catalyst when you don’t have any reaction to catalyse. It is about returning to the values that bind and prosper and installing a performance-based meritocracy.
See why I pray that our road be rough?