Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 11 July 2016
You know something? It appears that we are in for a ride again, as the clock ticks towards the next election. Why? Because, too many of us are smirking when we should be raging.
We are behaving like a cat with arthritis, hobbling along the carriages of a train at the edge of a cliff, hoping that someone builds a bridge before we hit the gorge. We are now a people yet to come to terms with certain modern realities, caught between nostalgia and the future.
Rather than endeavour to rethink our socio-political and ethical values, which has become essential for us to have good governance, we seem sucked into the flawed strategical reasoning of our leaders and their ‘we are the builders’ baloney; forgetting that a lion can never give birth to a goat.
With just twenty months to the emergence of a ‘new’ leader to pilot the affairs of an already battered nation, what I can see on the current horizon of our existence, is the larger than life images of political cannibals and necrophilia’s in the corridors of power, who continue to eat us raw and screw our cadavers.
Parallel to them are actors straight from the old Wild Westmedical-shows, who are busy dazzling the crowd with ventriloquism and magic tricks; while peddling a nostrum of difference to the masses, who just want to believe that it is possible for an upliftment in their present condition.
We continue to wait for the political class to dictate the next line of our lives, while we get stuck in the mistaken belief that there is still hope in the current bunch of hustlers, rent seekers and buccaneers of any of the existing parties.
As the tumbleweed rolls across our scorched political horizon, the reputation and image of politicians, who see the people only as good as an election ticket to be used and discarded like a used tissue paper, is so tarnished that it lies in the sewage.
Despite the realisation that the fluent stream of our plausibilities demonstrates that any hope of a so-called economic powerhouse lies in tatters at the moment, yet, there seems to be no convulsions shaking our politics and the way forward.
Instead, we continue to interchange hustling capacity for competence, and channel our collective psyche off the rails and on to the path of agendas that are flawed, full of dubious heights and wishful thinking.
For years our governance has been riddled with the same fake cures, side shows, circus acts and smoke and mirrors. We continue to describe our canoe as a yacht.
Yet, the whispers of the wind indicate clearly that the people are bitter with our leaders; they are angry; they are dejected by a life of squalor amid plenty. And they are confused as to how the nation will come out of this self-inflicted mess.
As they watch their kingdom turn into an arid ground, the poorer members of society are beginning to ask whether our brand of democracy and the comic dysfunction on offer, has anything to bring to their already bare table beyond the harbinger of imminent chaos.
There is no Sierra Leonean I know who is happy with the country’s state of affairs today, except those with the oil of our till on their hands.
And if there is any evidence of why we are where we are today, it is simply that despite the 24 carat national disaster that currently envelopes the racket we’ve been calling an economy or progressive governance for so long, many of us have come to accept the degrading situation of our existence, instead of critically engaging in thinking about the sinking boat called Sierra Leone.
We are all guilty of polluting the national aspiration by making truth a dirty word and twisting facts to undermine and destroy the very future that we long and pray for.
But our situation today is influenced by our yesterday, just as what we are experiencing now, would inevitably form the backdrop to future developments.
So, it is not the time to build up false hope, nor is it the period to allow those drugged by power or the allure of it, to enjoy moments of reckless self-indulgence at our expense.
Unfortunately, indications are that those who claim to be best placed to save us from the rot and who are armed with populist rhetoric, are on the path of victory.
Experience tells us that when people are not happy with their governments or their circumstances, they are ready to make any choice that looks like an alternative.
Democracy is a play-field of emotions, so it is pertinent to remember that not only is the environment polluted, those who have been benefitting from the prevalent corruption that characterise our system, as well as those licking their lips in anticipation, are oiling their guns with this salient fact.
The earlier we all realise and reinforce that which unite us in the pursuit of a better nation and discard all primordial sensibilities in a bid to salvage this country, the better for us all.
The difference between what exists now and where we have been aiming for, is akin to that between sleep and death.
The focus of the down-trodden, since they realised from the despicable behaviour of the current crop of leaders, that their future is not as clear as 7-UP, has already shifted to the next ‘saviour’, the next root and branch claptrap and the next breath taking political conjuring trick.
It means that, we are heading for the same old mistakes, same old sentiments and same old production factory, simply because there are no laudable and decent impartial explanation and analysis of the political and economic vision, integrated into the national psyche, especially the mentality of those on the lower rung of the social ladder.
We need to ensure that policies and actions that have been full of sound and fury, egos and fruitless big ideas; as well as gags and grandstanding by political infidels and fanatics, indicative of the insipid and catastrophic performances of our leaders, no longer define the nation’s governance.
Without doubt, the fragmenting of our politics and people is one of the reasons for our continued under-development. And this is due to a systemic failure that has, to varying degrees, consumed the best of minds in the ethno-political fire of our societal evolution.
Yes, there have been sound ideology and rhetoric, but the nation and its leaders have continued to struggle terribly with delivering the vision of the masses for the future.
Our leaders, in particular, still display a mindset and mental inhibitions that are essentially a hindrance to long term strategic educational, political, socio-economic, and cultural revolution.
As it is, our economy and governance cannot inspire a drunken investor to perform at a development karaoke that we put up. The more the government tries to cover its spot, the more it shines through their political skin.
Most of its actions amount to no more than sticking a plaster on a gangrenous gaping national wound.
Continuing to wave a political and economic shroud with what sounds like a nauseating contempt for reality, amounts to an unlovable traits of arrogance and paranoia, in a system which is not only mutually exclusive, but which is now getting its rightful comeuppance.
That the government still believes that it is on top of things, says much about its tenuous hold on reality. Having led the nation up the garden path, the trouble now is that the government is going nowhere. But it does not realise that the people don’t want to follow it.
Tell me, who can fulfil President Koroma’s pie-in-the-sky prediction of prosperity for all, by the end of his tenure, despite the current brittleness of its delivery so far?
It is cringe worthy and a chastening experience to continue to see the unedifying predicament of a nation so rich, so blessed and so beautiful. Especially, every time I read about Sierra Leone and its begging bowls and realise that even with all the help we get from those ‘charitable’ enough to lend us a hand, you can count on the fingers of Captain Hook, how many all-encompassing palliatives have frittered down to the generality of the people.
Yet, the metastasis of economic ruins was gestated by our leaders who reprobately managed the profligate looting of our common patrimony, and who have been impervious to the fact that our society is as fractured as the crockery thrown at the wall, in an ugly family fight.
The broken pieces are what we have come to label as poor, rich educated, uneducated, Creole, Limba, Temne, Mende, APC, SLPP, PMDC, etc.
This is why the political class and other reactionary forces continue to fan the embers of predictable resistance, and make hackneyed references to issues that divide rather than unite us, which have become stumbling blocks to our desired progress.
Consequently, Sierra Leoneans are totally sold on the myth that the nation’s perennial failure, especially in the last five years, is a blip rather than an encore of what has become the norm under a mollycoddled and ethnically-oriented political class, incubated from the real world and which is unable to appreciate what it believes to be the whinging and unrealistic expectancy of a traumatised followership.
But if we are to indeed leave the bus stop of under development, Sierra Leone’s future should begin with a reality check and its political class ought to take a large dose of humility.
Because, the truth is that once you have gone native, you are no longer doing your job.
Today is pregnant. Let’s see what tomorrow will deliver. The initial exciting propositions by the government to make a statement about the time that will live on after us, are now spluttering along, buffeted by political crosswinds and a repugnant passion which is past insidious and which has assumed an indelible stain on our governance and its pilots. We are in the middle of a rumbling earthquake.
Those of us who do not regard corruption as a pathology, but as the lifeblood of a demented society and economy, find it distasteful when the focus is shifted and there is a rush to slam the doors shut on the canker worm in the system as well as the manic, hysterical weeping of the ‘huge’ transformation said to be on offer for the generality of the people. .
The national inability to see beyond the lenses of sentiments and view reality from empirical point, and not from cheap hypothesis, is why with less than two years to go and in spite of all the traumas we’ve been through, we can still fold our hands and watch the country continue to slide to the point where a new set of shameless parasites and hustlers with no liver and who have no principles to stand on, but obsessional syndrome, will end up mounting the saddle, as we begin to moan once more.
As we wade through the fierce storms of contemporary Sierra Leone, it has become imperative that love of the country and basic human decency dictate that a more pertinent line of questioning from now on, rejects an amalgamation of intellectual sophistry with the dereliction of truth.
Are we void of understanding? Well, I don’t think so even though it seems our succession of slow-thinking, material-deranged, navel-gazing leaderships have more than ensure this.
We need a divine generational turn around. We just cannot allow a decision about our future to continue to be decided on a false option that seems to negate long-term interests.
We might not feel comfortable about it, but there is now an urgent need to establish a fundamental difference in the current power structure and societal thinking, if we are to forge ahead triumphantly to our origins.