Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 9 November 2015
Ebola has exposed our need for improvement, vision, planning and continuity. The question is: How can this victory translate to something higher?
Already, our leaders, rather than express the inherent flaws in their focus hitherto, are beginning to brainwash us with mere slogans and empty promises. They want us to believe that we can form a 21st century nation by wishful thinking and political rascality.
They fail to appreciate that it is only in geometry that a straight line is the shortest distance between two points.
As usual, they are not emphasising to themselves and to we as followers, that until we reinstitute those mechanisms for social justice and equity from top to bottom, we will continue spitting in the wind. Besides, if we all think the same way, then nobody thinks.
Which is why, every time Sierra Leone flashes through my mind, I weep. My heart bleeds for our motherland and I feel frustrated. My soul aches. I cry for the generations to come.
For example, often times in the life of this administration, we have heard or watched officials and segments of the media scream like an electric guitar in a crowd of drums, in gleeful celebration of President Koroma’s visits to some far-flung countries for a summit, or to sign bilateral agreements that will only end up costing us our resources and line the pockets of unscrupulous individuals. I shudder and shake my head in disbelief and pain.
For students of history and those old enough to remember, some of these countries were nations that we were far better than, or at worst, on the same level of development with, when we attained independence.
Yet, with breath-taking tripe, we are meant to embrace what should be an instrument of torture and bring out the drums when a nation like India invites our leaders to come for talk; or even when most of the Arab countries such as Dubai, that were nothing but deserts when we were flush with wealth, shower some left-overs of their fortune on us.
Worse still, our leaders steal our inheritance and go and lavish them in some of these emerging power houses. How sad.
As the socio-political and economic life of our beloved nation continues to fall fast into the abyss of corruption, impunity and hopelessness, I struggle to believe that we aren’t really going anywhere and it is all motion without locomotion.
You bet, the entire fabric of our society is affected. Custodians of morals have become morally bankrupt. Our society is in a state of moral weightlessness. The moral compass is going around in chaos as Sierra Leone freefalls to decadence.
Churches, mosques, the executive, judiciary, legislature as well as other social, cultural, political and economic institutions have become instruments of greed and mere houses of business transactions, where false promises of prosperity are the commodities – and graft, a badge of honour. It seems our gods are sleeping.
Parents are no longer parenting and their utmost wish is for their kids to make it anyhow and anyway by becoming bread winners at any costs. From the primary school through to the university level, civic responsibilities have become an alien subject and education overall, just a phase of life.
Our leaders have stopped leading morally, but encourage us to become criminals like them and even on their own terms.
This is the underlying reason why our people suffer so much poverty in the midst of great prosperity.
All because a clique of men will use the machinery of violence, power and other nefarious means to perpetuate themselves in power; or to unleash their brand of strangulating terror on the people, or on their parties and circles, as well as to make more and more money, which unfortunately has become the only language that our society understands.
When I exchange views with the young and the old, at home and abroad, I realise that the nation is sick, and the earlier we face that fact the better for us.
When I see the desperation of some of those aspiring to be leaders, my heart misses a beat. I am pained and I weep for my dear Sierra Leone. Where do we go from here? How long can we stand aside and look? Even, why?
What a shame that the country has become one of pain for the majority and a prized asset for some desperadoes. It hurts me to see bright minds continue to do crazy things because the country has betrayed their future. Some perish, in a bid to get away from it all.
The system has failed us, which is all I can say. It dawns on me that the time is ripe for a massive re-orientation of values and the comprehensive rehabilitation of the psyche of the people, old and young, Christian and Muslim, Pastor and Imam, women and even children.
That is the challenge we need to take up collectively or through patriotic social and pseudo-political groups.
As a matter of fact, it is my considered opinion that were it possible, breeding a new set of Sierra Leoneans whose DNA is not tainted by the several vices that are strangulating our society, would be much easier than our current merry-go-round at fuelling the depravities in our system in which our leaders pretend to set up the likes of the Anti-Corruption Commission or the moral tone for change.
Both would work to save the situation, but the former will have a more lasting effect on our polity. All of this shows deep seated structural and governance crisis as well as dysfunctional political education system.
Although the god of morality appears to have left Sierra Leone on the last bus, the god of hope it seems, still lives in the country. However, the followership, meaning you and me, must be ready to take the bitter pills that will cure our maladies. We need a new covenant with our maker.
Our priorities should be on a scale of preference. Today around the world, countries trudge ahead and look forward. But they take time to look back and see where they are coming from. They do not live in the present and sleep in the past, they do not suffer in the present and dream in the past as our leaders want us to be doing.
They do not long for a future whose sketch is a diagram in the realm of the imagination. You cannot hope to march in one direction and then face the very opposite direction. Backwardness is the result. The people need to be led in the right direction.
If we all think the same way and accept that this is a war that is unwinnable and that we are all doomed, then it means nobody is thinking. It means we have conceded to our Goliath and we sure need a David for deliverance.
Which is why, I feel frustrated and powerless in a system that does not truly care about anything. A system, that refuses to support creativity or innovation. I feel and muse on the national sense of hopelessness and helplessness on our collective problem and cultural loss as a nation.
I have heard government officials, party supporters and some citizens say our nation is doing very well and that this government has transformed our society into a new ‘world’.
But when you ask them for evidence, they, like President Koroma and his orchestra members, talk of our much-improved cities, electricity, health facilities and better roads and schools, as well as the influx of the Chinese and other wheeler-dealers in the heartland of our inheritance.
Fair enough. Within the realm of their conception of development, micro-achievement is worth far more celebration than a long term commitment and steady progress ‘ to macro development, given the depth of our human and natural resources, even though these evidences also expose the depth of our backwardness.
Sometimes, I think our society has bred psychopaths by celebrating mediocrity and enthroning psychotic leadership. The consequences of this long term decadence in our society, is what is making it extremely difficult to rouse ourselves into the limitless world of development around us.
These devilish tendencies depicted by our lack of empathy and reckless disregard for other people’s emotional and physical wellbeing is replicated by our leaders’ lack of conscience in their daily dealings, which then inflicts serious damage on both the nation and its people, without those leaders caring about the consequences.
Theirs is of a hand to mouth thinking – a kind of subsistence living, with no sense of history to conceptualise the possibility of posterity.
The brazen declaration of joy and temporal fulfilment in fraudulent activities by the negatively sharp youths of today, have found their way into virtually every segment of our society, and currently influences a lot of our compatriots – both old and young, to seek solace in the world of crime.
Since the youths of yesterday are the leaders of today and those of today the leaders of tomorrow, the danger lies in the fact that these vices, which have been transferred into governance, will remain there in the years to come, unless urgent actions, including a massive reorientation of our society is carried out to curb this unwholesome belief and trend.
The anti-social criminality pervading our daily lives depicts the permeating thought-pattern of the average Sierra Leonean today. They show a mentality which says “make it anyhow” and a culture that celebrates anyone with the most amount of money, irrespective of how such obscene wealth is acquired.
This is why our nation has continually been rated as one of the most corrupt countries on the face of the planet. The present desperate struggle for wealth at any cost which is the hallmark of today’s Sierra Leone was a thing of shame and reproach in days of yore.
Today, the theme of our national life has changed in line with the moral slip that characterises this generation. But really, who is to blame for this mess? Shall we blame the youths of today, or shall we lay the blame at the feet of the passing generation?
The fault clearly lies at the feet of the passing generation. A generation of socio-political, economic and religious leaders who crumbled a brilliant legacy laid down by the founding fathers of our nation.
Whether it is the political class or the military that incursed into our existence briefly, corruption became the lingua franca of our nation.
It has since weaved itself into the very moral fabric of our lives, so much so that a whole generation of Sierra Leoneans cannot really identify corruption anymore. And I am not talking of treasury looting alone.
From the open endorsement by Siaka Stevens, corruption and its entailing impunity have not only taken an upward swing, they have both become the norm of our society that subsequent leaders to this day have glorified and embellished. It has become a mantra and the oath of their office.
The society reeks of this thought pattern; the government executes it with ingenuity and our religious leaders who should be the last bastion of morality, celebrate it shamelessly.
This is the country that the present generation grew in. This is the nation they grew up to know. This is the culture that shaped their thought pattern. And as they grew up, the street wise among them embraced newly evolving crimes, and a generation continues to sink in the mire of moral decadence and national disaster.
Dear readers, I don’t wish to cavil, but the real truth is that Sierra Leone, which is our home, does not, and has never ever disappointed us. Rather it is US that have let the country down, time and time again.
Our inheritance is sure and constant. But we seem to do everything to show that we are not entirely worthy of it. Our Sierra Leone is blessed and will remain forever blessed.
To see the nature of our abundance and the glorious future that we have collectively helped to ruin, each of us need constantly to commit to the change we seek in others and which we are desirous of.
We need to strive and even lust for the realisation of that vision at all costs. We need to fight for the restoration of the type of bureaucracy that was broken by the political class about four decades ago, because of their selfishness.
It was then that our administrative systems went to pots. It was the beginning of cluelessness and the end to orderly thinking and any enduring sense of patriotism, decency, organisation and the wherewithal to make the nation great.
Enough buck passing. We need to go back to basics. How? The same way we entice family and friends to our current recklessness. The same way our churches evangelise and our mosques lure new converts. The same way our political parties lure the unsuspecting masses towards their idealistic fantasies.
The difference is: the message. We have to spread the message of the end of exploitation of one another, and let those down trodden members of our society realise the true power that they have.