Sierra Leone – once a treasure trove of childhood memories – now a marshy political eyesore

Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 17 July 2017

I don’t know why, but I have a sickening feeling that we are heading for a political crisis in Sierra Leone ahead of next year’s elections. I pray it is not so. But the political scene is eerily too muddled up and quiet for my liking; and with less than eight months to go and an incumbent not ‘expected’ to remain in post, the serene atmosphere – even in the ruling party, is rather discomforting.

Anyway, that was just a thought. As more and more political scheming and tacticians emerge for the race to State House, a modified version of Romans 16:18 might therefore read something like this: “For they that are such, serve not the people of Sierra Leone, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches, deceive the hearts of the simple”.

I find it disconcerting that at the end of another ten-year period, in which an all-powerful ‘grass-cutter’ and numerous ‘rodents’ have trampled all ethical standards and shown no sign of reasonable political behaviour that the country solely needs from them, we are simply getting ready to return to the caravan park-of-disappointment.

But then, I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that there is a fundamental character defect in the average Sierra Leonean. Opportunity and environment, causes it to manifest.

Less than 0.001% has dealt with that defect. They are the ones that often stand out in our moral morass. However, that 0.001% minuscule number (wondering where they can be found?) is the very reason that our change will have to come, in-spite of us and not by our power. A sad and still saddening truth.

Agreed that there is hardly anyone, who has not been tainted by our societal morass. The issue is a matter of degree. For those of us with less than 30% of the plague, we should come together and raise up a standard against the continual decline and descent of our society into the abyss of decay.

The fundamental questions that surround the basis of the current struggle for a more inclusive society and a governance that is fit for purpose, which began with the ten-year imbroglio of the ‘90’s, are yet to be answered. And these are the major challenges facing the nation today.

Yet, that is not the implicit narratives of most of those who aspire to the post of leaders and who, it is increasingly obvious, do not know what it is to know, about being under water and knowing how to swim. All they look forward to is the chequered flag, for their coronation.

We, as a system, have gone critical and have activated a self-adaptive structure in which no deliberate control is possible any more, no matter how it looks to the loyal pair of eyes; except there is a tide to force us out of our comfort zones. Now appears such a time.

Clearly, one of the missing links is the need to adopt and ingrain the principles and values of fairness, order, and respect for our collectivity.

Right now, there is too much deception and political distractions, designed solely for the benefits of those who make it impossible for the citizens to decipher the truth about virtually everything, thereby complicating very simple issues.

I am aware that when an issue doesn’t align with some people’s thinking they label it a complaint or dismiss it as nothing new. But to me, stating the problem starkly and repeatedly is not complaining.

It is simply the freedom that comes from not wanting crumbs from the table of those who have cornered the commonwealth of our nation. That grates the minds, to no end.

Do we wish ourselves well, when a handful commandeer the resources meant for all, only to sink them into idle concrete blocks and fast obsolescing material-goods as well as their personal closets, while leaving our people unable to confront the challenges of our times?

Isn’t it about time we stop playing the victim and take our destiny into our own hands? Isn’t it enough of self-victimisation which is the worst form of psychological ailment.

Yes – Sierra Leone is a great country – raped by a few. Unfortunately, in dealing with the rapists you must agree that such conversations that border on disparaging the country becomes very necessary, if not almost late too. We should never have stopped talking from when the slide from our enviable height began in the 1980’s. We did.

Fair enough. On my part, talking now is not out of any altruism, it is out of selfishness to see whatever is left of mine and that of future generations, thrive in a truly great Sierra Leone.

This is why I am sure that when the masses come to realise fully, that all they are doing is worshiping their oppressors, their music will change to that of freedom-for-the-people.

Already, the dwindling popularity of most of the old brigades on the political landscape and the cynicism towards those who seem to have attained ‘political almightiness’ and cotton-tree image all of a sudden, is a reflection of the quality of leaders that our system keeps producing.

Sierra Leone – once a veritable treasure trove of childhood memories, has obviously been turned into a marshy political eyesore and a looters’ enclave. It is fast becoming a parody of a country where loyalty has overtaken objectivity in a sign of perpetual mediocrity.

Laughable – if not that the lives of millions are being toyed with willy-nilly by an indolent political class. Our reality has collapsed into banal theatre. How sad, because that’s not the Sierra Leone that nurtured and nourished me. That’s not the Sierra Leone of our dreams.

I am proudly Sierra Leonean despite its imperfections. I will not give up on my country. We all owe the future generations that much. We failed and where possible we should try to make amends by holding to account, those whose sole aim is power and the attendant greed.

I don’t believe in deriding my country, because I love it beyond recall and that is why I believe in calling a spade a spade.

But we have been playing the ostrich for too long, and that is why we see evil and keep quiet. Deride the country – no, I deride those whose action and inaction, including those of us that kept quiet, while the madness lasts.

Now, put aside for a moment, the merits and demerits of our development indices in the last decade, simply because when the macro is flawed, analysing the micro is a waste of energy and grey matter. Deep resistance to the unpalatable is a deeply human attribute.

Our corrupt governance means we are not able to deploy our high population of brain boxes optimally in meeting the challenges of our times; something man has generally done well.

We don’t have many achievers to knock, because many have already fled and the majority of those left behind have been humiliated and impoverished into a combo of helplessness and obscurity, leaving only the “adapted”, who by definition, will tell the hustlers what they want to hear. Sad.

Even the masses, who don’t seem to know what is at stake anymore, are further befuddled by the emerging narratives of our political combo theatre of the absurd in the name of governance.

Therefore, unless the failed ideologies of existing parties and most of the current political elites are masterfully and forensically demolished, what looks like an arcane move by some of the gladiators, as the current national leadership strives to cling on to the pantomime of the last ten years, will turn out to be nothing but a struggle for the very soul of the nation. Hopefully, that is ephemeral.

My sincere prayer is that in the blind determination to be rid of the current crop of political locusts on the landscape, we don’t correct a wrong with a wrong. But, we are the ones that can, and should begin to effect corrective measures to save our society. We must sift the wheat from the chaff, going forward.


  1. Wow, truth hurts! Agree, the state of the country is ground zero. We know what the issues are and how to fix it. But if we do nothing,the cycle will continue. So, when do we throw the bath water out and make Sierra Leone the queen of Africa?

  2. Thanks brother, I deeply agree with you on all points. Sierra Leone has changed but for bad. It seems the masses are not aware of the problems the country is facing. Sierra Leone, once a lovely country has become a country for looters as if they were at war. Development once promised is a decade long to be implemented. Because elections are near the government is trying to please the bereaved starting something that could have been dead by now. Looting has become a prime act of the politicians and those who want to be. Can Sierra Leone be ever cured from self destructions?

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