Sierra Leone – our problems are man made and our salvation firmly in our hands

Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 9 December 2016

“We rode over what they have called the longest bridge in the world, which is over 40 kilometers and these are all inspirational visits. They have inspired me to work very hard on seeing the commencement of the Mamamah project,” said president Koroma on his recent visit to China.

There you have it. A grand failure to learn to be pragmatic. An illustration of what I mean by money or fantasy projects on its own, neither solving problems nor creating a wealth-building nation.

Aren’t we all complicit in a destructive flight to drive the country to the abyss, by such irrational choices that we make?

Given the existential crisis we find ourselves, I find this submission the most mismatched nuances and superlative instincts for imagining a best of times corporate capacity, that can innovatively turn up the nation’s heartbeat of economic revival.

Why then do we continue to wonder why our society is shallow, corroded and incapacitated, when the image before us is that of a facade for substance; which does nothing but punch another hole in a ship that is already taking on water.

As long as our leaders continue to measure success and progress by the number of whimsical projects all over the place, the amount in their banks and the size of their mansions, then hope of an enduring long term security and essential progress of the nation will remain a silly and unwelcome assault on our warped sensibilities.

President Koroma’s obsession with the airport phenomenon, despite national and international outcry, rather than a nationwide rail link or bridges, is just a microcosm of a larger demon living in all of us. We are the creations of what we wanted from this era and whatever has thus become our portion.

Fellow Sierra Leoneans, it is not the structure that is responsible for the misery in the land. Rather it is the manner of governance and the puerile knowledge of our leadership, about the process of economic development. Big, does not begin to capture the magnitude of our problems and the lack of human capacity, especially of the leadership kind.

Here we are at sea, in the middle of a socio-economically and politically broken society and a thoroughly despondent mass of anguished people, being forced by a political class bereft of creative ideas and star-gazing the good in another land; but taking the worst of the options for the path of sustainable, irreversible, positive economic revolution.

Being led by the nose by those who keep claiming to know what is good for our headache when the pain is actually in our hearts,a blind and unskillful handling of the economy and other sundry matters of national priority, the green snake of destruction, corruption and subjugation, planted in the sub-conscious of our leaders, continue to fester; making them come out with fragmented national vision, far from that of the rest of the populace.

Our incomparable genius, to clone anything platonically, has not only left us with a ton of mess in a putrefying mode, it is the ultimate encapsulation of the reality that in our society and at the behest of our leaders, we seem to have sent intelligence on compulsory vacation and watched helplessly as our oft repeated and somersaulting logic, is finally resting on its head.

Our pedigree as a people is what has been churning out leaders who cared less about polluting the sanctity of temple of justice and governance and thriving more on entitlement mentality amidst social disconnect. Their current approach to the cure of this recession is apparently one of trying to make omelette without breaking eggs.

If China recognises the need to build what is the longest bridge in the world, and we prefer to shy away from doing same, which will open up more of the country, then what does that say about our long term priorities? A pile of IOU’s for the nation and bulging pockets for the leaders, in place of sustainable development for the generality of the people.

If the United Kingdom shies away from the Heathrow Airport expansion debacle, simply for pollution and some social reasons as well as the extension of its super rail system because of the exorbitant costs, why are we, a nation reeling in debt and which can hardly feed itself, committed to one project over several gaping societal economic and national problems confronting us and crying out for attention?

This is how our beloved nation is being bled nearly to death; sold into modern slavery by those who refuse to be the inspiring voice of hope and the harbinger of an effective leader-led synergy, built on trust and mutual understanding of a common national vision.

There are too many yawning drainage. It is most unwise for this country to continue to throw scarce resources down drain pipes, especially now that our reality points to the grave being very, very close for many. This culture of waste under the guise of the adoption of economic vision and systemic matrix economic models, must stop.

Our people are dying due to a poor and even unaffordable healthcare system, the cost of foodstuff has soared high in the market because we produce jack shit; the country has suffered from massive brain drain that it will take a long time for this anomaly to be rectified.

There is social distrust and a frightening memory of hardship and sufferings in the absence of social intervention programmes and investments; the much-promised agricultural activities to make us a food basket and a self-reliant nation is still in the realm of imagination nine years down the line, while power is on a shift system and the cost of fuel drives everything else into overdrive.

What about the absence of a more comprehensive economic plan to marshal out roadmap to turn around the economy and reposition our country on the path of sustainable growth and development? No. these are side issues that should become a by-product of an international airport. Wow, see how far this wisdom has taken us.

What enrages me when I hear or read about the suffering of the oppressed majority and the cries of many Sierra Leoneans who have been reduced to eating just a single malnourished meal a day, is why the Pa and his court, delight in spreading nothing but hardship and poverty while toasting the health of foreign beneficiaries of our resources and the source of our servitude. It stirs anger in me and many.

Is it because the crew that has created the economic carnage are about to walk away, that they turn deaf ears to the unease and expensive relationship, in an economic arrangement that cannot be offset by our woeful challenges and high costs of debt. Why are they behaving like a cotard syndrome sufferer?

Some people have resigned to fate, hoping that there will be divine intervention someday. They are dejected by a life of squalor and the mess that we continually find ourselves every so often. Bitterness fills their hearts against our leaders as the same problems keep recurring in our existence.

Has it occurred to those hell bent on pleasing others at the expense of the country, that the Kissy-Tagrin bridge, which we have failed to build for decades now, not only opens up a link to the rest of the country, it gives us the opportunity to begin to shift some of the congestion in Freetown, as a thirty minute drive to work will not be found too cumbersome.

Right now, given the existential crisis we have once more found ourselves, there is just something sad, shallow and sinister about the way we think and about our collective definition and understanding of the kind of mindset and deep intellectual curiosity that keeps creating the sorrow, tears and blood which makes Sierra Leone to continue to wallop from one misstep to a near fall.

We are where we are today because for so long, our daily life has been piloted by people who are constantly selling mediocrity to us and pleading with us to understand that they have made life a tiny wee better for us and so, to accept whatever life comes our way, because it is already good enough.

They want us to appreciate the fact that on the surface, we look no different from any other country in similar economic throes. Yet, we are being shielded from realising that, for example, the real difference is that most of the other economies have actual human capacity and management skills. They have less of the shallow cheesy, tacky, bone- headedness and gathering of hyenas, which passes for leadership in Sierra Leone.

But our problems are man-made and our salvation is therefore firmly in our hands.

Our stubborn refusal to change our value system and mindset is what is constantly taking us, courtesy of our leaders, on a journey through the wilderness. It is the poison being injected into our sinew by those we hand power to, which is now killing us slowly.

So, come to think of it: should we really be complaining, since the existing system is how we have arranged to organise ourselves for the task of nation building? Are we not the agents; and therefore collectively, an accomplice or accessory after the fact?

If the country is rapidly going grey in all fronts, haven’t we all kept our peace, even in the throes of the madness of the seizure of the land by the menace of corruption and impunity?

One of our biggest mistakes as a nation and a people, by the proverbial country mile, is that we turned our backs on the truth that, what a people tolerate and accept, what they rationalize and live with, in the socio-political and economic spheres, determines whether they belong in the present age or they are still struggling to find a way out of civilizations past.

As agents, we lost the focus that without us, there is no system indeed. We cared less about managers who just wanted to fill their water vessels and revel in wanton opulence, fed strictly from pens that signed away our commonwealth and sold us into modern day slavery.

Some of us could not reason beyond our frontal lobes, whenever a dissenting voice rises up to draw our attention to the need for common sense.

When we were urged to take a critical look at the fact that our so called prosperity is a victim of lazy-wealth, and not a result of hard work or enduring values that will develop our human and natural resources for the long term, we castigated them as political, religious and ethnic enemies.

Our different interpretations of equity and justice made us tolerant of the mockery, which our leadership made of our collective suffering at the height when our straw economy, was simply gliding on foreign assistance and the wiles of unscrupulous investors, instead of sustainable productivity.

That’s Sierra Leone today. Sad. Very sad indeed. A den of corruption, by a gang of unarmed robbers. The graveyard of the living dead.

It is time to start building real and sustainable wealth. Enough of what used to be…a visionless socio-economic vacuum. God will help Sierra Leone, but we must begin by helping ourselves.

The land is in peril and devoid of any real or imagined blueprint for recovery.

If we are truly desirous of changing the political and economic topography of our landscape forever, there must be true and palpable demand for change by the masses. We must enforce our collective right for equitable and just distribution of national resources so as to provide the basic necessities of life.

There must be an end to the fire brigade approach or the long abandoned neo-classical, ultra-capitalism models, which are not suitable for us. Otherwise our path towards economic revolution, will continue to be painfully extended and the road of our progress, extremely rough.

The totally decadent system which is pivoted on the tripod of injustice, impunity and corruption, on offer, is one of the reasons why the country continues to suffer brain drain. It is also why the children of those who consigned us to the back side of the desert, continue to do the same things and even worse ones, to ensure that they continue to impoverish and emasculate the rest of us.

It is why the vibrant and energetic citizens that would have developed this country in their active days are helping to build other economies and strengthening the futures of those nations, while cursing the land of their birth, which wallows in the mire.

It has not yet dawned on most of us that everyone has a stake, and we, more than the current national leadership, have a higher stake in helping to get the country out of its current mess; because it is not he who causes it, that cures it.

After all, the problems we are facing today were already looming not only before the last general elections, but ever since we parted ways with truth, justice and the very societal ethos, that once made us, the Athens of West Africa; a nation envied and adored. (TO BE CONTINUED).

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