Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 9 August 2016
When national discourse deliberately uses soft words to hide hard crimes or impunity, then you know that as a society, you are up the proverbial creek with no paddle.
This is what manifests as corruption and the evolution of a country of hustlers per excellence.
Right now, our politics is constitutionally immoral and unbelievably depressing, simply because some of the utterances emanating from our leaders and supposed guardians of our moral values and the sentries of social justice, only confirm that what we have in place is indeed a leadership of the most unprincipled and the very worst among us.
Little wonder that despite their insistence and efforts to make us believe that all is sweetness and light, even in the darkest recess of our current realities, not much positivity has emerged from the dead man’s footsteps that we have been trailing.
Instead, it is now pitiably borne out that, like history shows, most leaders don’t get it until it is too late.
Reading the finance minister’s emphatic declaration that the much-maligned Mamamah airport project will definitely go ahead, irrespective of the feelings of the majority of the people of Sierra Leone, I realised that our current delinquent pipe and slippers political leadership are unwavering in the determination to napalm the future of our nation.
No fable writer could have invented the men and women who waste their country’s time and resources on such farcical thinking, and who prefer to jump in bed with negative forces that are hell bent on feeding on the carcass of a famished nation, so long as their bank balances swell beyond the everlasting needs of any sane human being. (Photo: Finance minister Kargbo – right, talking about the new airport project).
In their ignorance, they forget to appreciate the fact that if wealth is the secret to happiness, then kids of the rich should be dancing on the streets. But only the kids of the poor do that.
Blindly driven by insatiable lust for personal gains, and of course, the grinding wheels of the submissive and ignorant majority, their obvious failure of judgment and crass display of selfish greed and vanity in the midst of national calamities and widespread opposition, is an indication that they care less about whether the people are hungry, or about the several areas of our lives that are not fit for purpose.
If in the midst of inexcusable social inequality and the pervasive poverty level, the irredeemably corrupt, conscienceless, kleptomanic ruling elites believe that their personal interests are the interests of the people, then the only way forward is for the Almighty God to wipe the slate of Sierra Leone clean, so he can start afresh to create the honest and innovative human beings that a good country needs.
It confirms that whether it’s APC or SLPP, it’s you and me who can change our beloved nation by changing ourselves.
It leaves the nation’s future where it belongs – in our very hands. It is to the progressive and radical elements whose number is rapidly increasing, that the tomorrow of our illustrious country belongs.
My God! Where are the big personalities with the balls to effectively check the worst excesses of those in power? Where are those who usually fill the gaping holes of our disastrous politics and governance?
It is clear that the lack of real depth or consistent philosophical or strategic ideological underpinning to deliveries have been exposed.
The current batch of leadership cannot even clean a dusty carpet at the moment; talk less of being able to clean the socio-economic mess that its action and inaction have created; which is why it believes that an airport is better in the long term than a bridge; even if the people say that is what they want.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong in arranging and rearranging the fire wood to let the flame flare. But poking the fire unnecessarily, invariably kills the flame.
So far, rather than quickly dousing the ignitable flames of the national embarrassment they have caused, our leaders have proceeded to walk in dead man’s footstep.
Our society which I initially thought had a small flame flickering in the global economic breeze that can hopefully grow into a blazing inferno, now feels like something verging on pity when I survey the ruin that is now Sierra Leone.
It reminds me that there was a country indeed in my youth. That country died in my adulthood.
Most nations suffer simply from mismanagement. In our case, we couple that to mindless stealing and corruption. And every passing day, makes it look like we have passed the point of no return in our breakneck advance to the deepest depths of impunity and mediocrity that humanity has ever seen.
Then, when I hear the underlying howl of pain in the chorus of the ‘Hebrew slaves’ that have become the standard feature of our society, I realise that I am as guilty as all of us to have let this happen.
All the sectors are falling apart… religious, education, health, political, security, etc. I can go on and on. Yet, I feel we all have become powerless and thoughtless; our country is gone because we all are not speaking out in unison.
Like me, there are many who are beginning to despair about the future of our great country.
All they can see is a country, a people and a leadership that no longer question its values, nor weigh them against the realities of today and our tomorrow. (Photo: Vice president Foh).
We keep pretending that this Hustlers’ Paradise is actually a managed society, even when it has been revealed that all that has happened, especially following the promises of the last eight years is to enter the race, even though we are unable to keep the pace.
I guess that’s what you get when faith becomes the centre of your strategy in anything, rather than a determination and belief, on top of hard work.
Even God knows when to dodge a problem like Sierra Leone, because of our penchant for hypocrisy.
Because of our poverty-mentality, our insensitivity, our tribalism, our religious fanaticism, loss of identity, fear, greed and lack, we have sat down and accepted an Olympian display of management ineptitude, ignorance of any iota of to think strategically, and complete callousness as well as blatant disregard for us – the very people of Sierra Leone in general and to the plight of the majority in particular.
The brutal ideology clash between the leaders and the ‘led’ is a testimony to what is essentially a depressing and grotesque set of values, that is painfully struggling to accentuate national aspirations.
When we look at the summary measures for assessing long-term progress in the three basic dimensions of human development, there is nothing to write home about.
Current Sierra Leone’s HDI value is 0.413— which puts the country in the low human development category—positioning it at 181 out of 188 countries and territories, while the most recent survey data that were publicly available for Multidimensional Poverty Index estimation, indicates that 77.5 percent are multidimensionally poor, while an additional 14.6 percent live near multidimensional poverty.
The breadth of deprivation (intensity) in Sierra Leone, which is the average of deprivation scores experienced by people in multidimensional poverty, is 53.0 percent.
The three key areas of long-term healthy life, access to knowledge and decent standard of living, paint a parlous picture of pure deprivation of the long-suffering masses.
That’s our news – one and a half decade into the 21st century, and eight long years into the promised journey to change and prosperity.
The statistics are simply scary. Yet, we have become a people who wallow in the scandal that we have become. Like a television audience of a reality show, our failures and mistakes have become the butt of our amusement, even when they impede our progress.
Sierra Leone is now a country of many ironies. But perhaps the crudest one of the very many problems we’ve accepted over time is that of impunity, which seeps in the manner of an anesthetic, dripping slowly into the very sinew of our society.
While it has left all forms of joy absent from our canon of emotions for so long, it has left us unconcerned, excited and confused in the same breath.
All we do is to sit back and enjoy the numerous tales of our national shame – corruption, impunity and dishonour.
The leaders and the followers have become so detached from each other, that neither side stops to question the correlation between our collective acts of omission and commission, and our current socio-political and economic predicament.
We are each guilty and ineffectual as much as the leaders who rub our noses in the penchant of their outstanding incompetence and disregard; as well as the willful obscurity of a plan for true progress.
We cannot keep throwing money into infrastructure development with nothing to show for it – no matter how golden the intentions of the current government.
Where is the economic logic in building a new airport, whose very thought to many, is at variance with those caught up in the deep class and social divide, and who are at the brunt of the hellish hole that we now find ourselves?
Surely, the aspiration should be to provide a plausible and sensible road map to moving faster to breach the gap in a way that makes public infrastructure formidable enough to bear the weight of the dreams of millions of Sierra Leoneans, and not the desires of a minute few and a legion of foreign hawks.
The truth is that for Sierra Leone to truly move forward, those in power should realise that they need to display an epitome of a determination to chisel out a mark that will never fade; as well as possess the huge incisors of a big beast of the jungle, that will show the leadership intent to regain Sierra Leone’s lost glory.
A child on a farm sees a plane fly overhead and dreams of flying. But the pilot on the plane sees the farmhouse and dreams of returning home.
Sierra Leoneans are desirous of having a country that is built on their needs and not the dictate of outsiders.
My prayer is for the leadership of our country to invest serious efforts in making our country united with happy and contented citizens.
Right now, nothing is working well for most Sierra Leoneans who lack the good things of life and even the basic necessities. Why should things that benefit a few take priority over that which the majority would be the happier?
Let those in power realise that nothing lasts forever.