Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 30 May 2015
You know what? Sierra Leone is not cursed as some would like to believe. It is our mentality to anything Sierra Leone, and our collective antics that are the cause of the warped society and governance that we now have to contend with.
Therefore, as our national voyage continues to be marked by sorrow, tears and blood, let us stop pretending and start living real. We cannot continue to be operating like an elephant on a unicycle.
We have been fantasising about a just and truly free society, but by our very support for the institutions that are perpetrating injustice, we are enslaving ourselves.
We have lived on virtual grounds for too long, and have lost sight of who we are in reality. I believe this is why the number of graves is catching up with the population.
In our world, idealism trumps practical considerations, and loyalty puts objectivity in the shade. This is why our situation seems like the apt poster for perpetual mediocrity. But the truth is constant and has no loyalty to anything else, but itself.
The reality is that the circumstances on the home front are being compounded by its own inner peculiar resistance, which has left the people helpless and the leaders all-powerful.
When we allow fawning over authority to continue to nurture our key problem of mediocrity, and the watch dogs become lap dogs; when we, collectively as a people, abdicate our responsibility to our conscience by refusing to speak truth to power and our leaders at all levels; when we refuse to make the thought about our country uppermost and we rather believe in government run by magic; when hunger, poverty and disease are just by-words in our dispirited lives, then we need to take a moment and reflect on the future that is gradually being lost to the greedy, selfish demons of today.
If we the followers too would like to swallow our vanity and tell our ‘Adebayors’ in power, the truth about what they are not doing well, so that they can improve our conditions, we all would be the better for it.
Whether at home or abroad, it is time to change our political culture and rise to the challenge and salvage what we can, of our tomorrow. Shall we simply continue the way we are now, even when we know the truth, or should we be re-adjusting? Your answer matters.
Amidst the razzmatazz of the past eight years, during which, tokenism has become the buzz word in the lexicon of our illusion of grandeur, the government has been shown up as being just like a kid who loves to wear designer clothes at any cost, and surreptitiously encouraged by family members who commit all atrocities, just to please him and present him as a symbol of their hard work. (Photo: Maada Bio warmly upholds and embraces president Koroma’s leadership).
Likewise, most Sierra Leoneans, especially the beneficiaries of the corrupt system that we operate in, as well as several others who are holed up in the comfort of developed societies, don’t realise we’ve been living in The Matrix, and that today – a different and numbing reality obtains in our country.
Without prejudice to the ‘great’ effort of the current administration, the truth is that a State exists to provide security of lives and property, and deliver basic needs and services to the generality of the people.
Where such a nation fails to meet its fundamental obligations, it becomes a failed state. Luckily, we are not yet a totally failed state; but no doubt we are getting close to it from all parameters of measurement.
Many people are unhappy with President Koroma’s administration, not because they cannot see the token of democracy on offer for them, but because he promised a resurgence of the lives of the many that never seemed plausible, then turned around only to insult the populace by flourishing a fig tree in place of a credible change of our socio-political and economic lives.
Therefore, I’ll like to ask those who have been picking issues with critics of the present administration, a very simple question: Is it right that sixteen years into the 21st century, and eight solid years after the current government took over power and promised so much, for communities in the capital of Sierra Leone to be relying on bowzers for water; and for ministers to be proud of such a development?
Please tell me, because I know that what is not good is simply not good.
No doubt, the lithium test to assess whether we are creating solutions to our everyday needs or problems, are the fundamental necessities of everyday living, which are taken by many Sierra Leoneans abroad for granted, and which are then given by those in the Diaspora, as reasons for their continued exile.
So, for those whose sails go up every time the government is criticised on the state of affairs in Sierra Leone, I would like them to appreciate the fact that the dark mutterings that are beginning to emerge into the open realm of the political domain, is fast and primarily becoming a struggle of the social classes; and by implication, a battle for the very soul of the nation.
If there were ever a time for profound thinking and deep and sober reflection, when it comes to the affairs of our beloved Sierra Leone, now is indeed the time. There is no reason leaving truth twisting in the breeze or caressing a pot of wishful thinking.
Unless we want to continue to be selective in applying principles, it beggars belief that we should still be discussing some of the issues that crop up in our national existence, which do not symbolize the country that I want for my kids and indeed for future generations of Sierra Leoneans.
There has of late been a good deal of sabre rattling in some parts of the country, as the waves of truth begin to wash over the sands of our realities. Many citizens have been shocked into a feeling of regret and betrayal, as they pour scorn on a regime of politicians who say one thing and do completely the opposite.
Their disdain and derision, is why the government is now being subjected to series of mockery.
My take is that, rather than pick up its arms and continue with the hypocrisy of prosperity, the government should stop its sermonisation and pretensions.
The hopes and dreams of the masses are fast turning into tears, and their aspirations torn to shreds, while the veneer of the claim of prosperity-for-all, is being horribly exposed by some political and economic catastrophe.
The emergence of the unsolicited Ebola plague and the subsequent economic downturn have put into stark contrast, the huge task facing the government.
With no money in reserve; no get-out-of-jail-free-card from benevolent nations, the government looks miles off the heroics of the previous years, which remain the signature tune of its ascendancy.
What has emerged from the cobweb-lined room, where the prosperity rhetoric is ratcheted up to the level of a scream is that all these years, our economy and indeed our very existence, has been sustained on the junk food of corruption, deceit and haze of dementia.
We are suffering from soporific kwashiorkor, but because we look chubby and are made to believe that we are not what we see in the mirror, we are under the impression of being healthy. Now we know and must realise that the bee no longer has honey, nor does it reside in the moon after all.
Day by day, we hear sweet statements and poetic promises; we are regaled with pictures of an economic system that is the envy of the world; yet as a living organism we are beginning to see that its blood circulation is externally controlled by a machine that can be variously referred to as China, hustlers, or a class of diaspora looters within the widespread Lootocracy.
I do not write for recognition or acceptance. I do so because whenever I think of Sierra Leone, my already burdened heart becomes heavier, and I wonder about the conscience of those in power who succumb to the lure of sleep, without realizing it is in the midst of real life.
I realise that instead of putting on their thinking cap, they continue to dream of this wonderful arena they have created in their imagination; describing any attempt at pointing out that they are dancing naked, as exaggeration.
Unlike them, the people realise that exaggeration by its very nature has a ring of truth – doesn’t it?
So, I say to those who are cheerleaders for the government and indeed to all Sierra Leoneans – welcome to the real world.
I am very much aware that some of the guardian angels of the government’s information order would be reading this. And to this extent, they may want to offer rebuttals, cast aspersions and raise the volume of their propaganda. They are most welcome. But it should be noted that this writer is not a politician.
Rather, I am a public-spirited citizen, who has anxiously waited for the powers that be, to show their hands and make me eat my words. But instead, they have ensured that politics remains the largest and most productive industry in the country, and with being in government, the most profitable investment.
The greedy class of political elite have not only raped our nation, they have pillaged and looted it and virtually left it comatose, which is why we are poor and broke.
Today, a well-informed observer will not hesitate to describe the sum total of government’s effort as one that amounts to broken promises, adorned with anti-poor development agenda.
No doubt, all societies experience periods of uncertainty and risk. The task is for leaders to establish and nurture thriving functional institutions that can navigate these periods of uncertainty and mitigate risks.
In our situation, it appears that for so long and against the backdrop of its nexus to our history, the dream with the epicentre being the people and the philosophy directed at elevating the status of the majority, towards a more enduring, enjoyable and comfortable life, has been naively ignored by those in power in what can only be described as a deliberate conspiracy against the masses.
The rhymes and echoes emanating from the government propaganda machinery lacks proper articulation, so that we have an idea of where we are headed and how we intend to get there.
At present, there is no palliative whatsoever in place. Income is static. Standard of living is shrinking, while cost of living is rising.
What this means is that the mindset of change-managers who are on the payroll of foreign vultures and their problem-solving model, are at odds with the roadmap and coherence that are required to achieve significant change in the shortest possible time. (Photo: Newly and poorly constructed Wilkinson road by the Chinese in Freetown flooded by rain last week).
With everybody just doing their own thing in a strategic move to position themselves for post-Koroma, it is looking more like incremental hopeful or uncertain moves, rather than a collective and radically bold confident move.
However what is more worrisome is the realisation that even in this dire circumstances and with the benefit of years in office, our economic problems can still be summed up in two words – Inefficiency and Inadequacy. The two, run right through the whole gamut of our economic activities, whose dots are just not connecting because its operators keep acting like vampires.
The fact that we have literarily wasted the last half a century and squandered our resources; and the wave of helping hand from friendly nations in the past eight years, is the more reason why we all have to stand up and say: enough is enough.
A change agent is a like a pioneer. They are heroes who usually have the arrows in their backs. It is retrogression to continue the provision of basic infrastructures in archaic settings like water in bowzers or build roads that flood at the first drop of rains.
While our souls die waiting for true change and we continue to promote, worship and celebrate mediocrity, afraid to challenge our leaders and make them accountable, the innocence of our youths – some of whom can hardly string a sentence together in English without errors, and the future of the next generation that is already showing signs of perversion and immorality, disappears into thin air and we continue to fight ourselves while calling a garden fork, cutlery.
If nothing changes, the future of our beloved Sierra Leone, I am afraid looks bleak and we shall one day realise that we have wasted a golden opportunity indeed. I am deeply worried.