The poor deserve a life too – as dead men don’t read

Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 22 April 2019:

President Bio’s legendry determination to mount the seat of Sierra Leone’s leadership is well known and the performance of his administration and his utterances since assuming power, answer a question I asked years back about whether there was something he had forgotten in State House that he wanted to go back and get.

I’m not sure if he took it personally as a criticism or a pertinent question that would have given an indication to those who were following his assiduous fight for the throne, that he was a man on a mission and not just one trying to launder his image of the past.

However, his recent speech in Canada, gives us an insight into the underlying current that kept pushing him until he succeeded.

Forget about the few distinct whiffs of drains of contradictions that wafted up from that speech and the first-year celebration of his administration’s feather-duster of the dirt in our society.

One of the greatest problems that our leaders have had in the past has been the failure to understand man’s dynamism and the fact that man is not static. When the chips are down, people’s desires are predicated on self-interests.

While we appreciate the concerted effort of the government to restore international confidence in the nation as well as the heightened razzmatazz of the battle against corruption and indiscipline, Sierra Leone’s sanity must begin from somewhere; and this is why the New Direction government must appreciate that delusion is bad but self-delusion will take the biscuit.

Let him that thinks he stands take heed. You can’t plant anything when the milieu or nursery bed is one of maggots and white ashes.

Okay, President Bio, like an unstoppable tornado on a declutter mission, is the white pap that has come out of the black pot that is Sierra Leone of the past and who appears to have at one-point, swallowed spit and looked at a bad situation clinically.

This was an essential first and most critical step to the rectification of the Janus-faced part of the Salone Zoo where we lie, even to our own souls and live in deceit as we jostle with our continued attachment to double standards, ethnically tainted, tribally prismed viewpoints and bigoted hollow standpoints. The kind that engenders deep denial.

Even though it is not yet Uhuru, there is no doubt that the administration has done well so far and deserves some commendation.

But what we have today with just over a year gone is a half full glass of animalistic aggression, patched with blurred glory and braggadocios delusions of grandeur. (Remember the morning sets the tone of the day).

As stolen money erupt from hidden places and the foreign rent-seeking carpetbaggers and buccaneers once more dust their long utensils to dine and wine with us, he, along with drivers of the new direction contraption could be forgiven for having a knowing smile, not to mention the convulsion of laughter and pride on the faces of SLPP’s long-suffering supporters who salivate as they accuse their predecessors of ferreting our commonwealth from projects to pockets.

Through the hype of the celebration, the media hollered with headlines. The Social media echoed a rehash of same old silly lip service and freshly minted tales by moonlight, while commentators poured encomiums and plaudits as well as fed us with a gamut of concoction of sweet nonsense; in assessing the government’s one year in office.

Amidst the frustrated grunts of the agenda-for-prosperity pigs, whose snouts were redirected from the national feeding trough and the propaganda machinery deodorising the one year achievements, the moral dilemma of: is it too soon to get on the back of the current government, became sensitive and hidden behind the pots and pans of the spiral of the anti-corruption crusade, free education and the charm offensive of the arrowhead of the administration.

But that’s the problem with African socio-political history. We so much over-romanticise our story.

Worse still, in a hypocritical country of backward thinkers like ours, even though we know the truth as well as what ails us, the inherent bring-down-syndrome in us, fuelled by our envy, hatred, ego, views, selfishness, ignoramus and bad-belleh instincts, won’t let us act.

For years, our political mythology was the application of hypocrisy as government policy and national ethos; and it left no room for ideology and good governance. It was all about rumbling through threadbare as the pendulum swung from the APC to the SLPP and from extreme poverty of the masses, which had a ruinous effect on our national life, to obscene opulence of the elite; from deceit, comedy and power-show, to gross tragedy and utter neglect of the majority.

Our promotion of persons rather than issues fuelled religion, ethnicity and party politics as determinant factors in our democracy and development, rather than socio-economic policies. Acute deprivation and dependence took away the dignity, self-esteem, pride and self-worth of the ordinary man, so much that they became politically disempowered and socially disinherited.

They were left with no choice but to continue to look forward to and be generally satisfied with receiving crumbs thrown at them by politicians; and in return, settle into feeding from the waste bins of their political leaders. This led to poverty of the mind and poverty of ideas. People became disillusioned, disenchanted and sought meaning and expression for their lives in anything and anybody who will be their “father” or “protector”.

This is why the new direction and its leadership should really avoid a situation where they act like the lizard who praised himself after falling from the palm tree; or fail to remember that no matter the amount of protein a lizard eats, it can NEVER be a crocodile. A worm can consume as much supplements as it wants, but it will never transform into a snake. The new direction drivers CANT transform a potbelly to pregnancy, no matter how hard they try.

Shared values of the positive kind, lived not just espoused by the leadership which must stay true to whatever values and principles underline its new direction, is therefore a must.  It is not okay for us as a country to pretend that we are doing great when the reverse is the case.

Definitely, as the days turn to months, the government has left the Baptismal class and is now fully in the main church auditorium; so it has opened itself to scrutiny devoid of the sentiments of the outlined achievements.

The Matinee is over, the main cabaret is on and the longer the lights dazzle, the earlier people begin to make up their minds about whether to continue watching or not, especially if you suffer from epilepsy.

Unpalatable as it might sound, amidst the ‘global’ applause, the government has yet to do anything fundamentally different or spectacular from what is expected in a society that is not mentally and morally barren like ours, when we glance up and down the pyramid of what we call a society.

Development won’t come until the system can turn out people who have the capacity to think and be altruistic. Bring all the egg heads from MIT, Harvard and Cambridge; they’ll all leave with their tails in between their legs if we continue to practice kakistocracy and expect honey as output.

It should realize that a blind, uncritical and self-serving support of the leadership is not what patriotism or true change is all about.

The opposite is actually more ideal for the growth of a nation. It will be judged not only on the clarity of its vision and the rationality of what it intends to do with our tomorrow, but also the realisation that platitudes and verbal coercion can no longer pass for intellectual discourse. Telling the world how great we are doing does not …….

The government needs to remember that even the road to hell is paved with good intentions, but hunger is not loyal to any party, neither does the social media (ask Kandeh Yumkella) win the hearts and minds of those on the lower rung of the social ladder, for whom the celebration of another independence which signifies the end of another year of economic hopelessness, is a very psychologically traumatic period.

For them, yes, you can be promised heaven but the fundamental structures of their today are still eroded like the supporting beams of a house after termites have attacked them. Their needle is gradually moving away from the past to the realities of the escalating costs of living and economic convergence which at the end of the day trumps the evil of men gone by or the excellent report and comments of those who say the pain is in our hearts rather than in our heads.

The new direction promised a la carte socio-political and economic menu; but unless the chefs start rolling out the spread, the prix fixe buffet with the unappetising starter and pudding and a very small portion of meat on offer now, will prove a bit too costly and off-putting in spite of the aromatic seasonings.

To be honest, apart from die-hard supporters, the average man, who has so far not had anything else but tears for his aspirations has reached a state of apathy towards governance, having had the fight for recognition knocked out of him time and time again by political figures who promise the moon on a stick but end up adding more snakes into a den of vipers.

In fact, I think we are in danger of suffering a hangover from the experience of the mind-boggling spectacle of absolute irresponsibility which turned out to be the APC regime of Ernest Koroma.

Strip away the sound and fury of the choreographed howl and what you’ll find is that there’s very little to celebrate unfortunately. Our economy is on auto-drive as it contracts to a level devoid of the heavy inflows from corruption and unethical business practices of the immediate past.

There is no doubt that the nation has paid a terrible price for the carcinogenic question of corruption in high places and indeed in our society. Nevertheless, people are not interested in just tales of who’s corrupt.

It’s clear to every citizen that the level of corruption in the country is disturbing, even now. The consequence of the misappropriation of billions of dollars has manifested itself in governance deficits and crippling cost of living for the ordinary man on the streets.

Nevertheless, when the chips are down, people’s desires are predicated more on self-preservation and interests.

And yes, the needle is gradually moving away from the past and the hype of the free education, to the realities of the escalating costs of living and economic convergence, because promises never fill empty tummies.

The poor deserve a life too, as dead men don’t read. And I’m aware that poverty of mind and emotion is worse that hunger induced poverty. But the people need to, even if it is in a small measure, begin to start feeling the effect of the prescription as they travel in the new direction and on the asphalt of the newly-paved road to Jerusalem.

Agree that it will take time and plan for citizens to benefit; and we are a step away from that crude and sorry state of our immediate past, which wreaked of deep seated and entrenched ludicrous tribal, religious and political bigotry. But it pains that the body language of the current administration cannot even straddle a bit of smugness until it has actually transformed us into the vision of its mission, which to me, means commitment to the cause at home and the people who want to hear the soothing words and see more of their aspirations becoming a reality that will assuage their pains directly.

The bursting of a sty is usually the beginning of relief. Despite all the innovations and technology, a complex surgical operation is not carried out by an absentee doctor who has only journal documentation of his research. The world might applaud him at gatherings outside his domain, but the patient dying at home would prefer to see him and be assured that he is there for him, in his time of need. Think Rwanda.

The way of the sand castle is the way the cookie crumbles.

Good to be back from my self-imposed sabbatical.

3 Comments

  1. Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon has given us another masterpiece, which to me, inadvertently differentiates the two types of democracies currently practised in the world – Western or ‘civilised’ democracy, where government is owned by the people; and African or ‘jungle’ democracy, where the populace is owned by an almighty god-fearing despot.

    In the former, the Opposition is seen as a powerful and prominent institution that acts as a stabilising mechanism, so that the economy is driven away from dangerous terrain. However, in the latter, and especially in the context of Sierra Leone, there is a tendency to diminish or blindfold the Opposition so that the government of the day can engage in the deceitful STRANGULATION of the economy for self interests, coupled with the welfare of a meagre percentage of die-hard ethnocentric supporters.

    Then the rest of the people are “left with no choice but to continue to look forward to and be generally satisfied with receiving crumbs thrown at them by politicians; and in return, settle into feeding from the waste bins of their political leaders. This led to poverty of the mind and poverty of ideas. People became disillusioned, disenchanted and sought meaning and expression for their lives in anything and anybody who will be their ‘father’ or ‘protector’.”

    Even when things are going bad, we still hype our leaders. We hypocritically defend them at the expense of the economy. Because, we have been indoctrinated to think they own us.

    Whilst in the West, the constitution is seen as the sacred bible that guides the implementation of policy, in Sierra Leone the present government see the constitution as the satanic verses – hurdles that will impede the road to self-empowerment and unexplainable wealth.

    In this article, Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon laid down the present realities on the ground in Sierra Leone; which can be articulated to the thoughts of another outstanding writer – Ibrahim Sourie Mansaray – who asks the question: “When do we challenge our African leaders?”

    He went on to say: “The policy of rewarding friends and punishing foes seems to be some of the bad actions our leaders should not embark on. Policies that favour supporters have created a system that reward short-term thinking and incentivises hero worship and laziness rather than prudence; while encouraging divisiveness and cronyism.”

    The funny thing is, the West, which has a tendency to indirectly guide our democratic principles is turning a blind eye – perhaps waiting for the unthinkable or pre-determined outcome to happen.

  2. Interesting. It is always easy to criticize, condemn and complain. But to produce an alternative, to proffer workable solutions is a work that is extremely troublesome.

  3. What a compact article Raymond that needs careful reading and understanding. Normally, I respond to articles quickly. But this time, not so fast. Abdul Rashid and some other editors do the same at times. So, I would like to take time, read the article very carefully before commenting. Very interesting article with a lot of reasoning.

    It’s sometimes good to have articles that makes one scratch his/her head before answering. Thank you very much for keeping people busy. Good for the Easter holiday.

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