Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 2 August 2019:
No matter how much slant is put on it – in politics and governance, perception matters. Ordinarily, reality should drive perception. But most times, perception leads, and muddies the reality.
From indications, it appears that a lot of our compatriots don’t have much to fight with anymore, except emotions; while others are seizing the opportunity to blur the landscape amidst the continued foam-fleck fantasy from the ruling class.
Only your enemy can tell you that you have mouth odour. And they don’t mind telling you in public, whereas your friends, even in private, would tell you that your mouth smells like the roses.
I said in my last piece that I’m not quite sure if those in the President’s kitchen truly loves him. The motivation of my exhortation of course being some stories without legs, which hint at the splits within the caucus as alpha-bull elephants and loyalist within the administration and rivals with the hide of a rhino scrap for influence, position and the prospect of reminding one another of the efforts put into the emergence of the new direction in power. But that is a story for another day.
It may sound clichéd but one thing that is clear is that politicians in this clime, like divide and rule and just like leopards, never change their spots. The question that we should be asking ourselves is: Who will curb the morally offensive malignant tumour of this devious and devilish cabal – new and old?
I mean, have you seen the pathetic video of a Palo Conteh, not only playing the victim-card but also with subtle undertone of threats, whipping up an emotional blackmail of the current regime; while the character-impaired Kemoh Sesay has the effrontery to also shamelessly raise his voice in arm-flinging exasperation.
On the other hand, some comedic displays of the new direction, not only break the world record for humour and have all the sensuality of untangling two crabs, they also epitomise in microcosm, much of what is wrong in our politics, and shine a hydroponic light on the worst of us. The organism is afflicted, which means the fever is in every cell and every organ.
Traces of nepotism, duplicity of standards in law-enforcement and the undisguised policy of superiority complex, repugnant to growth and development, rule of law and good governance, are giving an indication that the modern day elephant is not just subtly reincarnating its voracious political and destructive habits, but is gradually ensuring that cynical distraction, impunity and insincerity are being subtly and brazenly eulogised in the incubator of the nation’s psyche.
How bitterly ironic also that frequent glimpses of the political underhand that we envisioned will be a thing of the past, are not too far away from the surface of the new direction, and are now a perfect ‘the stone can’t be pounded parable’ of the political class.
What one finds in the present Sierra Leone, where unvarnished truth is as rare as a hen’s teeth and hypocrisy is a compulsion which lasts a lifetime and fudges the most prevailing and provocative issue of our existence – how to turn our collective eye away from the current archaic political epiphany and exploitation, into an inventive mass movement that will seize the initiative from the existential threat of the pseudo-shambolic and dogmatic establishment – is the absence of critical thought, deductive reasoning and logical sequencing of events.
Now, our continued embrace of phantom political melodrama and the acceptance of the contrived emotions for the things of the present, given the strong socio-political, religious, emotional and utterly antagonistic reactions it engenders across the land, is without a shadow of doubt, a stain on our values of life, aspirations, development and dreams. It ensures they cannot be raised or realised until we nurture the texture of our thoughts and the depth of our understanding, as well as the quality of our core beliefs.
This is something about the emotional power of the underlying political problems in our democracy which should force us to holdup a mirror to the nation and make a mockery of the weird and hypocritical matrix of those who find themselves in leadership roles.
We all have to own the moral responsibility of the slow pace of our evolution from down under to the vacuous optimism of a new ‘utopia’ Sierra Leone, which has been created in response to the web of negativity that has surrounded our democracy.
This brings me to some pertinent observations which has left me nonplussed; and the reason is simple: Are we really trying to rehash the past in new robes or build a new future?
Now, it is a well-known fact that the end point of crisis management is to profit from the crisis. I’m not quite sure how the new direction intends to game the continued volatility and un-necessary razzmatazz that is becoming a permanent feature dogging its every move.
Given some deep myopia, I’m also at a loss how it expects the generality of the public to perceive the knicker-twisting that colours every of its manoeuvres, and the political and social instability that its actions unwittingly causes.
Against the fact that one of its selling point was the banishment of our “bad” historical past, it becomes a worrying signal when just as we thought that some of the mistakes that were made by the APC are finally sorting themselves out like a termagant wife leaving your life and family, like a paradox, the new direction with its mastery of the art of subterfuge, is now behaving like the witch who refused to heed the labourers’ yearnings in the plantation.
It is a sign of inefficiency that most issues are being mismanaged and end up gaining major uproar and international attention, especially among frustrated Diaspora and social media audience who feed daily on real and imagined news. But then, there seems no intelligence to the way communication and governance is run these days, except when it is simply a populist or carefully orchestrated attraction. Even that.
The continued reactions to what is often considered ‘unfavourable’ observations or criticism -whether true or erroneous, is often one of the factors that whip up revulsion for our leaders and their parties.
I’m aware that some are still held in their self-inflicted Stockholm syndrome – but can someone please tell me what it is with the new direction and controversies? Has it failed, despite several car crashes, to appreciate the simple fact that the people’s trust erodes with every stubborn and opinionated actions and releases that it fails to put into lockstep with the yearnings and aspirations for a new country?
What is this unbelievable bungling capacity to generate a storm at every turn? Why does this administration keep allowing vital national decisions, policies and programmes as well as simple mundane things, to end up blowing through the socio-political trampoline like a raging windstorm?
I am aware of the need to tidy up at home and give the rest of the world the impression that we are cleaning up our acts so that we can get the deserved assistance and respect that was our lot in the past. But, Why make the people appear as non – starters who have to go cap-in-hand, to ‘eat’ from the new direction’s feeding-bottle testament to a new future?
Why should the people not be pedantic about the President’s disappearance, which is an idyllic reflection of the new direction that is meant to be the mantra of a new Sierra Leone? Why a desire to remain in the realm of imperviousness?
Instead of imbuing the citizenry with probing minds to question anomalies by their political leaders, the new direction is putting up a bold face every time it is caught like a rabbit in the headlight. To me, this is simply political and moral vandalism.
Sometimes you have to know how to pick your ‘battles’. For I know that just like the guy who gets drunk under the illusion that he will obliterate the painful reality that his girlfriend dumped him, the noise and hollow chest thumping of the new direction following its flashes of brilliance so early in its lifespan, even though the economy is literarily comatose and insecurity is being crowned, is becoming a genetic embodiment of a myth steeped in self-preservation battle.
Its gradual evolution as a group that can do no wrong is an ironic elevation of that same policy of old that sucks the brains out of citizens, replacing them with docility and stupidity. It is indicative of behaviours that are not in tandem with new beginnings.
But moods are changing somewhat because of the relentless cockcrow of the opposition and the complete lack of economic activities in particular which is a subtle indication that right now, there’s nothing left in the locker until the miracle happens. A prolongation of the lack of capacity beyond policy alignment.
What is not quite clear also, is, if the new direction deliberately kipper information or rabble-rouses, as a policy to distract from the collateral damage of its struggle to heat up the economy which has almost reached a certain dangerous crescendo.
In a recent discussion, there was a collective guffawing disbelief at the latest blunder by the new direction, which led to the question: Can the present administration speedily pluck drowning dreams from depths of socio-economic and political despair? For me, it should be all about the substance. No one needs to tell us that we should by now centre on- rescuing our economy. But this is also for later.
And please before you lay the blame on the opposition and enemies of progress alone, it is clear that critics are not necessarily unpatriotic and the bumpy ride along the new direction to our fantasy island has much to do with the sanctimonious silence and ambivalence of those who are taking the people, for suckers to be played.
What President Bio’s aides may not dare to appreciate is that you never fetch water with a basket.
The launch of epochal projects, significant policies and actions, which frequently descend into a mirth, is an indication of lack of realism, which is now a default feature of a government whose personnel always seem pleased with the hidden charm of being happy in their own skin and delighted with the increasing ‘halleluiah’ chorus of talk-and-do.
Without appreciating the fact that the socio-political demography of the country has changed considerably, no thanks to the revolutionary and sudden growth of the social media and the changes in our consciousness, (albeit mostly superficial still), the new direction keeps emboldening the opposition and veering into the murky waters of hostility as a result of its huge disregard for making itself reflective of its preaching – transparency.
It might perceive itself as stoical and dynamic in the delivery of governance as some are want to believe, but it continues to attract nihilistic attention and have some of its actions shot down in flames instantly, simply because it also seem to taint every positive step, weakening the significance of its actions and making phantom, some of its proposals, policies and activities.
Allowing one uproar or unruly behaviour from critics and the sore opposition to cloud important issues, could be an aberration. Multiple outcry from rather debilitating controversies such as seen in the Lungi Bridge fiasco, Bintumani 3, payment of entitlements, and the recent simple question of where is the nation’s leader as well as the Commission of Inquiry’s assets verification and invitations etc., mean there’s a fundamental system failure in the communications and strategic planning and administrative arm of the government.
Is this truly the start of a new era?
We cannot build a virile nation, the like of which the new direction wants to take us, this way. It needs to realise that whether it likes it or not, the President and indeed, the SLPP, as a party, have always been seen as a political black box from a dysfunctional anachronistic system, attracting the sharpening of knives. Again, that is for another musing.
True, there’s nowhere in the world that governments have not generated strong divergent views. But the issue here is that in having the courage to confront some of our long-standing problems and in the light of our political colouration, it is disappointing that the new direction is failing to appreciate that micros are optimised only when macros are effective. You never put the micros before the macro. Ever!
Between populist programmes and socio-economically vital decisions, hardly has any action been taken without it registering high on the Richter scale or drowning in the swamp of today’s poisonous politics.
It was expected that the Bio-led administration will as a matter of priority explore how we can best establish a harmony of interests, and avoid the growing tendency to focus on those things that differentiate and divide one from another. This is the expectation from the new direction.
It is not just whistling in the dark that will chase away the economic gloom and political divisiveness in our society, which seems to be rumbling away. Neither is it the throwing of the economic dice in the vain hope that it would be a couple of sixes; nor is it the chasing of shadows with a charmed audience.
After all, the wisdom of yesterday are counterfeit coins in today’s existential reality. Somethings got to change or else, just as its good deeds are being muddled in the murky waters of our politics, the legacy and mantra of the new direction will become tainted with the disrobing of the masquerade.
The nexus to acting unwittingly is self-evidenced by the increasing magnitude of attacks and the fire-brigade response to the desire to remain in the realm of imperviousness.
Wait a minute. You know what? I think some things that happen are simply because “Our fingers are still not dry of blood’.