Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 30 June 2016
If an idol begins to wield excessive powers, you show it the wood it was carved from.
That is exactly what seventeen million British citizens have demonstrated by their decision to leave the increasingly octopodial, power-grabbing European Union.
Whether their decision is right or wrong, is not my business. Only time will tell.
However, the common refrain from most of the ordinary Brexit supporters that “they (those who hold the reins of power) tell us their opinions, but don’t listen to us. They have no idea what we want” – is what struck me the most.
Let’s not forget that in developed countries, it’s usually a man’s core principle, which is driven by human inner strength, not necessarily charisma, which draws people to him. Once he loses his inner strength and compromises on his core principle, he is only leading, with nobody following. That’s what Brexit clearly showed.
Agreed that severing the head is not the remedy for a migraine headache, the bloody nose for the British government is instructive for African leaders to learn some fundamental truths.
And indeed, our current leaders in Sierra Leone and those gasping to replace them, need to take note.
The house roof fights the rain, but he who is sheltered generally ignores it. Listening to the true needs of the people is the greatest opportunity to influence the future. It is the key to building a storm shelter for the majority, as against the erection of a palatial edifice for the few, who never walk alone in the rain anyway.
No matter how clever, a man cannot sit down alone to plan for prosperity. The idea in the heads and minds of our leaders that they are the ‘almighty’ with abundance of wisdom is a natural block to constructive development.
It is why presently, we are looking like a confused tourist at the global train station, with no idea which platform we should be on.
Deception is one thing – self-deception is quite another. Our political class continues to be as contemptible and self-absorbed as ever. All they are interested in is to splash on themselves and to maintain obscenely lavish lifestyle that is nothing but a confirmation of the fact that they are but men and women, who have lost every sense of shame, irony, and proportion.
Despite warnings by those who have not allowed ideological or political sentiments to blinker their eyes, our current demi-gods in the political class appear not to be aware of the fact that anything is amiss for the majority; or realise that a vast bulk of their compatriots have come under the heels of a harshening economic climate.
They cannot see that majority of the people are not only hanging on for dear lives but that every day, the existence of the masses becomes more brutish, nasty and shorter on that lowest rung of the economic and social ladder, where they have been condemned through no fault of theirs.
Hell no. Our leaders do not even know what time it is for the rest of the nation; neither do they realise that if they continue to sacrifice the wealth of the nation for self-aggrandisement or emergency prosperity, as well as the lure of a speculative economic future, we are likely to lose both our national liberty, wealth and resources as well as the future of generations yet unborn.
Mistakes have the power to turn you into something better than you were before. But it appears that in our situation, it is a case where one sees all sorts of knives on the day an elephant dies.Those in power, are the ones leading the procession for the carving out of the body and the draining of the blood of the nation.
For now, we may be helpless and at the mercy of the mesmerising but dysfunctional power-hungry political elite, who are busy savouring their ability to always have one over us, as a result of their grip on our throats. As a matter of fact, they can enjoy their victory today. But tomorrow, their hangover will surely be fierce.
Times are bleak in Sierra Leone. The unlimited promise of our youth has turned into corrosive and corrupting nightmare of our adulthood. What a waste. And to what end? So the shallow can acquire materials they don’t need?
The chameleon that steps gently, dies; how much more the frog that jumps here and there…. Nemesis is nearer than you think.
Yes, there is still hope for a glorious future, but right now, the political class has capitalised on the mental poverty of the masses, entertained and encouraged by focusing on absurd matters to mask their lack of innovation and the inability to reposition Sierra Leone. We’ve lived with this for too long. How long more?
Since there is no recognisable opposition in the country, a development which has given rise to the increasing wave of discontent, it is absolutely important that the voice of those who have turned themselves into resistance, continue to be heard loud and clear, before they become the catalysts for the deliverance of the people who have definitely become Lords of Poverty, in a land flowing with milk and honey.
We would discover that corruption, which has virtually crippled us, is a minute fallout of the mind-bog¬gling desecration of national aspirations and governance. This in turn has unearthed mostly unprincipled men without abiding focus that can create an enabling and enduring system.
We are now in a catch-22 situation. Most government officials won’t empower the average man to monitor their activities, for obvious reasons. Yet, instead of us to be extremely bothered enough to watch politicians closely, we are either compromised or trapped in a cycle of self-hurt by defending the actions of those destroying our country.
We seem to have a default setting in our mentality which leads us in circles and has turned our story of frustration, leaking into disbelief. Without a shadow of doubt, it is us, the generality of the people, whether educated or otherwise, who are guilty of the ultimate dereliction of duty.
Despite our leaders becoming the chip which stayed on black, while the wheel of our national aspirations keeps coming up red, we prefer to leave them to run amok and unopposed.
How can you have growth when a material chunk of your national inflow is looted and hidden away in foreign economies, or sunk locally in idle real estates and peacock assets; and thus, are not available for the economic multiplier effect treatment?
This declaration is of course a blinding glimpse of the obvious. It is why the magic carpet ride has come to shuddering halt.
But wait a minute, what kind of a people would still believe in those who are glaringly stealing from the collective till? What kind of people celebrates a warped leadership, even when the widespread lack of the many is obvious to even a blind man?
What kind of people are so filled with parochial biases that they would not realise that we are giving up ours and our children’s future to local and foreign brigands and common thieves?
Why are those without values, the ones defining us as a nation, while we simply try to exonerate ourselves by turning our noses up and pointingaccusing fingers at others; or opening our mouths and speaking glowingly on behalf of our oppressors?
Something definitely has to change. It’s time to reclaim our country too. It’s time to realise that even though we are being told that the monkey is off our backs, through the token dividends of democracy on offer, the reality is that the circus is still in town.
We, the people, who live and work in every nook and cranny of Sierra Leone, as well as those of us outside who yearn desperately for a return home, can affect the dearly desired change, and we must rise up now to do so.
Are we surprised that year in year out, not much seems to evolve for us as a people or for the nation in the overall? If ‘gangsters’ are expected to take complex policy decisions they care less about or have no clue as to resolve, why are we surprised governance is turned to mugging the masses?
My point is that growth, especially economic, as opposed to biological, does not just happen. It is a product of committed vision and birthed by competence and real performance. All those things have been exiled from Sierra Leone for near on four decades.
And without competence which comes from applying knowledge and experience, you really cannot grow anything, not even cookery business, and definitely not a nation.
There are no shortcuts in real life, but unfortunately, those who are giving a lightning bolt to our future, instead of a tornado, have brain-washed our people into believing otherwise with the delivery of tangibles.
Those magicians who are shouting abracadabra and finding that nothing happens, and that their wand is merely a black and white stick, are content to continue to stitch us up like a badly made cabaslot, rather than reveal the truth of their inability.
Prime Minister Cameron’s action – post-referendum, was described by some as a demonstration of courage by a democratic leader who respects the will of the people, even if he didn’t agree with their decision.
And by “putting the will of the people before his political future, has proved himself to be a selfless leader, with respect for democracy and voters’ sovereignty.’’ Can we truly say that about those we entrust with power in our own domain?
We can easily make the same mistakes over the subject of inclusive growth and national development, the absence of which is understood to be at the heart of our change dilemma.
And truly speaking, one can already see how this can happen, with our thinking and rhetoric veering off decidedly into “inequality” and social protection, all of which are nevertheless valid issues in their own right.
The fact is that muddled thinking and hazy understandings, when inflicted on economic policy, can keep a nation poor when it has no business in the poverty leagues. Herein lies the conundrum.
Meanwhile, I have always maintained that for a revolution to even attain the status of hopeful, let alone impending, there has to be a sort of enlightened group in that society, no matter how small, and usually, as small as you think.
I’m not talking about an educated elite, I’m talking about anybody, rich, poor, who in some way, is enlightened, and sees what the hell is truly going on.
Without the sustained existence of this enlightened group in the society, there will never be hope for a revolution. Which is why, when I meet someone who has, as they say, knowledge; who knows what the deal is, it does not in any way excite me, or give me hope.
Why am I not encouraged by the finding of like minds? Because it does not mean that a revolution will occur. We’ll just continue to talk about it. Some of us will try, but because we will never have enough support, we will always fail; even though, we need to plod on.
It does not mean the end of a dream, but I’ll love to reach out to others to think and act on a rational and pragmatic basis. It is important to apply wisdom and understanding to our future and avoid the political, economic, ethnic, religious and social mistakes of the past. If not, our David will be the one to create our own Goliath.
It is up to those who believe in justice and fairness, an equitable society and a brighter future, to answer the clarion call against impunity every time such threats rear their heads and to fight for yet more progress, truth and reasonableness in public processes.
The stench that needs cleaning up is deep. The system is a surreal spread of disorder, malady and bewildering ailments. It is up to our leaders to hear. The sound of the coming train is getting louder.