Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 April 2016
The one painful conclusion that came to mind during my recent visit to Sierra Leone was that the original model is beyond broken, it is shattered.
Today, we are a swelling disaster of disorder, mismanagement and corruption, impunity and hopelessness, greed and poverty, selfishness and dysfunction.
Our streets are choked with a people who have no clue as to our challenges; as well as those who see the current crop of those in power as making past leaders look like papal altar boys.
Our problems are deeper than we think. And to get out of our present predicament, Sierra Leoneans must ‘put their mouth where their money is’, because only unconventional solutions or the introduction of extra-model variables can reset the constituent aspects that we have bastardised and ruined beyond recognition.
It seems we have been held captive for so long, that Stockholm syndrome has set in. There is a semblance of unity for ethno-religious and political bias, which pushes us to protect the guilty.
How could our once glorious nation have missed the moral compass so terribly?
Even though we are aware that a leash does not look good on a chicken, we look at the immoral and senseless infection that has paralysed our nation and which at the moment is confusing but at best perplexing and yet look the other way.
My prayer is that our collective suffering should begin to spur us to a greater sense of true nationhood, so that Sierra Leone can rise again.
If not, we will be lucky to escape either a popular uprising leading to, or a direct action of indignation, manifested in a very, very bloody uprising. The clock does not stop ticking, neither would the evolution of the people of this nation.
We need to realise that we have to put a permanent halt to the parochial approach to the crippling of the next generation and indeed, the very future of our beloved Sierra Leone.
We need to collectively have the courage and conviction to right so many of the ills of the past.
Our future depends on it. In other words, the time has come for us to do away with what is abhorrent and which makes a farce of any iota of collective morality we have as a people and a nation.
The future, our future, will have to be built from scratch. It will not just happen, at least not to our satisfaction if we remain as bystanders or onlookers, much in the same way that our lives so far was not constructed by someone else, let alone our colonial masters or the locusts that have ravaged our commonwealth, alone.
I realised that for a very long time now and even under the current dispensation, we have continued to run our nation on fraud and deception.
I could see and feel the pains of the nation; the tension brought about by the robotic existence of majority of the people and which our leaders have described as progress.
Despite the fact that there is suffering to alleviate, trauma to soothe, normality to restore to a battered and bruised economic and social fabric of our society, majority of the people have chosen or brainwashed into denying the obvious and pretending that all was well or would soon be fine.
As the core victims of our past recklessness and deceit, regaled me with their woes and even erstwhile, aloof and wealthy-individuals vented their frustration at the state of affairs, I realised that a lot of mess was made either out of omission or commission and that true change will take a while, and only if and when we are ready to gird our loins.
I could feel in the narration of many, the pain and agony they are going through and I sensed the collective hurt while many tried to rationalise why we are where we are.
Nevertheless, the pain and suffering of the masses right now is best described as insurmountable. Only a selfish and inconsiderate person would not see and acknowledge this fact.
Yet, just like now, all the socio-economic and political problems we have today were created in the recess of our yesterday, when we connived with our political leaders to short-change this very future that we are now craving.
So, it’s not just our leaders that are guilty, we all are. The question is: When will our indignation for the present, come to the fore, if ever?
Like it or not, it has become imperative that we craft a different future from the one that the ill-fortunes of our history have laid out.
The reckless spending of public funds, the ostentatious lifestyle of our leaders, the abuse of power, perversion of justice and culture of impunity; as well as ethno-religious favouritism and nepotism, misery and squalor, which have stunted our growth and turned us to a beggar-nation, despite our abundance of resources, are all pathways that need to be cleared.
This is my thinking and I hope some people will reason with me. Those who don’t, have a right not to be swayed just as my musing is my right.
I am not exonerating any segment of our society from blame, but laying the facts as they appear to me.
While you have the right to be angry, please be angry with sense. For once, leave the realm of fantasy and let’s speak truth to power.
This is not about going to Freetown with bags of dollars and pounds sterling and being able to have a swell of a time, believing that all is well. Neither is it about looking at the construction works all over town, or the roads in progress and believing that we are achieving growth and on our way to the premier league of countries.
What is even more ethically repugnant is that some enlightened Sierra Leoneans from the safety of their palatial kingdoms at home and abroad, built from the sweat and labour, tears and blood, present and future of the majority, make ‘logical’ excuses to support known and accused looters of our commonwealth.
In a nutshell, the current chest-thumping claim about positive attitudinal modifications resulting from the rebranding of our country in the eyes of the world is fiction, not fact. Go see for yourself.
The idea that growth, development and prosperity can, or indeed ought to be separated from the entrenched values found in other saner climes, or that our brand of politics is the best for peaceful and progressive intent, is ultimately delusional.
Fact is, without going back to the basics, no structure that will truly lift us out of the present abyss can be built – whether it’s in the socio-economic realm or even in governance. Not even the second stage re-colonisation that our leaders seem hell-bent in taking us into.
If we don’t get it right today, given our fragile socio-economic configuration, the long term effect will be so ferocious that it will consume the nation and leave us even worse than what we are currently experiencing. The social fabric of our nation will further be eroded. The gulf in social strata will get wider.
While some of us who want true change in the course of our daily existence are patient, with the absolute belief that it will definitely come sooner than later, the majority are tired of the hardship.
Oh how I wish I could provide an answer for the nation’s ailing health or, wish that we could come together as citizens and find a solution to this puzzling illness, which has seen us taking Gammalin 20 to treat dysentery.