By: Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon
I read someone describing President Koroma, who, in athinly disguised indignation, called agitators against the growing socio-economic plight of the people, irritants, as the last Pele.
How sad. Because in the desperate ambition to launder images, political praise-singers often fail to appreciate the semantics of their imagery.
Pele was acknowledged among others, for his dribbling skills, which appears to be exactly what the present administration is doing to Sierra Leoneans – playing them like football and taking them as gullible mugs.
It is a strong indictment of our leadership that almost eight years after we voted for change, almost on a daily basis, thousands of disillusioned, hopeless and desperate youths just want to get out of the country; while families and despairing individuals, do anything just to survive; even though the nation is not poor.
The mismanagement of our rich human and natural resources, bad governance, corruption and the vicious circle of social strife, poverty and unemployment, have left us perilously at the bottom of the global ladder.
Saying otherwise and making jests of what amounts to the pains and heartaches of millions of people under the yoke of poverty and total neglect, is not only insensitive but also gross disrespect.
The gala extravaganza to buttress this point, also amounts to a cheap, propaganda-jamboree stunt, under what is now essentially, a tarnished golden arch.
It is an indication of how power has warped the last iota of decency and empathy in the country’s leadership.
What an irony for a bunch of odious opportunists, most of whom were being supported by friends and the generous welfare system of foreign lands before they stumbled on the commonwealth of Sierra Leone, which they are now devouring with extreme gluttony.
What the hell? Don’t they know there is an open sore on the minds and dignity of many Sierra Leoneans and it is unfair and inhumane for anyone, no matter how privileged, to dismiss general concerns, as something worth ignoring.
Yet, every day, we are being dished the same stale stew, warmed up, and served in new plates as the much trumpeted elephant, goes into labour, but ends up delivering a mouse. And we are meant to take it or lump it.
Obviously, the insect eating up the vegetable, lives inside it.
The brazen bravado and steaming pile of manure, from the controllers of our wheezing democracy, is the confirmation that the minds, thinking, desires and aspirations of our leaders are not on the same plane, with the yearnings and aspirations of the generality of Sierra Leoneans, at a time like this.
Whether it is Emerson, who is bold enough to put into music what many are saying in whispers, or others who are silently groaning, a sensible administration with the utmost respect for the people it governs, will realise when such rumblings begin to emerge, that a social system of almost seven million independent agents will sooner or later, get to boiling point.
Things are getting desperate out there and the anger level is rising.
Those pawns of foreign business interests, laden with power, may disagree with the postulation of people like Emerson and other crusaders, but to tag concerns as an aberration, is to be impolite and judgemental, yet unwilling to submit to the same forensics. Fault the logic; don’t tag the argument, is a basic brain storming tenet. And God knows we need one.
I’m aware that the official line to the true state of affairs is denial. But for how long shall we continue with such deception; just because those at the helm of affairs can entice, a-la rent-a-crowd, the support to mask reality.
Reciting the old hits is one thing – those ‘moronic caricatures’ on our streets, are crying out for new materials.
The fact that our system and processes are corrupt and closed to honesty, is not a licence for those leading us and who are tempted to do wrong by indecorous means, to continue to be blind to the fact that the genie has nowleft the bottle.
Sierra Leoneans can’t take much bashing for long. They are now more informed and more unified in their focus and expectations.
The average Sierra Leonean, groaning under the yoke of economic hardship, knows that our devious leaders’only plan for the future of our country, centres on enriching their pockets.
That their focus is plainly on how to strangulate the nation for political leverage.
That they are full of heartless comportment towards developing the country and tainted by an impairment of integrity, virtue, morals or principles.
What evidence; did I hear you ask? Go round the choicest parts of the country and you will be confronted by the evidence of fraud and criminality by those in the corridors of power. Ask the plebs around.
Go to the ports; the building material shops and the fore courts of car showrooms and ask.
Our system, which is full of social ills that those who rile against are demonised for, just seems to be plodding along.
It is only a matter of time until one more innocuous raindrop lands on the mound and the whole mountain of dunghillon offer collapses with great energy.
Let’s not forget that popular uprising is like an avalanche. Interesting times we live in.
Whose country is it anyway?
That we have no right to complain. Because of the children yet unborn, what would we tell them we lived our lives for? That we sold our democracy down the line of compromise?
That our entrenched liberties are thrown out of the window simply for not belonging to the ruling party.
I’m sorry, but this is about our collective future and we need to hold our leaders to account, irrespective of party affiliation or personal affinity.
It will not be easy. But we need to consolidate the things that work and fix the things that are broken. We also need to fix us, THE PEOPLE.
Our thinking now, has to be about negating the past that hasn’t worked and fashioning a future that may work.
However, until we make our leaders realise that it is the people that make things work, then I am afraid that we will remain in the clutches of the tyranny of mediocrity. We will be locked in this grip, for a while . . . . A long while.
Unfortunately, we do not have the time to reset generations of rot. Any more years of no material progress, is not something to contemplate.
We not only need a moral reset, we just have to ensure that we re-develop our knowledge and competency base, otherwise we will only attain short term gains that are, by definition, unsustainable.
Which, is what the last eight years shows.
We can strive over time. But, the immediate requirement is to recover our commonwealth and move the economy forward, as much as we can.
There is an urgent need to strengthen the relevant institutions that will be required to do this. And corruption, in every facet of our system,is an obligatory starting point.
The habit of scouring the world for a saviour, doesn’t wash. And we’ve been on this same path for aye, without success.
Visionary leaders, do not apportion blames. Sadly, we have always been under the toxic influence of massive overdose of bad governance; right from the days of our independence to the contemporary era, which is why we continue to look unto the hills to ask: where will our help come from?
Giving our current circumstances, we have to appreciate that a totally different thinking model is required for innovation, change etc.
You cannot effect innovation by tethering it to the past(precedents). An exploration thinking model is usually called for in the circumstances in which we find ourselves and where everything else seems to have failed.
The only solution to our collective dilemma as a nation, is a multi-pronged approach that will stop the rot of going round and round in the current circle of delusion.
The dominant narrative out there, believe it or not, is the state of our murky world. We desperately need value in the leadership of the nation.
I have to be very careful here not to rile emotions.
But for God’s sake, until we, as a people, take one decision: to grab the destiny of this country in our hands and sweat it out, we are just being hypocritical when we expect the nation to rise again.
There are two ways to reset a system – evolutionary over-time incremental changes to key variables. Or the faster, usually more successful revolutionary, external shocks to the system.
Like it is said, yesterday was our experience; today our experiment, while tomorrow is the expectation.So, we need to use our experience in the experiment to achieve our expectations. No more, no less.
We should stop putting loyalty before objectivity because in the long run, it neither helps us nor the object of our loyalty.
Moral reset does not need time, just a psyche-based fear of high consequences for wrong actions.
That, can be instituted rather quickly, with the right catalysts.
Can’t we, or are we not able to be original and optimise our own situation for our own progress?
Today’s norms are yesterday’s un-practices and will also be obsolete in favour of future norms.
For national rebirth and innovation, all those who wish Sierra Leone well, should please start the process of forcing our leaders, to use those sacrificial practices that have built countries, with similar experiences like ours.
Nations, whose leaders have models steeped in dynamics that create a new society, where every project is technically a rebirth from the attendant insights and useful experiences garnered over time.
It make sense in the context of changing our society for the better and giving a greater majority of our people the opportunity to maximise their potential.
Those should be our assessment criteria. Not roads. Not praise singing. Not emotions. And definitely, not by tearing ourselves apart for selfish reasons.
Our country stands the chance of better expanding its sphere outside its current self-imposed restriction and the better management of its economy , if and only if , we could gear up to tolerate short to medium term tough, economic and social sacrifices.
The adherence to good conduct must and should not be limited to the misuse of public funds.
My message to those who have become sensitive to criticisms, or who are impervious to the reality of the people of Sierra Leone, is that if you want to be a crusader, your equity must be unyoked.
If you claim to be an advocate of chivalry, like our leaders posture, you should modulate your lifestyle, utterances and ego.
To us, the followers, it’s been fifty five years of hurt and pain. We need to wake up from party, regional and ethnic affiliations and join the revolutionary crusade for true change and a better future; if we don’t want vampires to continue to suck the blood that flows through all of us from our independence.
We have been in the: what is the problem with Sierra Leone and its leaders’ mode, for over five and a half decades?Let’s stop the beer-parlour debatesover the issue;which are often devoid of real patriotism, will-power, and gritty emotion. Let us realise that we cannot continue to pick a collection of people on evil mission, and expect they would build the nation, talk less of making progress.
However, we must never lose sight of the fact that it is our tacit collusion in the nation’s problems, as well as the creation of a shameless, selfish and unserious political class which believes service is entitlement, along the fallen educational standards, youths’ unemployment, lack of a collective vision and sometimes wrong orientation etc., that have brought us to where we are today.
The Sierra Leone We Want? We are getting very close – to that last raindrop. But before that day arrives, it would be expeditious for the leadership to endeavour to turn things around for the better, build a general consensus for progress, or be swept away in the torrent of social discontent that may arise.
That’s the truth of the matter.