Regardless of our political stripes or lack thereof, I still believe we need to ask ourselves some hard questions. One of which is: how many of us truly love Sierra Leone? How many of us are really desirous of its progress? How many of us understand that we are far from where we should be?
Bearing the rot that presently pervades virtually all sectors of our nation, how many of us are willing to make the requisite sacrifice for its restoration and glory? The process of the cherished dream that we pray for, is not a straight line into the future but a real drunk-ant walk, are we willing to say if we perish, we perish; but Sierra Leone must be a better place and a true land of freedom, liberty and equity?
Believe me if you wrote the stories that make up this country’s governance and political elites’ operating patterns, as fiction; and took it to a credible publisher, your manuscript might struggle to find acceptance. Why? They’ll say the stories are too far-fetched. Our reality, has become stranger than fiction.
I am at a loss why leadership, patriotism and nationalism have turned into an albatross for us. Why have those who seek our mandate, failing to express the required traits, such as knowledge of their brief, a vision and good resource and man management skills, all delivered on a platter of honesty and sincerity of purpose, once they achieve their personal goal?
Sadly, it is that last bit – honesty and sincerity of purpose – that has become like a green sun in our beloved Sierra Leone. Our leaders appear to find it difficult to put in place, a fit for purpose process and accept no compromises in the discharge of their duties whatsoever, in the pursuit of a collective aspiration.
They fail to appreciate that wealth is just a mere measurement. When you have measurement but no cloth; that is deep poverty of the soul. And this, largely explains the stranger than fiction antics and the irrepressible need of virtually all those who have been put in position of leadership as well as those aspiring, to burnish their image rather than steer the people on the path of true national progress.
Yet, without a shadow of doubt, Sierra Leone is beset by a series of enduring problems of corruption, gut-wrenching poverty and grotesque political impunity and rascality. But what you see, is yesterday’s paupers, now with bank balances of imaginable proportion from no known legitimate source, selling us dummies, and we heap praises on them.
Right now, poverty walks across the land on all four legs; despite the prank of the government’s flowery reports of fantastic achievements and hollowed promises of greater things to come, which mean nothing to a famished, weather-beaten and disease-ravaged people, existing on the very brinks of survival.
We don’t even need a seer to help us discern the fact that majority of the people of our beloved country want food, proper shelter, jobs and other basic necessities that make other countries appear supernatural. They wonder why ours is different.
Which is why amidst our current horrifying spectacle and despair, majority of Sierra Leoneans have become tired of our lack of progress and the tendency to go into denials that there are no problems; or that such impediments can be transformed, by a snap of the finger.
The world is moving at a frenetic pace. Yet, our national patrimony is being swallowed by a few and we are being led to believe that we are doing far better than those who are already in a different century.
For example, does anyone really believe that our nation will simply pick up the pieces of its battered existence from where it was left, pre-Ebola? I mean, can one ever get to a destination without even starting the journey? I doubt it, except in the realm of dreams.
Yet, that is the thrust of the message of ‘hope’ by President Koroma as Sierra Leone was officially declared Ebola free. I have no qualms about that. I believe that the essence is to scrub away the stain of failing leadership which his administration was accused of, at the height of the epidemic.
As he tries to convince us that it was the outside world that led his administration on a wrong navigation, at the inception of the rampaging virus, much of the media, to its shame, went along uncritically. Another segment of the populace, expectedly, cheered in approval. What a pity.
Such grandeur of illusion which has been the major impediment to our development, emphasises the need for our leaders to put aside arrogant assumptions, discard damaging old narratives, and engage with today’s reality.
As a result of this, it is imperative for pockets of civil society groups, embarking on the hazardous attempt to unplug our national desire from the amplifier of victim-complex which our leaders continue to force down our psyche; and those seeking true political emancipation, to appreciate that our contemporary politics appears to have been drained of honesty and authenticity and is now being drawn towards a morass of bland neutrality and gross deception.
Because, with everyone crying out about the hardship in the land, the continuing bleaching of genuine public discourse and the putting on of a mascara of ruse and illusion, makes one wonder whether the government is truly committed to steering the country in a new direction and learning from the failures exposed by our recent socio-economic and political experiences.
As I stated earlier, we face a myriad of challenges, including insecurity, increasing violence and economic downturn, no matter how the government wants to colour the truth. Surely, we can fix our problems. But obviously, this will depend on the collection of ideas, policies and commitment as well as the readiness of our leaders to lead us on the path of the necessary sacrifices of unity of purpose.
But the truth is, the APC stinks; the SLPP reeks of dung and the rest of the political class as mostly constituted now, appears diametrically opposed to national aspirations. Our politicians have no ideology and therefore no concrete plan for our salvation. They are neither right, left nor centre. Simply put, they are clueless and there, lies the conundrum of our national merry-go-round.
It is why once a party wins election, the greater good of their members and hangers-on always supersede the greater good of the nation. It is why the oppression of all forms of opposition and dissent takes precedence over the articulation of a patriotic frame and national balance, from the contest of ideas, the storm and tempest of political differences.
Anyway, so much water has passed under the bridge, that Sierra Leone’s political riverbed is almost dry, since we were told at the start of the political cabaret in 2007, that the country would become an El Dorado within three years. Since then, some performances have been as hollow as the words that describe the narratives which those in power monopolised, by their preposterous behaviour.
True, there were occasions that gave the nation something meaningful to shout about. However, when governance in the last eight years is stripped bare of the histrionics of impunity and the brooding disdain for truth and justice, those who were meant to be the saving grace and the engineers of a new political culture, will hear the whistle-shrill of disappointment, from those who gave them undiluted support at the beginning.
Today, as the sulphurous smoke of Ebola clears; and the country’s head is cluttered with broken political furniture; a bald fact stands in luminous isolation and our collective aspirations remain buried in the debris washed up on the shores of our present situation, by the tide of several events.
The immediate aftermath of an experience like the Ebola epidemic needs landmark responses – moments that will define the leadership of a nation. The sobering, even calamitous months ahead, may and in fact should, prove a turning point to teach us (both the leaders and the led) to leave all our emotional baggage on the political back-burner.
There is a miserable silence across the land today, because we are realising that we were sold-off for pennies by pimps who parade as leaders of our various ethnic, social, religious and political compositions. The nation keeps going round in circles because the current political set up and its operators from the three tiers of government, have passed their sell-by date; leaving our salvation in need of re-building. But we, the followers are just as guilty, in our desire for true change.
Instead of a feeling of helplessness, hopelessness, and despair, it seems plain as the noses on our faces that we have to stop passing the buck and remember that a people deserve the leadership it gets. Our leaders are part of us, they mirror our subconscious collective aspirations. It is well to bear in mind what an old sage said once. “Be the change you want in the world.” From all indications the elite one percent that currently constitute our leadership, isn’t the solution to our woes. WE ARE.
We need a change; one person at a time, in our individual lives and our society. The rot is deep. As a leadership and a followership, we are not too fragrant. We need to WALK THE TALK!!! We do not really love our nation or our compatriots, as ourselves. In fact, some of us do not really love our very self.
My question is: when then do we all sit down to say “this is the plan for a new Sierra Leone and we are going to stick with it; no matter which party is in power”? Who will start the emancipation of our future? Will Mr/Mrs Citizen ever wake up? Are the selfish ones among us ever going to realise that the safety of the rope, is the safety of the bird?
It is only when that starts, that we are indeed talking. Our politics should mirror our economic aspirations, not the other way around. When this happens, then the journey to the real land of milk and honey – our own promised land – would have started. Yes, followership is one of the major keys, if not entirely the most pertinent one to our development and renaissance.
Agreed that right now, we have a parasitic followership, but it is in consonance with the leadership; which has no notion of “servant leadership”; or its sacred responsibility, of doing the greatest good for the greatest numbers of the masses.
Our leaders treat their followers with utter contempt – stealing them blind and then treating them like beggars. The impunity with which they fleece people and carry out other kinds of nefarious activities, now knows no bounds. It is no longer corruption. It is now rape… rape with unlubricated hot rods.
It is perfectly normal for governments to get drowned in the cacophony of adulations from soldiers of fortune that have no scruples, and feel no remorse, about running their country aground.
But I laugh because we talk of the entire societal body being rotten and some are expecting clean fingers. The fact is that the entire nation from head to toe, is 99.95% rotten. For every one government office holder that steals public funds, there are about 100 accomplices.
All fonts of economic generation have been milked to feed the fancies of a clueless and banal clique who sees their comfort, pleasure and personal desires, far above that of a Sierra Leone that is practically an expansive grave for citizens who are forced to survive on their own sheer will to live.
That is how messy things have gotten and it stresses the need to reformat the system. It is the reason why we must bring to the fore, our people’s civil rights and ensure a consistent ongoing political education and orientation. Sadly, some, especially the desperate down-trodden citizens, are unwittingly turning into accomplices, without realising it. They perish for lack of knowledge.
This emphasises the urgent need for an independent, committed and selfless movement to educate the people and enlighten them on their duties as citizens. To teach them to be vigilant. To make them see the unimaginable depth of depravity, to which they are being subjected by the current bunch of politician, both old and new. To help them to love themselves and their country.
They have to appreciate that the preaching and claims by the political elite, about the fratricidal nature of our society and their attempts to promote primordial sentiments, cultural and ethnic differences and cancerous corruption, are not and will never be in the interest of the generality of the people. It is meant to benefit only the conclave of those in the corridors of power.
That, the discordant sounds of music in the air, are mainly creations of the political vampires who employ them, to divide the populace and ensure that there is no united action by the people to genuinely transform their country for the benefit of all and not a few.
We have got to motivate ourselves to make this country work. The youths and indeed the present generation, who though lack role models, have to stand up and change their perception. They have to wake from their slumber and dare to be different by realising that taking the bull by the horns is a strategy to key development.
They cannot continue to sell their birth rights and falsely wait for a tomorrow that has long been at hand, but which they swapped for crumbs, from the sumptuous tables of overfed politicians. This is the time to act; the destiny of the nation’s unborn children is right in the hands of those of us alive today. This is the time for action; time to take the knife to the root. To be the shepherds and custodians of our national destiny. There is no more time for frivolities.
Sierra Leone’s salvation, apart from genuine inclusive developmental agenda, is also in need of a priority list that encapsulates what we need and require most, even with the enormity of problems and challenges enveloping us.
As far as I know, it is only a medicine man that boasts of being the husband to a witch.
The emerging moral imperatives of the re-orientation and political education of those most affected by the sequential grid of our national calamity, is hopefully, a symbol of the future direction of Sierra Leone.
The nation waits for a new era. An age of unconditional love. A period that upholds the true meaning of our national anthem – “……Land that we love, our Sierra Leone”
How I pray that we can all seize on this opportunity in the current last chance saloon.