…….we iron out lots of things and put in place, the painful process that will stabilise the system and society, before that tomorrow comes.
How do we establish a non-exploitative society where social justice, the rule of law and clear democratic principles shape the direction of our future? Are we ready to collectively demystify the masquerade of politics and give people the opportunity to express their opinions and challenge the government openly and honestly without them being seen by those behind the masks of power as obstacles to their greed?
What do we as a nation truly need or want? What type of leaders are we really looking for? Is it those entrusted with leadership and who know the true meaning of their role as servant-leaders; or tin ‘gods’ that must be worshipped as immortals the moment they take the oath of office.
Do we want to continue to condone those who end up thinking that they are doing us favours by accepting to lead; or do we want those who see their mission as a stake in the destiny of the nation? Let’s not forget that while a nation can find its voice in a man, that man, especially if he is detached from the realities of the people, cannot constitute the nation.
As a people and nation, are we willing to establish mechanisms that will force those given the reins of power to conform to the dictates and the principles of democracy? I am not talking of the prevalent democracy of the rich and powerful, by the rich and powerful, for the rich and powerful, but a setting of mass participatory democracy in which the will of the people prevail and the national aspiration is a collective dream; not that of a tree wanting to become a forest.
Seriously speaking, if we want to get it right in 2017, the fact is that we must now ensure that the narration of the socio-political and even economic change we dream of, permeates individual lives across the strata, or else, change in our national life will only be a mirage.
We are beginning to see the lantern parade to herald the season of the masquerades. However, due to the lack of critical political clarity among the generality of the people, if we do not get the masses sufficiently re-orientated, we plant in vain and the harvest of change will be another unmitigated disaster.
Right now, the increasing desire for change, especially by those who think Sierra Leone is in a nightmarish state and are restlessly looking for a better, more functional and less corrupt country, is reaching a crescendo.
Yet, one thing that is clear, is the absence of an articulated master plan of our national and individual demands and expectations; that will fit the mantra of change to rebuild our house, which is on the brink of a nervous breakdown and ruins.
Collectively, it is imperative that we are able to delineate and reconcile guided strategies and tactics in a framework that motivates the people and lead them to buy into the blueprint of the nation’s proposed development path for a rebirth.
It is obvious that our problem in Sierra Leone is leadership and not that of followership.
It is often the pretentious pseudo-humility at the onset of the search for political power, which often fools the people into believing in the deliverance power of contending participants.
Consequently, because of the limited political awareness, ethnicity, religion and party; or pure electoral fraud, the emergence of the wrong kind of leadership, becomes a recurrent factor that leaves us with the end-result often a far cry from what it says on the tin.
At the root of our governance failure and societal dysfunction is the lack on national ideology which will supersede the parochial and vaunted strategic perceptions of our major parties and politicians.
Removing these inherent flaws should therefore become our urgent focus and the thrust during the first phase of the process for change.
Experience has taught us that all politicians simply put on a mask to gain the trusts of the gullible electorate. Their basic instincts and the chorus of their profession, mostly leads them into hoodwinking us with the fact that they are in it for national interests.
Obviously, the easiest part of politics is mounting the podium and telling the world what your visions and missions are. The fun part of politics is to dance to some ‘paddle’ music and have men; women and children chant your name. Our politicians love this bit.
What they hate, is the hard part which entails grabbing power and ensuring that as an agent of change they become the champion of the voiceless; ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of the people and making their leadership meaningful in the lives of the masses; rather than slogans, diet of promises, fantasy projects with no direct bearing on relieving the pains of the majority; and vaunted ambitions.
Therefore, as the search for the dish of progress gathers a different momentum and the pace of the clamour for change quickens, the only reason why the falcon cannot hear the falconer anymore, points to the now-exposed reality that any ‘crook’ can cook.
But then, the proof that most of our chefs have not been good enough for the type of banquet we’ve been craving, has been found in the pudding they’ve been giving us, which has led the nation not only to the brink of disaster, but also on a merry-go-round that has benefitted only select members, at the national fete.
Similarly, the sweet democratic and economic symphony which the people heard at the inception of the present government is not only beginning to turn sour, but with its fading chorus, majority of Sierra Leoneans have come to appreciate that they have been unwittingly tricked into drinking a cup of poison (accepting the current regime) simply because there was a cube of sugar (Ernest Koroma) in it.
It is clear that whoever takes over from President Ernest Koroma is in for a herculean task reforming the country in the face of increasing awareness and expectations, especially from the increasing number of social media generation.
The question therefore is: how do we prevent questionable characters from participating in politics and selling dud to us again? How do we secure the ingredients of a new socio-political delicacy?
Some potential cooks are already in the kitchen.
A strategically ‘born-again’ Maada Bio has set out his stall, telling us in a recent clarion call to arms that he is not the messiah; but he’s willing to team up in the quest for the new Sierra Leone.
However, this oversimplifies the short, medium and long term needs of the political challenges that Sierra Leone faces and raises the question of whether this is simply a change in tactics concomitant to his political agenda.
How much of his baggage has he been able to shed? How many people has he been or would he be able to convince that he is indeed an apostle for change?
On his part another front-runner, Kandeh Yumkella throws his hat in, because the battle-royale for the soul of our country is about making a difference in people’s lives and using what he has learnt, “for the benefit of my people and the next generation.”
Indications however is that it appears it is more of his comprehensive personality profile that will mostly be raised when the cacophony from other interested claimants begin. And therein lies the questions about his suitability or otherwise.
With a party structure that is already tainted, behind him, if he emerges on the platform of the SLPP as is being rumoured; is he not likely to perpetuate the dysfunctional political status quo? How can he doggedly pursue neo-liberal agenda or be a fanatical follower of the market forces religion and also hope to create mass sustainable jobs?
How about his sentimental orientation and attachment to the inglorious international interference-disguise that is known as external assistance? Given that he would not be able to command structures and funds at the snap of his fingers like he has been doing for the various projects he’s been acclaimed as championing, how does he marry his talk with the walk when he is confronted with political realities?
Where lies his loyalty and belief? How do they relate to the historically weak, ethno-cultural and socio-economic orientation of a long-eared, poverty-stricken, emasculated and totally disillusioned populace?
More on these two and other potential masquerades as they make themselves known.
Meanwhile, change is not only natural and normal, it is often inevitable. Which is why after eight years of the present administration and without taking anything away from whatever perception, individuals have of its ‘achievements’, the truth is that behind all the façade, what we still have is a vicious circle in which a majority of the people have been excluded from the commonwealth.
It would be blasphemous to totally dismiss ‘all’ that the present government has purportedly achieved since it came into power. Likewise, it would definitely be heretic to join the chorus of those who believe the generality of the people are better off after eight years of the Koroma administration.
Nevertheless, having had a taste of what the present administration has to offer, most of the populace, despite attempts to portray the contrary, are unhappy with their lot.
Now, this is not just an ordinary indictment of the Koroma government for political cheapskate, it is the general view amongst the masses, that the set menu which they have been offered, sticks in the craw and they have been kept away from the a la carte dining.
Their message can be summed up in my adaptation of a Calvin Miller letter thus:
“Dear Rulers, (Potential ones take note)
Your ego has become a wall between yourselves and us. You’re not really concerned about us, are you? You are mostly concerned about whether or not your overdrive spin is working… about whether or not you’re doing a good job. You’re really afraid that we will not applaud, aren’t you? You’re afraid that we are no longer bowing down to you in deference. You are so caught up in the issue of how we are going to receive your speeches and tokens, you haven’t thought much about us at all.
We might have loved you, but you’re so caught up in self-love that ours is really unnecessary. If we no longer give you the time of day, it’s because we feel so unnecessary. When we see you at the microphone, we see Narcissus at his mirror. You seem in control of everything, but the people that matter. You see everything so well, but us. You ‘do’ everything so well but those things that matter to us. Suffering, from messianic hallucinations, we are a bad coin in the midst of your currencies.
But this blindness to us, we’re afraid, has made us deaf to you and opened our eyes to who you really are.
We must go now till 2017. Sorry. We know you’ll call us later as you are beginning to do with the buses and other issues. Don’t worry we’ll come back to you when you are real enough to see us…after your arrogance has been wrecked and you have been choked by your greed.
Then there will be room for all of us in your world. Then you won’t care if we applaud your brilliance. You’ll be one of us.”
Signed: The Silent Masses.
In another development, recent developments on the political front are indeed a cause for concern.
For one, I see that an ex-convict is now our image in Nigeria while other recent appointments symbolise the maxim “well done thou good and faithful servant”.
The Anti Corruption Commission continues to show itself as the tiny Corgi dog that snaps at the heels of the poor who wear flip-flops but simply sniff the leather shoes of the well-dressed.
The executive continues to milk the treasury dry while promoting agendas that cloak them in the garb of heroes; and the legislature is more silence of the lamb than the hub of laws and the conscience of our animal farm.
As for the judiciary, it revels in playing poker on a cash and carry basis with justice.
The masses on the other hand, continue to dine with Ebola and poverty.
Our day is complete.
The good news is that President Koroma has become the catalyst for change; because his lack of change means we need to change. It reinforces the imperative for change, in the interest of our future.
Whatever the case, it is futile to stop an idea whose time has come. But there are issues and we need to start tackling them from now. Change is change, but whether change is positive or negative would depend on the change agents. That is the challenge.