The Ebola crisis is bringing to our consciousness a lot of disquieting questions.
For one if Ebola were to be eradicated tomorrow where do our leaders stand on the side of history? As a people what is the level of our complicity in the socio-political evolution of our beloved country? Should we all be tarred with same odious brush of insincerity ?
Because whether we like it or not, the unwanted Ebola has shone a blinding light on how cosmetic some of government’s trumpeted transformational agenda is; and the sizeable gap between the lofty rhetoric about social justice, prosperity and reality.
There is the myth that the real difficulty in Sierra Leone is managing the expectations of the people.
I don’t subscribe to this. To me, Sierra Leoneans are, if anything, an undemanding, starry-eyed, docile and a phenomenon of passionate political silence.
The real challenge is managing the dysfunction created by our political system and a governance that elevates deception to a form of governing; which is a symptom of our societal problems.
Whatever the veracity of some of the stories and reported actions of our political elite, pre-Ebola and since then, the truth remains that people’s irritation with them, is only a minor irritation in the scheme of things.
We can no longer feel it is safe to stick our necks further down the sand and rather than face the facts that we have got a serious problem and it is about time we faced the facts and see what we can do as a collective.
This is the dawning reality. The political elites, who are often strangers to principles, oblivious of the hardship of the ordinary people, have succeeded in creating a creaking society of disillusioned and disposed citizens.
From comments, snide remarks and other views, angry people are spilling out across the country with their reservoir of bile. There is a humiliating trauma in the sudden realisation that the national leadership has been holding the peoples’ feet to the fire to fuel their own lust and thirst for power, wealth and fame.
Our lot for several years now has been a little while of feast and several years of famine; blood, sweat and tears as well as a maelstrom of deceit. The glorious moments, pulsated with almost plethora rapture, eventually end up as seasons of mists and a mirage in the unreal bubble where they are often conjured.
Therefore, if we want to be honest with ourselves, the simple and consistent deconstruction of hypocrisy and impunity by the political class is the only way that we can take the crumbled pieces of a broken Sierra Leone and transform them into something more attractive and worthwhile for the commonwealth.
As a nation, we need to realise that every once in a while, an opportunity presents itself to a people to put their personal and short-term interests aside and make a collective decision that will impact their united journey.
So, as we survey the landscape of our beloved country where the gap between the poor who are dying like cockroaches and the rich who are getting fatter by the day is widening, we have to pause and think about the kind of society we want to build.
If the gulf between the ceiling where a selected few are sat on their velvet chairs and the floor, teeming with the crawling, poverty-ridden, Ebola-ravaged many, gets higher, we cannot continue to build or run our affairs with sentiments, emotions and even wrong assumptions.
If majority of the people see our national glass as half-empty and not half full, then we have to lance the boil of deceit, political and social shenanigans by all and sundry as well as the level of disenchantment and contradictions that have been holding our society back.
For one, and whether we believe it or not, the virtual alienation of the majority from the political process has turned into underlying hatred of politicians and their cheap huckstering and dastardly scheming.
Our society has evolved into a ‘me’ first; grabbing and grasping society in which the strong, under delusion of separateness, tread on the weak; a culture where innumerable lies and half-truths have obscured the true nature of the colossal deception that has been our governance.
For example, the jury is still out on the three days of national paralysis which has now been extended, even when it flies in the face of international advice., with twisting talk, blithering blether and a slim prospectus of ever intending to deliver.
Varied reports abound depending on the protagonist’s love of the life of delusion, escapism and grand denial to attain the role he/she has cast.
While the cost has not been revealed, the lack of kits, denigrating single bar of soap and reports of accredited trainees being swapped with relatives by some unscrupulous officials is a confirmation that there are immoral and avaricious individuals who are doing everything that they can to siphon more of our common wealth for their own gluttonous agenda; even at the cost of lives.
No matter the severity of the situation, they are so desperate to hold on to the vestiges of power and to feed fat on whatever they can;and so, are ready to try all dastardly means to do so. But it is an absolute disgrace and there are no redeeming features in these desperados even if they attempt to dazzle us with their cloth of respectability.
For far too long Sierra Leone has been cursed with the plague of corrupt officials who have been able to stash ill-gotten perks of office in foreign banks and/or invest them in luxurious mansions, expensive cars or elite education for their children.
What baffles me most is the question I keep asking myself time and time again: does it occur to these mountebanks, whosehands are perennially dripping with the pure red blood of innocent adults and children who die as a result of this conscious action and as well as the total impunity and blatant disregard for the citizens they are supposed to serve, that life is vanity, and also short?.
I have been at pains trying to fathom out ifthe horribly muddied conscience of these officials is ever pricked when they see the sad 6 o’clock faces of their fellow citizens in this day and age as they drive in their state-of-the art cars or wallow in the daily tragic-comedy of the people rushing to their villas, bowl in hand, to receive rations of food and chicken change,like refugees.
Poverty reigns amidst abundant wealth, as corruption becomes the defining feature of this epoch.
When the shackle of Ebola is taken of our necks, we need to start a robust and structured debate on the future of a nation where things that we used to take for granted up till the early 1980’s are today luxuries or totally alien to a majority of the people.
Government’s transformation agenda was supposed to have been several notches up with fabulous results in many sectors, but yet, the what the ordinary citizens understand about dividends of democracy for the ordinary citizen such as the provision of basic amenities – roads, water, power supply and healthcare. The people need a piece of the action to give them a sense of belonging in the national project, while those at the top loot the treasury all in the name of service.
There is a necessity to examine why the parliament has a revolting stench where it should have a record of credibility, and no legislator can challenged the effrontery of the executive. At least even under despotic Siaka Stevens, we still have a number of politicians who openly disagreed with some things or put up a semblance of resistance.
No way can we continue to live on a diet of lies that are spewed and scattered as the gospel. We have got to have the courage to believe the truth and develop some moral back bone.
There is now a compelling need for us to speak out so that that those who are leading us to disaster will not claim they did not know.
Maybe Sia Koroma, (the President’s wife was right afterall despite chickening out of her submission) that we need to pray to God for our sins. Because, many are the errors of our ways that have saddled us with the type of society that we have ended up with.
Nevertheless, my take on things is that when we gather our breathe again we can seize this opportunity to assess our lot devoid of sentiments.
Post-Ebola, is the great opportunity we have been waiting for. It is the greatest wake-up call that must decide many issues for us as a nation, more than several epoch-making years have ever done.
Meanwhile we need to keep hope alive and do the best we can to break the yoke of this rampaging venom.