Salvaging Our Democracy 2: Let’s Beware of the ‘Ides’ of Bandwagon

Without a shadow of doubt, to get out of the dark place we currently find ourselves, it has become imperative that we get rid of all those who have, or have had their hands, in the nation’s sparkle jar.

But have you ever seen a poorly knit sweater unfold by the pull of a single thread of wool? Well, I’m afraid that’s where the desperate desire to bring the dominance of the two main parties to an end will lead us, if we overlook the structures that are responsible for our predicament and focus solely on having on the platter, the heads of the faces that presently lubricate the ills of our society.

Jumping on the bandwagon of the wind of change that has toppled the regimes in Nigeria and the Gambia is good and welcome, but in a system with no competing ideologies and with question marks on most of the symbols of the perceived change, how about the law of unintended consequences that will be let loose and whose impact will touch every corner of our society? Who is the symbol of that thrust? What credentials do they carry? What colour is their skin, if they are to take off the toga they currently adorn in the desperate bid to be seen as worthy?

It requires wisdom to understand wisdom. The music is nothing if the audience is deaf. Let’s not forget that a deaf husband and a blind wife are always a happy couple. This is why we should not allow even the change-halo cast on our individual and collective psyche, to dull our analytical minds. We should be aiming to build strong institutions, not just another set of apparently strong individuals to channel the change.

The saga of playing on the gullibility of a desperate populace and fanning their indignation at the mindless looting and optimal poverty around, just to gain power, is a symptom of why those who are truly desirous of a genuine transformation of the morality and values of our society must stand up NOW.  It’s time to think; to roll up our sleeves and help dig the nation out of this hole.

It is so sad that the long search of a new national beginning is already being tainted by diversions simply geared towards highlighting and emphasizing the omnipotence and indispensability of certain individuals and repackaging the brand of others. Is that what the people really deserve?

We are in trouble, but that’s not the worst part. The real tragedy is that we don’t know that we don’t know. That is why I am sceptical about the premature celebration and the intense desperation that are rearing their heads even before the real contest starts.

If we must build our beloved country from the stagnant water of a pond of political mediocrity, which is familiarly jarring with its putrid antics, then we must put Sierra Leone first; not politics; not religion; not ethnicity or sentiments; and definitely not vengeance. But the development and future of Sierra Leone.

People always make the mistake that majority of Sierra Leoneans really desire a change from the lot that is currently our portion. But in the light of what is going on across the social and political spectrum as we clamber towards the next national polls, I have come to realize that this may be far from the truth.

I hope I’m wrong for the sake of our democracy and national future. But I am aware that the death of a lion cannot be announced by a goat. Our desired change cannot be midwifed by those who have been part and parcel of the rape of our innocence. The acrid rumble of the usual unceasing tittle-tattle among contenders, has again forced me to take a bite of the reality sandwich.

The leopard is beautiful, but, has a bad heart. Despite the fact that there is suffering to alleviate, trauma to soothe, normality to restore to a battered economic and social fabric, the mad rush for a new future is beginning to unearth the emergence of interlopers, masquerading as leaders; as well as navel-gazing peacocks.

Most of those, whose names are on the cards for the two major parties and indeed the increasing mushrooming coalition groups, are nothing but exhibits of the decadence in our political malaise. They inspire such fake morality that elicits satanic worship of their personalities, rather than their answers to the depth of the morass in our society.

My advice to fellow citizens is to beware of the naked man who offers you clothes. Be careful who you trust – Salt and Sugar are both white. Let’s not be the ones to open the door for an armed robber, let them break it, it’s part of their job.

Fair enough, without a leader, black ants are confused. But experience has shown that those who aspire to lead, are beginning to realise that it is much easier to shout change and be seen as an embodiment of that process. To them it is the best strategy for winning elections, than to try and enunciate or actualise change in a fractured, fractious and economically shambolic geopolitical environment such as ours, where the people have been so pauperised that anything is always better than what obtains.

The politics and choices of most of the leading frontmen so far, conspire and threaten to drag the nation to the pit. Their vanity and the glibness of their campaign-promises, indicate that many of them are accomplished con-men who have no earthly clues of governance. They are definitely going to mostly wallow in the perks and privileges of office and probably end up institutionalising the same motto of “we are the world” that has left the welfare of the majority, an after-thought.

I am aware that hustlers have a different kind of rhythm. Often, they play to the gallery. Somehow and unfortunately in our desperation, we seem to prefer their type of beat. We all love the musical chairs of their scam; the heat of their sun that boils our brains, the music of their masquerade that keeps on changing to our moves and the hunger pangs caused by their direct or indirect abuse, that keeps us fit.

We are most comfortable with the ill-gotten wealth that is thrown our way as a goodwill gesture; and the colourful scales that are used to cover our eyes in celebration of our blindness, even though it is from the same ten and ten pence. APC and SLPP. Two sides of the same bad coin that keeps turning up in the midst of our dilemma.

Our values are simply warped. This is also where the real ‘us’ often comes out in the little details. Anyone can form, for the big things, as in life generally. And believe me that is what most of the political smart Alecs that now scramble for power, are doing. Hustlers hustle and only recognise hustle.

But then, how come that we continue to wallow in the hustle that only represent the humiliation, misery, and rejection of our very existence?

Agreed that every society and individual have their own dynamics. Unfortunately, it is well documented that the very moral fabric of Sierra Leoneans and by extension the country itself, has been bastardised by the years of political misery and bloodshed; greed and hypocrisy; ethnic and religious fanaticism as well as the sheer mental and physical laziness of our collective; that have been behind our (mis)fortune.

In our current setting, there is nothing about values or fairness or justice. It is a might-is-right composition. It is why there are no ideological positions on key national issues, either from the current power holders, or those aspiring to replace them.

Our current failed state, is obviously a fallout of the penchant of our leaders’ not only debasing the very moral foundation of our society, but also the decency of the people, by the entrenchment of massive looting and lack of interest in national issues. Similarly, the economic, social and political malaise enveloping us, has made truth and integrity to be seen as the height of insanity.

We need to realise that as a people, Sierra Leone will still exist long after we are gone. There is no need for sorrow, carnage, tragedy and affliction that have struck our nation and overshadowed our glorious history, to continue as the identity of the once, Athens of Africa.

Since the end of the decade-long fratricidal war, the social and economic conditions of Sierra Leoneans have worsened and the news of billions of dollars of funds embezzled by public officials as well as those wasted on grandiose or vanity projects have continued to dominate our discussions.

Especially since 2007, it appears the political class has laid siege on the people of this beloved country. Our very moral has been under serious attack. Since then and as the years progressed, the spirit of hate, selfishness and disunity as well as wanton greed, have crept deeper into the very foundation of the nation, bringing any anticipated change, prosperity, and ethical restoration as well as greatness, to a permanent standstill.

It was as if the enemies of the nation converged in accord with one sinister intention – to drive us beyond the bounds of conventional morality. They are messing with the destinies of the over six million Sierra Leoneans by ensuring that our ability to put an end to their murderous reign of impunity and callousness, are lost in the desperation for survival and the continuous reliance on the crumbs that they throw at us. We are busy chasing rats for survival food in the midst of the fire raging around us.

One thing we need to appreciate is that nothing will work in Sierra Leone, until we first sort out the compelling issue of our morals. It ain’t no rocket science. We ignore this fact to our own detriment. We are our problem. We have to change ‘we’ by force or by real fire.

I mean any system will work with a good and upright people. The reverse is true.

No system will work with bad people. The system is the people; not some magical construct.

And as you may know, a society in decline is more prone to the magical and the mystical than otherwise.

Our educated and political class are the biggest disgrace of all. And yes, that includes you and me. Because, it is from amongst us that we produce leaders. It is us that let down the masses by leading them in the way of the unbelievable.

So, I am sure that when we desire change, it will happen. But for now, maybe it will be another Ernest Koroma’s turn tomorrow, to scam us all? Someone else, to sell us to another round of slavery. Except, we are prepared to deliver our democracy to the path of salvation.

The brutal truth about some of the leading contenders on the horizon, is that I cannot see any of them balancing pragmatic and idealist hopes from their steps and utterances so far. So, we cannot afford to make yet another big mistake as we’ve been doing.

We need to make a lucid and objective analysis of the strength, vision, qualities etc. of each candidate now on the electoral dance floor, devoid of the sentiments of the current hysteria surrounding most of them. Props serve a purpose in interfacing with reality, they don’t become reality. Many on show now, are simply props.

So, may I ask: with the state of our governance, how do you square a circle?

My take: Same way you convert iron to steel. By forging in a foundry. Confirming that only one solution option exists. Therefore the fundamental thought for me as a citizen, is where do we get the kind of good leadership to lead the country?

 Looking at our political carousel, what you find, especially now that politicking seems to have assumed a frenetic speed, is that so far, some of the same people who have stayed on the horses for decades and refused to get off, are jostling for ringside again.

 Our problem has always been self-inflicted, therefore, it is our responsibility collectively, to clear up the mess. Our obstacles to progress has always been in part, our level of denial, self-interest and lack of leadership. For so long, we have revelled in mediocrity and chaos. It was the given. That is the way things are and there is nothing anyone can do about it.

Even, as our governance became a case study in failure and orchestrated chaos.  As gross ineptitude, leadership failures and incompetence manifested in all aspects of our governance, we willingly or unwittingly preferred the distracting illusions that worsened our economy and the living standards of the people.

 Take for example, the current fight by the incumbent to stay in office either by manipulation or through proxies; or his determination to saddle the nation with monstrous debt just for the sake of his fancy and you’ll realise that the claim about a deep love for Sierra Leone, ends at the tip of his nose, just like the narcissist he is.

 It is also what is evident behind the façade put forward by most of the gladiators now jostling for the lead role in our political amphitheatre. Just look at the petulance, arrogance and policy emptiness being displayed by majority of them and you’ll find they are forming the national template.

Is it therefore better to continue to venerate the sharks and piranhas that we put in the corridors of power and who puts us in reverse gear; or have we reached the point where without any prevarications, we are ready to say with the same intensity that has delivered sane nations across the world, that: “Never Again”? Never again, will the worst of us, lead us.

These are hard questions that need to be answered. And whether anyone likes it or not, at the end of the day, we, the people of Sierra Leone, will have to answer them.

If we continue to allow the shallowest of us all to assiduously pick up the gauntlet of power anytime it is up for grabs, I am afraid that the festering sore of our democracy, governance and indeed, our socio-political and economic failures, will sooner than later reach the Ebola pandemic level.

We ain’t seen nothing yet. My position is not my preference, just a logical inevitability. We live in interesting times. None of us, is as smart as all of us. But we must work together to achieve more.  The target is to return power to the people and ensure that we get a thorough-bred servant-leader.

Fair enough, if you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there. The vital question is: Who is going to enhance the moral integrity and political credibility of a sycophantic arena?

Let’s beware of the ‘ides’ of change, in the political whirlwind now blowing. (16/4/17)

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