The Criminalisation of Critical Thinking.

“Development is a tough process and prosperity does not come on a silver platter.” These two things require effective collaboration and perseverance, not “layback theoretical prescriptions” and “half-hearted political grandstanding” – (President Ernest Koroma at the official launching of the Freetown Containers Terminal Extension Project 14/10/16)

This was the same President Koroma who said in the course of his nine years in office that “power is the authority given to you by the people, to improve their lives and develop the country with beneficial expectations.”…….

The real tragedy of our situation in Sierra Leone today, is the fact that truth has been clobbered into a coma. Which is why, when those who lead us scam and hustle their way to the top, reality would have been redefined along the way.

In the light of both contrasting statements above, I guess that we must understand the preacher’s language before decoding his message. I mean, when perceptions become more important than actuality, strange behavioural anomalies usually arise. It causes mistaking the wood for the tree.

It is difficult to actualise a moral reset via dialogue or structures or what have you, when the critical agent of the system, in this case, the President, is behaviourally flawed.

A country that cannot feed itself can only be dependent on other people. For us to emerge from the ills threatening to drown us as a nation, we need to be truthful to ourselves and honestly examine our roles.

I keep on telling people that the truth, the most basic metric of morality, needs no consensus.

Why our leaders refuse to sing from the same morality hymn book we were all raised on, but which a majority have abandoned in the name of adapting the principles embodied in the concept, is a clear indication of the 100% flip in morals in this land.

The political class cannot continue to rape us and expect us to clap for them. If as citizens of Sierra Leone, we believe from our excruciating experience, that competence and performance are on exile, we all should have a say and demand a response from those we have put in authority to manage our collective welfare. It’s all about public service.

Those who see things differently from those in power are part of those who gave their glorious leaders the authority to improve their lives. Not doing so, is why they are seeing things differently. This should not be a finger-pointing exercise. I believe that the powers that be, should have realised that this is the way things are likely to pan out as a result of the law of unintended consequences.

However, I am not quite sure that the writers were aware of this particular aspect of the President’s speech quoted above, in the desperate bid to rev up the siege engine. By taking potshots at those perceived as critics, which is obviously reflective of the true nature of our society and governance, the government reduced the masses, already bludgeoned by mass poverty and austerity, into morons.

I am aware of our penchant to deify the mundane in order to achieve balance. It becomes a moral transformation of the worst and dangerous kind however, when occupiers of the high table of the shrine to our societal fabric and existence and who cannot add to the respect of the position through stellar performance, but detract from it by weakness, choose to point accusing fingers at others as the cause of our woes.

It is always other people’s fault. Never them. That is our prevalent attitude from top to bottom. But recent events should teach us that the roots are deeper than that. And we need to appreciate that, for any progress to take place.

So, among several begging questions, it is imperative to examine the following salient points:

If development is a tough process, why has the government been beating the drum of how much growth it has brought to Sierra Leone; but now wants sympathy and is offended when the truth of our reality is brazenly exposed?

Most of those complaining, if the government cares to listen, are the small, medium-sized businesses, petty traders, individuals, etc. who are not privy to the gravy train leading to and from the corridors of power.  Hasn’t it occurred to the government that finding a way to get money towards them is a really important part of getting out of the challenges that we currently face and is the key to our development, rather than white elephant projects?

So, prosperity does not come on a silver plate? I thought the present administration’s anthem is agenda for prosperity? If prosperity has strings attached, why were the people not told this truth from the onset? Why is it that now that the key of knowledge has been found, the government is changing the padlock?

If both development and prosperity require effective collaboration and perseverance, why are those who point out flaws in the process of attaining the much-desired end result, chastised for doing so? The world is changed by the example and honest contribution, no matter how little, of each of us and not just the opinions of those who lead or want to be worshipped alone.

Plato said: “the word should be a cousin to the deed”. Who is exactly enmeshed in political grandstanding? Is it the government that wants to claim the plaudits when things are going well; or those who have been patriotic enough to reject the kaleidoscope of deception being sold by the government?

By letting the issue degenerate to the level whereby the number one citizen is seen engaging in finger pointing and abrasive reaction, instead of leading from the front, especially when things are rough, is the government indirectly saying that critics should simply fold their hands and watch people with no principles beyond the love of lucre, bring the house down, at the first sign of pain?

If the economy has gone off the boil, I believe that those who strutted and glowed when the swan was blossoming should be man enough to accept the realities, when it turns ugly duckling.

My advice for all that it is worth, is that the government should take another look – one that will tell the whole truth every step of the way; and not whitewash the past, or put a lid on the present – because that is nothing but cheap propaganda; which often comes back to haunt those who indulge in the unwholesome practice for undeserved glory.

One can say it is all inevitable where we are, in the light of the populism that enveloped the provision of services from the onset. Illusion has no shelf lifespan.

French psychologists, Gustav Le Bon, in his book ‘The Crowd’, said that the masses have never thirsted after truth. According to him, whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; and whoever attempts to destroy their illusions, is always the victim.

No doubt, truth is bitter; but we must tell ourselves the unpleasant fact.

Fair enough. Neither our leaders nor we, the followers, can be absolved of the falsehood that defines us as a people. It is quite apparent that in some way, everyone is contributing to the pervasive rot in our country.

But, the country needs to be brought back to the path of sanity. We need to come back to moral rectitude. And this is why it is very sad when leaders resort to manipulative tendencies and siege mentality as a weapon of choice.

Without a shadow of doubt, in a robust democracy, there is bound to be a plurality of opinions on any given issue. As its image takes a battering, the government needs to realise that no matter what it wants us to focus on, the issue of our present realities are, poor economy and hunger in the land. There is also a convergence of views that the country has a corruption problem that needs to be corrected.

Mr. President, the buck stops at your desk. Change should begin from the top. Critics voicing opposition to government’s actions and plans, is a feature of democracy, except in a despotic disposition. Such defined reaction as contained in the paragraph of that speech, is undignified under the current economic and socio-political realities of a battered, bruised and emaciated populace who are looking up for robust leadership and succour.

If you game the system long enough, it stops being fit for purpose. Right now, that is what the murky water of recession has glaringly exposed. It is also revealing the fact that in every pore and in every sinew of our every fibre as a society, there’s some corruption going on. Corruption of thought, action, words and language.

The misplaced, selfish, undemocratic and sometimes, completely unprogressive actions and utterances, show the tendency of a defective leadership, which throws out everything each time a particular concern does not go its way.

It is also sad that the very unintelligent clique whose antics is what has kept Sierra Leone in perpetual poverty, as a result of their mastery of the dark art of nepotism, continue to utilise their closeness to the president to feed him with the diet of political intolerance and ensuring that he makes such utterances that confirm that they, not him, actually are the string pullers.

It is their stupidity which makes those in authority to shun individuals with even nationalistic fervours, to turn them to outcasts simply because they are not adorning anything with the colour red or carrying the membership card of the ruling party. Failure to agree that black is white, is tantamount to ‘treason’.

Meanwhile, the economy continues to slide into recession, every responsible prospective investor keeps its distance from us and only those ready to do shady business come forth; our GDP struggles as our currency embarks on a spiral crash; while greed and impunity grow in stature into unbelievable height.

Yet, a blistering fact is that we will not have any meaningful development except if we make a change and take the knife of reality to the very heart of the combination of factors that have conspired to suppress the growth of a Sierra Leone, so rich in resources, but steeped in poverty, bad governance and endemic corruption.

This is the reason why, while wiser nations are digging deep into their recess and ransacking their resource capital for internal mechanism that will drive their future, our continuous celebration of mediocrity and incompetence has simply seen us promoting people to their level of incompetence.

In turn, the continued obsession with seeking money from any source and throwing it aimlessly at our problems has led to our downfall and ensured the absence of productivity in the discourse of how to weave seemingly disparate political and economic ideas together and into a coherent pattern of thoughts and actions.

The matter is made worse because we don’t practice what we preach. We, including our leaders, preach and talk love; but love is far away from our heart and we fool ourselves and those around us, pretending chronically to be what we are not…what a pity. Whither Sierra Leone?

How do you reset a society’s moral index? How do you prevent a masses revolution when the hungry lot, go savage, as a result of starvation?  How long is a piece of string?

There is no doubt that we urgently need inspired and visionary leadership especially during this period of turbulence, to mitigate the impact of the approaching storm. That is the caustic truth. That is striking the nail squarely on its head. It needs to be expressly stated by those who care, if those who should know refuse to open their eyes to the truth.

But you know what I think, all of a sudden the elite are scared. The centre of the illusion that has been on the screen for so long, it appears, can no longer hold. (To be continued)

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