The one painful conclusion that came to mind during my recent visit to Sierra Leone was that the original model is beyond broken, it is shattered.
Today, we are a swelling disaster of disorder, mismanagement and corruption; impunity and hopelessness; greed and poverty; selfishness and dysfunction. Our streets are choked with a people who have no clues to our challenges; as well as those who see the current crop of those in power as making past leaders look like papal altar boys.
Our problems are deeper than we think and to get out of our present predicament, Sierra Leoneans must ‘put their mouth where their money is’ because only unconventional solutions or the introduction of extra-model variables can reset the constituent aspects that we have bastardised and ruined beyond recognition.
It seems we have been held captive for so long, that Stockholm syndrome has set in. There is a semblance of unity for ethno-religious and political bias, which pushes us to protect the guilty. How could our once glorious nation have missed the moral compass so terribly?
Even though we are aware that a leash does not look good on a chicken, we look at the immoral and senseless infection that has paralysed our nation and which at the moment is confusing but at best perplexing and yet look the other way. My prayer is that our collective suffering should begin to spur us to a greater sense of true nationhood so that Sierra Leone can rise again.
If not, we will be lucky to escape either a popular uprising leading to, or a direct action of indignation, manifested in, a very, very bloody uprising. The clock does not stop ticking; neither would the evolution of the people within the nation. We need to realise that we have to put a permanent halt to the parochial approach to the crippling of the next generation and indeed, the very future of our beloved Sierra Leone. We need to collectively have the courage and conviction to right so many of the ills of the past.
Our future depends on it. In other words, the time has come for us to do away with what is abhorrent and which makes a farce of any iota of collective morality we have as a people and a nation.
The future, Our future, will have to be built from scratch, it will not just happen, at least not to our satisfaction if we remain as bystanders or onlookers, much in the same way that our lives so far was not constructed by someone else, let alone our colonial masters or the locusts that have ravaged our commonwealth, alone.
I realised that for a very long time now and even under the current dispensation, we have continued to run our nation on fraud and deception. I could see and feel the pains of the nation; the tension brought about by the robotic existence of majority of the people and which our leaders have described as progress.
Despite the fact that there is suffering to alleviate, trauma to soothe, normality to restore to a battered and bruised economic and social fabric of our society, majority of the people have chosen or brainwashed into denying the obvious and pretending that all was well or would soon be fine.
As the core victims of our past recklessness and deceit, regaled me with their woes and even erstwhile, aloof and wealthy-individuals vented their frustration at the state of affairs, I realised that a lot of mess was made either out of omission or commission and that true change will take a while, and only if and when we are ready to gird our loins.
I could feel in the narration of many, the pain and agony they are going through and I sensed the collective hurt while many, tried to rationalise why we are where we are. Nevertheless, the pain and suffering of the masses right now is best described as insurmountable. Only a selfish and inconsiderate person would not see and acknowledge this fact.
Yet, just like now, all the socio-economic and political problems we have today were created in the recess of our yesterday when we connived with our political leaders to short-change this very future that we are now craving.
So, it’s not just our leaders that are guilty, we all are. The question is: When will our indignation for the present, come to the fore, if ever? Like it or not, it has become imperative that we craft a different future from the one that the ill-fortunes of our history have laid out.
The reckless spending of public funds, the ostentatious lifestyle of our leaders, the abuse of power, perversion of justice and culture of impunity; as well as ethno-religious favouritism and nepotism, misery and squalor, which have stunted our growth and turned us to a beggar-nation, despite our abundance of resources, are all pathways that need to be cleared.
This is my thinking and I hope some people will reason with me. Those who don’t, have a right not to be swayed just as my musing is my right. I am not exonerating any segment of our society from blame, but laying the facts as they appear to me. While you have the right to be angry, please be angry with sense. For once, leave the realm of fantasy and let’s speak truth to power.
This is not about going to Freetown with bags of dollars and pounds sterling and being able to have a swell of a time, believing that all is well. Neither is it about looking at the construction works all over town, or the roads in progress and believing that we are achieving growth and on our way to the premier league of countries.
What is even more ethically repugnant is that some enlightened Sierra Leoneans from the safety of their palatial kingdoms at home and abroad, built from the sweat and labour; tears and blood; present and future of the majority, make ‘logical’ excuses to support known and accused looters of our commonwealth.
In a nutshell, the current chest-thumping claim about positive attitudinal modifications resulting from the rebranding of our country in the eyes of the world, is fiction, not fact. Go see for yourself.
The idea that growth, development and prosperity can, or indeed ought to be separated from the entrenched values found in other saner climes, or that our brand of politics is the best for peaceful and progressive intent, is ultimately delusional.
Fact is, without going back to the basics, no structure that will truly lift us out of the present abyss can be built; whether it’s in the socio-economic realm or even in governance. Not even the second stage re-colonisation that our leaders seem hell-bent in taking us into.
If we don’t get it right today, given our fragile socio-economic configuration, the long term effect will be so ferocious that it will consume the nation and leave us even worse than what we are currently experiencing. The social fabric of our nation will further be eroded. The gulf in social strata wider.
While some of us who want true change in the course of our daily existence are patient, with the absolute belief that it will definitely come sooner than later, the majority are tired of the hardship.
Oh how I wish I could provide an answer for the nation’s ailing health or, wish that we could come together as citizens and find a solution to this puzzling illness which has seen us taking Gammalin 20 to treat dysentery.
As I watched the sham in parliament, described as the screening of nominees for exalted positions, the situation pointed to the sad reality that we are in a serious one chance saloon. One chance with no door. This democracy will be the death of our land and us. Seriously.
It is not enough to have a legislature, it has to be peopled by proven, knowledgeable and capable patriotic hands with unimpeachable integrity. What we have are hustlers masquerading as legislathieves.
With every desecration of the hallowed chamber and the Muppet show that went on, it immediately became crystal clear why we are where we are today. Why there is such an enveloping poverty in our land. Why our democracy is a charade.
A cabal of interlopers, reading from a mangled script left behind by Siaka Stevens, who laid the foundation of our present disaster, is gripping Sierra Leone by the throat and ready to squeeze the life out of us, without caring a hoot.
These agents for the maintenance of the status quo, who want to keep the country as the conquered territory to be pillaged and milked with reckless abandon, are at logger heads with those who want a semblance of the original Sierra Leone that they knew; or the type of country that exists in saner environment.
The primitive accumulation of public funds by the animals in human skin, whose sole focus is the promotion of stomach infrastructure instead of good governance, boils down to a loss of values and a convoluted sense of what is important in life; especially in the service of the people.
Remember Siaka Stevens’ stubbornness in hosting the OAU? It signalled the start of our economic descent. Then think of Mamamah airport at whooping cost of over $400million described as plainly a vanity project by various international bodies but which our government appears to be bullishly committed for whatever reason and at the expense of the acute poverty that ravages the land.
Gambia’s economy depends on tourism and foreigners troop there regularly. Yet, the modernised Lungi airport is slightly bigger and the country whose leader is said to be an eccentric and who has done much to transform his country, has not gone down the road of such waste.
Just imagine – if a quarter of the cost of the proposed airport is pumped into the health sector; another quarter into education; a third quarter into agriculture and the remaining hundred million dollars into solving the dilemma of our huge youth unemployment? Just imagine what transformation will occur in Sierra Leone. What foundation will be laid for a better future?
The impact of all our resources, including the foreign wads of money, can only be measured by the effect on the lives of the people. We miss the point when we treat every suggestion against a government policy and even mild criticism against its actions as anti-government. If we want the government to succeed, we must not build a cult of self-praise around its leaders and treat all critics as saboteurs who must be run out of town.
To those whose only interest is the sign of dollars in their accounts, I ask: where are the rich of yesteryears? The looters of the past? Consigned to the dustbin of history. Individually, we remember each one of them for who they really are. Likewise we will classify the present crop, when they eventually leave this world or the safety of power.
Sierra Leone has been forced into a proxy war between truth and falsehood, a war between darkness and light, the war between reason and unreason, and war between the brains and the brainless. This is what I see as dragging us into a one chance bus.
This is the time for collective responsibility and concrete action. Let us fire on all cylinders to reclaim our nation for the majority and not the minority. This will take massive adjustments and contributions on our part, without a doubt. Actually we will be living a new script, and not the old familiar one we are accustomed to.
Nevertheless, this does not mean we should jump from fry pan to fire. We need in these times to be cautious about the help we get. That’s my take. Change will come but prosperity will not come overnight as we are being led to believe. Which is why I am deeply worried about the Greek gift from China and some other foreign rascals that have and are swarming over the left-over of our resources.
Without wanting to sound like a wailer, the dice they often throw in the game of survival that we have embarked, is often too heavily loaded in their favour. Their loans tie us to buy from them at rates and terms determined by them and for substandard goods, services and technology as well as contracts that are skewed. Where are the mining companies that we welcomed with red carpets?
I believe if we concentrate on blocking areas of leakages in our economy and stop those we have entrusted with the steering of our national ship from driving us into the iceberg and dipping their hands in the till, we should be able to overcome our current economic travails. Many Sierra Leoneans are suffering now, because of impunity in our institutions and leadership.
It is from amongst us that those corrupt individuals laughing all the way to the bank get willing conduits for the nefarious activities which allows them to live like gods amidst the excruciating poverty of the masses. It is us that hail them for even what is obviously foolhardy.
You may disagree all you like with my position, you may even not believe there is a law of gravity, but please step out of second floor and not expect to fall. The question is: When will our indignation come to the fore, if ever?
You know something? A child that says his mother is ugly is indirectly saying his father suffers from partial blindness. We definitely need a moral reset. Let the change begin with us as individuals now. Let us stop sitting quietly, scrambling for crumbs described as dividends of democracy by our leaders in their guise to keep us in perpetual servitude.
It is our right to demand that even the most basic systems and controls over the management of our resources, which are in dire need of strengthening must take place along with the fundamentals in any democratic settings to balance deliveries of dividends of democracy across the nation.
No doubt, Sierra Leoneans need to reclaim the nation back from the mindless lot invested with power and their cronies. We need to take control of our future, collectively. We need to show more interest in the future of our country without fear or favour.