When the Wood is so Dense, the Rotten Trees Get Hidden

I don’t know why but I have a sickening feeling that we are heading for a political crisis ahead of next year’s election. I pray it is not so but the political scene is eerily too muddled up and quiet for my likening and with less than eight months to go and an incumbent not ‘expected’ to remain in post, the serene atmosphere even in the ruling party is rather discomforting.

Anyway, that was just a thought.

As more and more political scheming and tacticians emerge for the race to state house, a modified version of Romans 16:18 might therefore read something like this: – “For they that are such, serve not the people of Sierra Leone, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches, deceive the hearts of the simple”. You’ll see why later in this piece.

I find it disconcerting that at the end of another ten year period, in which an all-powerful ‘grass-cutter’ and numerous ‘rodents’ have trampled all ethical standards and shown no sign of reasonable political behaviour that the country solely needs from them, we are simply getting ready to return to the caravan park-of-disappointment.

But then, I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that there is a fundamental character defect in the average Sierra Leonean. Opportunity and environment causes it to manifest.

Less than 0.001% has dealt with that defect. They are the ones that often stand out in our moral morass. However, that 0.001% minuscule number (wondering where they can be found?) is the very reason that our change will have to come, inspite of us and not by our power. A sad; and still saddening truth.

Agreed that there is hardly anyone, who has not been tainted by our societal morass. The issue is a matter of degree. For those of us with less than 30% of the plague, we should come together and raise up a standard against the continual decline and descent of our society into the abyss of decay.

The fundamental questions that surround the basis of the current struggle for a more inclusive society and a governance that is fit for purpose, which began with the ten year imbroglio of the ‘90’s, are yet to be answered. And these issues are majorly the challenges facing the nation today.

Yet, that is not the implicit narratives of most of those who aspire to the post of leaders and who, it is increasingly obvious, do not know what it is to know, about being under water and knowing how to swim. All they look forward to is the chequered flag, for their coronation.

We, as a system, have gone critical and have activated a self-adaptive structure in which no deliberate control is possible any more, no matter how it looks to the loyal pair of eyes; except there is a tide to force us out of our comfort zones. Now appears such a time.

Clearly, one of the missing links is the need to adopt and engrain the principles and values of fairness, order, and respect for our collectivity. Right now, there is too much deception and political distractions, designed solely for the benefits of those who make it impossible for the citizens, to decipher the truth about virtually everything, thereby complicating very simple issues.

I am aware that when an issue doesn’t align with some people’s thinking they label it a complaint or dismiss it as nothing new. But to me, stating the problem starkly and repeatedly is not complaining. It is simply the freedom that comes from not wanting crumbs from the table of those who have cornered the commonwealth of our nation. That grates the minds, to no end.

Do we wish ourselves well, when a handful commandeer the resources meant for all, only to sink them into idle concrete blocks and fast obsolescing material-goods as well as their personal closets, while leaving our people unable to confront the challenges of our times?

Isn’t it about time we stop playing the victim and take our destiny in our own hands? Isn’t it enough of self-victimisation which is the worst form of psychological ailment.

YES. Sierra Leone is a great country been raped by a few. Unfortunately in dealing with the rapists you must agree that such conversations that border on disparaging the country becomes very necessary, if not almost late too. We should never have stopped talking from when the slide from our enviable height began in the 1980’s. We did.

Fair enough. On my part, talking now is not out of any altruism, it is out of selfishness to see whatever is left of mine and that of future generations, thrive in a truly great Sierra Leone. This is why I am sure that when the masses come to realise fully, that all they are doing is worshipping their oppressors, their music will change to that of freedom-for-the-people.

Already, the dwindling popularity of most of the old brigades on the political landscape and the cynicism towards those who seem to have attained ‘political almightiness’ and cotton-tree image all of a sudden,  is a reflection of the quality of leaders that our system keeps producing.

Sierra Leone – once a veritable treasure trove of childhood memories, has obviously been turned into a marshy political eyesore and a looters’ enclave. It is fast becoming a parody of a country where loyalty has overtaken objectivity in a sign of perpetual mediocrity.

Laughable; if not that the lives of millions are being toyed with willy-nilly by an indolent political class. Our reality has collapsed into banal theatre. How sad, because that’s not the Sierra Leone that nurtured and nourished me. That’s not the Sierra Leone of our dreams.               

I am proudly Sierra Leonean despite its imperfections. I will not give up on my country. We all owe the future generations that much. We failed and where possible we should try to make amends by holding to account, those whose sole aim is power and the attendant greed.

I don’t believe in deriding my country because I love it beyond recall and that is why I believe in calling a spade a spade. We have been playing the ostrich for too long. That is why we see evil and keep quiet. Deride the country NO, I deride those whose actions and inactions, including those of us that kept quiet, while the madness lasts.

Now, put aside for a moment, the merits and demerits of our development indices in the last decade simply because when the macro is flawed, analysing the micro is a waste of energy and grey matter. Deep resistance to the unpalatable is a deeply human attribute.

Our corrupt governance means we are not able to deploy our high population of brain boxes optimally in meeting the challenges of our times; something man has generally done well.

We don’t have many achievers to knock, because many have already fled and the majority of those left behind have been humiliated and impoverished into a combo of helplessness and obscurity, leaving only the “adapted”, who by definition, will tell the hustlers what they want to hear. Sad.

Even the masses, who don’t seem to know what is at stake anymore, are further befuddled by the emerging narratives of our political combo theatre of the absurd in the name of governance.

Therefore, unless the failed ideologies of existing parties and most of the current political elites are masterfully and forensically demolished, what looks like an arcane move by some of the gladiators, as the current national leadership strives to cling on to the pantomime of the last ten years, will turn out to be nothing but a struggle for the very soul of the nation. Hopefully, that is ephemeral.

My sincere prayer is that in the blind determination to be rid of the current crop of political locusts on the landscape, we don’t correct a wrong with a wrong. But, we are the ones that can, and should, begin to effect corrective measures to save our society. We have to sift the wheat from the chaff, going forward.

Change is not easy, and admittedly, for years, people had given up hope and dared only to dream of a major roll of the dice, one fine day. But we brought ourselves here and trust me; the solution has to be, in spite of us.

Meanwhile, while we are all being distracted by out-of-depth politicians, using the oldest trick to distort our perception because of our weak institutions and decadent populace, the avarice- muddled political class, plots its way into power, in a musical chair version of inter-house sports. APC today; SLPP tomorrow. Who gets to sit first, whether by pushing, shoving or otherwise.

The bane of our democracy and indeed, governance, which unfortunately does not need a consensus, is that we have specialised in building dysfunction into our system. This is simply because of our penchant and motive of gaming every opportunity for personal, ethnic, religious or financial gains and conveniently ignoring the contexts and mechanics of the very best practices, that have made saner nations the very envy that draws us to them.

Those whom we choose to lead, play on this and often like to claim that they want to adapt our society to such enviable heights. Most often, they end up becoming the very architects of the misfortune that befall us.

Again, this is because we have collectively lost our morals to lucre and a scattered gun approach to our development; which of course, is the ultimate self-destruction. Money has systematically destroyed every node of what makes us a system and is eminently now, a ONE-STORY narrative of the word – corruption, which is an all-encompassing concept.

So, as I discussed the palpably visible, frenzied, open and latent political machinations to wrest power from the ruling party and/or also prevent the ailing opposition SLPP from taking power, I could not but wonder if amidst the cacophony of voices and a mad dash to the new vogue of coalition, we have a sequential thought process; or vision of what the aspirants for next year’s presidency, actually represent in our political history; or what they are actually capable of doing.

I wonder how many of us have noticed that there are glaring irregularities in the electoral process towards next year. Yet not one of the elites in all the main parties who have surely become turkeys voting for Christmas, are fighting tooth and nail for the entrenchment of the salient and sacrosanct parts of the law guiding the polls.

Why should they? All they want is the power. Their focus is somewhere else and they too look forward to using the same defects in the system to their advantage, when they assume power.

Most of them have held various political positions. What did they do while in offices to make the change we now crave? What did they do to stem the slide while they held offices? Why didn’t they speak up then? Most of them have of course told their children never to return to Sierra Leone as if they were not part of the group that destroyed the economy and socio-political fabric of the nation.

Kandeh Yumkella, a product of an international laboratory – a distillation of ideology rather than a well-rounded politician familiar with our political realities, has suspended his bid for the leadership of the country under the banner of the SLPP and is seeking alternative platform for his ambition, for the sake of Sierra Leone. He had been initially seen as a god-send for bored hacks who have wandered in the miserably barren wilderness of our near comatose political terrain for a saviour, until some of his naivety exposed him.

Sam Sumana with his sanctimonious posturing, is risking everything, including arrest and is back in the political frame, to ensure that Sierra Leone is rid of the current decadent clique; of which he was once an integral part, for the sake of the masses of our land.

Ernest Koroma, for the fear of irrelevance and infamy, refuses to leave the stage and is determined to manipulate the entire political system, including his party’s constitution, for the sake of Sierra Leone which can never ‘survive’, without him.

Maada Bio is already desperately brow-beating anything and anyone on his path for the ultimate prize in his party and of course, for the sake of Sierra Leone. I am not quite sure if the generality of the people and even those in his own party will ever warm to him. His demeanour which smirks of arrogance is also not doing him any favours, either. Not to forget the extra-judicial killings which stands as an albatross round his neck?

Alie Kabbah, is yet to clarify his complicity or otherwise in the Foday Sankoh insurgence. The jury is still out for him also; especially since he was thrust into national consciousness by the bigamy brouhaha as he appears to be a secret weapon of fifth columnists. The paradox is that the source of his sudden popularity is also his predicament.

Alpha Kanu of ‘Abuja Hajj fame’ and a controversial figure that reeks of all that is corrupt in our system, John Sesay, alleged to have presided over the final handover of the national mining heirloom and a willing tool in the hands of Koroma; Mohamed Kamarainba Mansaray; seen as a spoilsport seeking for a share of the spoils rather than a minesweeper and all the others seeking the prized bull, are doing so for the sake of the same Sierra Leone that has been brutalised, bastardised and sodomised by either their direct or indirect actions as well as a political system that is screwed up.

It further endorses the scale of how our leaders, knowing that we are a people who do not seem appalled by their actions and who forget easily, have taken advantage of our credulity and cynicism and have taken wholesale violations of the norms and traditions of our political system to manipulate our emotions and expose our shallowness.

Everyone’s recourse to seeking power for the sake of the nation, with no visible, credible and sustainable antecedents, goes to confirm that protracted residency in the “Hustlers’ Paradise” has the tendency to erode every semblance of morality and normalcy.

Oh the sweet aroma of power. But what does that say of some of those potential leaders and their desperation to catch the ultimate crab?Whatever it is, some of them are still an embodiment of the big-tent social democratic aspirations and politics already on offer.

They are simply playing to the base graft of our antiquated politics, in the hope that we will somehow miss the flight with our seeming lackadaisical attitude. Which is why, performance or potential is not based on a point in time; but is a continuous lifelong assessment of not just how well you did in the last opportunistic post you chanced on or the vuvuzela of how good you are.

It’s no use having the finest suit, the cutest cuts or the finest principles that tantalise (remember Ernest Koroma and his agenda for change) or sitting in an ivory tower of integrity, untainted by the shabby compromises of real politics, if deep down, all you can offer for our solution, is what focus groups and hardened politicians of AGIP (any government in power), might tell you to think or say.

The heroes of today and tomorrow that we need are those who will be quick thinking and clever-acting leaders. Those, who are able to anticipate and respond to challenges. Leaders who in turn, create fluid organisational or institutional structures that encourage robust interactions, swift decision-making and incisive problem-solving; based on our realities and not some foreign-induced recipes.

Many of those on the march towards next year’s poll are simply playing the corruption game in a very unique and admittedly effective way, and nothing else. Some have innovatively schemed themselves into reckoning because of our lack of a mind-map software that will chart the various branches, emanating from socio-political corruption, of which looting is only the most enviable node.

I intend to continue this but right now the wood is so dense and the rotten ones are planted among the timber and calibre.

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