Tomorrow starts today.
January 9, 2018 By: Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon
I was initially sceptical about wishing you a happy new year, but then within a fleeting moment it occurred to me that with elections just a little over two months away, there is indeed no better time to hope for a new beginning.
Indeed our tomorrow starts from today. We are at the all-or-nothing zone.
Today and indeed this New Year, gives us an opportunity to take the first steps towards creating a new Sierra Leone and reverse the rot and rut that we have pretended wasn’t our lot for so long and which have been exploited by all our leaders across the strata to rob us of political, social and economic justice.
Anything is possible if we want it enough and are prepared to work hard enough to achieve it. And therein lies the conundrum because only those who want it badly are using their wits in the glaring opportunism of our ineffective and unaccountable institutions and political systems.
Some people like to believe change is some kind of choice or preference. It is not. It is the logical pathway, given where we’ve been and where we are. Democracy does not mean everything has to be right by polling. The truth needs neither votes nor sponsors or supporters.
Outside the power of social media, also known as mass emotional thinking and sentimental brainwashing, I know for sure that the express bus to incremental has long gone and what we are left with is the slow coach. Fair enough.
But as we draw near to D-Day, I am troubled by the inescapable fact that our political leaders are still not able to rise above sheer grandstanding and crude craftiness in the business of governance and polity. What you see is sheer rabble rousing and a massive picture of repulsive revelations, mindboggling malfeasance and an era of political cross carpeting driven by selfish intent to rub feet in better butter.
In that regard, the shrill self-certainty and their drama of sharp choices, indicate that nothing has changed in our stark politics of right and wrong. Yet, if you wish to do something tomorrow, then you have to start it today. Today is the senior sister of tomorrow. If there was no yesterday, there can be no today. Consequently, there can be no tomorrow without today.
It is true that the extrication of Sierra Leone from the grips of our state of flux and epitome of deception would always be structurally and intrinsically nightmarish. However, the robustness of the rhetoric of change, without corresponding and reinvigorating institutional and socio-political transformation, envelopes our true vision of a different mindset, with all the joy of a shotgun wedding.
Our politics is becoming scrappier by the day with more and more people who morally preen, when the world is watching and then sneak out of their garb, when it has turned away. Our orientation, our mindset, our value-system, our socio-cultural ethics, the indefensible vote-buying gestures that will only add to the unfairness of the political landscape, are deeply anti-progressive and raise the stakes even higher in this point of no return for a troubled nation.
So the first step in creating a country of our dreams is to decide to tell the truth to ourselves, do what we perceive is right and desist from the blind, uncritical and self-serving support of those who aspire to lead us. Only the deep can call out to the deep.
The question is: have we learnt anything from our past to help us move forward? Having realised that progress might have been achieved if we had always tried first to remove the mote in our eyes, are we ready to truly break the yoke and banish our disastrous historical past, which have been helped by deep myopia that is induced by tribalism and corruption?
The answer I’m sure, lurks in the innards of what passes for governance in our country. If you don’t love yourself, how dare you ask me why I don’t love you?
The most painful part of the lunacy we like to pretend is some kind of normalcy, is our inability up till now, to fashion out a destination; never mind working on the journey of a new beginning. It is what has encouraged the culture of corruption, impunity, nepotism, intolerance and sectional dominance.
The free for all existence of the past, has turned our national institutions into a looting caravan and affected our psyche to the point of relaxing our individual convictions about truth; what is right or wrong and what values and standards ought to guard our very societal existence.
The fundamental solution is well known, but certain political tendencies that owe their whole essence to the retention of the status quo, where it appears that the same players or teams are simply changing jerseys as on a football pitch, are mortally resistant to that solution and do not add to the quality of our play.
We would rather celebrate mediocrity and idiocy through sheer pretence, choosing instead not to see the larger picture of a community’s raison d’etre and instead display a mentality that has prevented us from the simple task of thinking about what truly should be our lot, after so many false dawns and the hues and cries for justice.
Our potential leaders are hardly purged of our very deficiencies which is why they will rather stoke the current fire of our warped system than does not fight for the entrenchment of a very firm foundation. It is often their very most virulent disposition to be at the forefront of a new society so that they can say that they have been all alone in this struggle.
They recognise the sycophants among us and play on their unintelligence; helped by a rather partisan and seemingly unprincipled fourth estate of the realm, which succinctly represent the epitome of our deception and the deep poverty of our national soul as well as that of the generality of the people.
Undoubtedly, public discourse, at least in the last eighteen months, has been largely dominated by the idea of change whose call has reverberated with striking and alarming persistence. It chimes with the public perception of fairness and a better society.
It’s now a polarizing national discourse, with strong sentiments and energy that should be focused on the more productive matter of which of the four main presidential flag bearers, best exemplify our collective desire and has the capacity to stay the course amidst the intricate socio-political and ethnic web of our society.
Is it Samura Kamara, with all the fizz of a flat Coca-Cola drink and in all his grim glory under the ‘halo’ of a discredited EBK, or Kandeh Yumkella, with all the grandeur and sublime pose of a master blaster?
What are the qualities of a Maada Bio, whose extra political manoeuvrings sent KKY scurrying into the hurriedly-made bed of a more attractive bride, and who looks and talks like a man who’s up for anything and does not mind leaving a trail of devastation as long as his ego can relentlessly portray his supposedly undervalued brilliance in the bid to retrieve what he left in state house?
And then Sam Sumana, the erstwhile beautiful ‘wife’; scorned by the maverick and rapacious EBK and who continues to pine in space while preening and posing his way through an elaborate charm offensive of redemption and ensuring a laundered image from the madness of an administration that he was once a part and parcel.
The question then arises that, in our proposed socio-political re-engineering, what have we done in terms of a collective public statement on what we want our standards to be; in terms of how we want to be governed and how to set Sierra Leone on a new path? Who best meets the qualities to chart that course?
We should not forget that any change should be planned and deliberate since a system at breaking point will break. Period. To thrive therefore, requires the suspension of the attributes we are trying to affix. The solution by definition and problem-nature, can only be radical.
We are where we are because we sacrificed memory on the altar of primordial sentiments and failed to press our immediate past experience into the service of our collective interests. Without a true societal reform, we’ll find out that we are simply building a bonfire that has fireworks on the top and just smoulders at the bottom.
The problem is within… We are our own problems…. religion, supposed to get us closer to God, is making us far away from him; education, supposed to help us to be better is getting worse daily, while democracy, regarded as the best form of government, has proven otherwise in our own clime as we keep playing make believe.
Though the four principal contestants for the highest post in the land pretend that their fealty is not to a political tribe but to the values of a fairer society, it is clear that not everyone can see what ought to be smacking them in the face. Which is why platitudes and verbal coercion now pass for intellectual discourse and individual survival, trumps societal future.
If our political leaders are so shallow, immoral and incapable, why should we expect our society to be any different, especially since most of those surrounding them are sheer looting predators in the same corruption/corrosion cesspool?
Scan through the mass of the vociferous cheer-leaders and you’ll discover at the top echelon, resides the best hustlers in their specialties; not the best performers and definitely not the most capable. And we keep expecting the best from our worst. May be we are the crazy ones.
The greatest tragedy of this period of social transition, will not be the strident clamour of the bad people, but appalling silence of the good ones. You can’t plant anything when the milieu or nursery bed is one of maggots and white ashes. The people need to know this and it is the duty of those who know to help those who do not, to understand.
Since this is a brand new year, I shall continue in subsequent write-ups to stress why we need to clean out the skeletons of our cupboard, for a breath of fresh air.
The only reason why rascals and saboteurs have succeeded in ruining our country is because we have been criminally silent and ideologically and ethnically complicit and defensive of the interests of those who go on to rape us and ride roughshod over our common interests.
Is this really what we want in 2018 and going forward?