Just coming off the phone with someone who in all circumstances one must never hold an argument over politics. The heated exchange and the vitriol in her voice demonstrated the esteem which supporters of the Paopa doctrine hold for their leader. Her sentiments evoke a belief that Julius Maada Bio was destined to hold the position of President at this time after nearly twenty years of unemployment and a varying career in education that was left half-cocked in the pursuit of political power. While no arguments would be sustainably launched against such assertions, it is worth noting that with him came the hubris of a post-revolutionary peace studies professor, guised in the sheepskin of civility and academia but one who has thus far proved to be so egregious and unfazed by tact or savvy.
Together, a rule of fear and intimidation has now been unleashed on an unsuspecting public and in the sentiments of Machiavelli in his tome “the Prince,” who advised as I paraphrase here in one of his ‘discourses’ that to take over a principality one must look to its people to see if they have been corrupt. So indeed, the rallying call for this dispensation was to uproot the corruption that had existed during the tenure of its predecessor.
Not that anyone would contest a fight against corruption for fear that an allegation of complicity would be very hard to fight off in the midst of a crowd baying for blood on account of their personal circumstances which when put together tells a story of want and poverty. So the narrative that it would serve the country well to go after corrupt politicians sounded like sweet music to a sentiment geared up for retribution and vilification. However, having made corruption their starting point, it is unsurprising that the task force that built itself up as a foundation of the fight against corruption itself had to implement wholly corrupt practices to establish its own legitimacy. Corruption begets corruption and again, to paraphrase Machiavelli, ‘ power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.’
Incidentally, a friend who has just returned from Freetown was sharing his experiences about how people now wait for someone to be late for work, only for a phone call to come from State House confirm his or her dismissal and the person who made the report then instructed to take over the position. So now, the practice is to lay siege in offices to watch for who comes in late for work so that someone else would take over their offices on account of their lateness. My friend also informs me about the spate of poverty and imbalanced living in the city. One set living in pure lavishness while most people languish in poverty with high food prices and lost jobs and employment. In one Department, where I am owed some few Leones after having completed a contract but yet to be paid, a former employee explained that all of the staff that were of Northern and Western origin have been laid off. They were given a three month’s leave and by the end of that period, they received sack letters before they could get back to work.
Sometimes, when one is detached from the situation, most of what you see or hear would only be fluff and not substantive truths. My humble opinion for a while has been that Sierra Leone has moved from a forward looking trajectory for growth to a downslide of nepotism and intimidation. The environment is now too hostile for decent living and as another friend posted on a Whatsapp group this morning, he informed the group that he had to make the decision to go back to the US because his wife told him that if he stays in Freetown and his money that he has saved up finishes, then he will know the true face of his own friends let alone enemies. The situation that some people no longer feel safe or confident to stay in the country is one of the worst things that any government would do to its people.
Some of us are lucky to have had a life before going back to Sierra Leone to help in the effort at raising standards, others do not and it is for those less privileged or opportune that the fight must be put up to stave off another calamity in that country. For those with a voice, we must make that call, sing that song and blow the whistle that calls to attention that truth must be told to power. Sierra Leone cannot be administered so that one tribe, one region, one people only benefit. It has to be for the good of all. It should not matter really who holds Presidential power in the country because Presidential power is merely an issue of governance but trade, commerce, leisure and social interaction must go on.
Someone referred to the spat between the Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development and the Mayor of Freetown as a behaviour unbecoming and in fact blamed the Mayor for getting engaged in such a public exchange. The sentiments espoused was that no true Creole would allow themselves to be caught up in such lowly based arguments over money. To say the truth, it is lamentable because it has been sentiments and reasoning of such ignorance that have caused the disengagement of the Creoles from mainstream politics and on that, the country has gone to the dogs so easily. The Creoles who had such high moral standing and such huge respect for civility failed to fight their corner and hold on to a sense of nationalism that would have integrated their heirs more firmly in Sierra Leonean life. They miscalculated in allowing the White man to divide them and make them separate from the indigenous peoples, always hanging on to the false truth that as a last resort, if they cannot survive Sierra Leone, they would go back to whence they came from slavery. That never happened and now that the Creoles are willing to make a stand for their inheritance of Freetown, they are under such grave challenge. Sierra Leone has lost a major chance of togetherness by such divisiveness and for that reason, the quarrels about who should be responsible for cleaning the gutters of Freetown will persist for a long time to come.
After dispensing with the argument over the phone, the realization quickly came to light that the protagonist was not concerned about the dangers or ills of inept action or an atmosphere of impunity that now pervades Sierra Leonean society, but was moved by the scenic view of a government made up in the same kith as her own. This was a tribal thing all along. When the argument turned to the prospect that a Creole in power would not have done the acts that this government made up of predominantly Mende people are doing, a tribe to which she belonged, her immediate response was that “ forget it, a Creole will never be President in Sierra Leone.” For me, that was game over!