By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop)
Those who are au fait with Greek Mythology, surely, might have chanced upon the River Lethe, which is also known as the “Ameles potamos”. That, when translated into the English Language, means the “River of Unmindfulness”. And the legend goes that, “all those who drank from [the River Lethe] experienced complete forgetfulness.” According to that myth, “Lethe was also the name of the Greek spirit of forgetfulness and oblivion, with whom the river was often identified…”
And in “Orphism, a Greek mystical religious movement, it was believed that the newly dead who drank from the River Lethe would lose all memory of their past existence. The initiated were taught to seek instead the river of memory, Mnemosyne, thus securing the end of the transmigration of the soul….”
I know I have already whetted your appetite, dear reader. But in today’s One Dropian dropping, I’m not going to write about the mythological “cave of Hypnos” in the Greek Underworld through which the River Lethe coursed. I will be presenting a hypothesis which might infer that President Julius Maada Bio appears not to be drinking water from GUMA Valley pipes or bottled water from Grafton, but that he might be drinking water sourced from the River Lethe.
If one should do content analyses of President Bio’s speeches, one might notice the inconsistencies from one speech to the other. When the surface is scratched, in each and every speech, one may also realise that the Sierra Leonean Commander-in-Chief appears to be always speaking only from his mouth not from his heart! And that it would be safe to suggest that the Fountain of Honour seems to believe in the disreputable mantra of “do as I say not as I do”!
Now, I will proffer my supposition. From President Bio’s maiden speech on “the Occasion of the State Opening of the First Session of the Fifth Parliament of the Second Republic of Sierra Leone” on Thursday 10 May 2018; to that of 27 April 2019 on the occasion of the country’s 58th Independence Anniversary; to the now infamous speech of 8 May 2020 unto the Thursday 28 May 2020 speech “on the Occasion of the State Opening of the Third Session of the Fifth Parliament of the Second Republic of Sierra Leone”; one sees the thread of inconsistencies running through them.
In his maiden speech to parliament on Thursday 10 May 2018, President Bio told the nation that, “In the last ten years, the building blocks of national cohesion and the feeling of belonging of all citizens have gravely crumbled. The recent governance strategy has been characterised by tribalism, divisiveness, exclusion and the weakening and subversion of state governing institutions…” But since the day when those observations were made, to the time of writing this One Dropian dropping, the situation in Sierra Leone is three times as despicable as it was three years ago. President Bio seems to have forgotten that he promised to right those supposedly perceived wrongs that allegedly occurred “in the last ten years.” Probably, he might have drunk from the River Lethe which is why he appears not to remember what he had promised majority of the people of Sierra Leone.
In his 27 April 2019 speech to mark Sierra Leone’s 58th Independence Anniversary, President Bio noted that, “Lawlessness, nepotism, discrimination, greed, crass opulence, mismanagement, and bad governance at all levels have not made our country a land worth living in….” He continued that, “Our disregard for our traditional values of deep faith and religiosity, respect, tolerance, justice, good neighbourliness and peaceful coexistence has not always made our country a land worth living in”. Well, if crocodile comes out of the river and tells you that alligator is sick, who are you to deny, to quote the Nigerian celebrated writer Chinua Achebe. I always like home truths coming from home boys (sorry, men!). Now my questions are: Has President Bio made genuine efforts to curb, or even minimize, lawlessness, nepotism, discrimination, greed, crass opulence, mismanagement, and bad governance at all levels in present day Sierra Leone? Has the Bio-led SLPP government been showing respect and tolerance to supporters of the All People’s Congress (APC) or did they allow justice to be meted out to opposition Members of Parliament who lost their seats through judicial sleights of hand? Is the SLPP’s “New Direction” steering the country through the still waters (as in Psalm 23) inherited from the APC? Or is the SLPP government taking Sierra Leone through deep waters (as in Isaiah 43:2) because of its seemingly policy of creating chasms amongst Sierra Leoneans which appears to be shattering, or has already shattered, good neighbourliness and peaceful coexistence between North-Westerners and South-Easterners?
But in his now infamous speech of 8 May 2020, our Commander-in-Chief seems to have gone back to his soldierly days: “…In conclusion, let me re-state that any act of violence will be dealt with within the broad spectrum of the law. Citizens have an obligation to obey law and order. Those who… [are] fomenting trouble and inciting violence in this country…[should] know now that [they] will lose this fight…” But Abu Abu Koroma, the Resident Minister North, has shown that President Bio might have been blowing hot and cold because he defied the President’s soldierly posture and has now gone scot-free!
Even before President Bio’s threat of dealing soldierly with members of the opposition who are purportedly “fomenting trouble and inciting violence in [Sierra Leone]” could dissipate; Abu Abu Koroma tested the President’s sincerity by allegedly threatening to kill or maim his own northern brethren if they should stand in the Commander-in-Chief’s way. The only reprimand he got for reminding North-Western Sierra Leoneans of the Rebel War years was a temporary suspension. Even the Press Release from State House, announcing the Resident Minister North’s “indefinite suspension”, cloudily presented Abu Abu Koroma as an uncouth hawk.
But the reinstatement of Abu Abu Koroma appears to have shown President Bio’s Jekyll and Hyde persona. With such overt Boko Haram-ish utterances coming from a high-profile government functionary, which appeared to be aimed at “fomenting trouble and inciting violence in this country”, Abu Abu Koroma should by now be ancient history. Maybe, the Resident Minister North personifies the ethos of SLPP Paopanism which might be why he seems to have now been elevated to one of the sacred cows of the Bio-led government!
With all of the above hypotheses, the reader will now agree with me that President Julius Maada Bio appears not to be drinking water from GUMA Valley pipes or bottled water from Grafton; but that he might be drinking water sourced from the River Lethe. That might explain why he seems to be showing signs of complete forgetfulness or feigning forgetfulness (delete where applicable).