By Victor Fakondo , Somerset, New Jersey
Wednesday July 19, 2006
Tyranny is nothing new in Sierra Leone. But it is now part and parcel of an increasing lawlessness that is far more significant than any coup, rebel incursion, or episodic experiment in democracy. Crime, poverty, and lacking basic necessities as my friend describe it, is what Sierra Leone a natural point of departure for my article on what the political character of our planet is likely to be in this century.
Sierra Leone is slowly or perhaps has become the symbol of worldwide demographic, environmental, and societal street, in which criminal anarchy emerges as the real strategic danger. Disease, AIDS, overpopulation, unprovoked crime, scarcity of resources, refugee migrations, the increasing erosion of nation-state and international borders, and the empowerment of private armies, security firms, and international drug cartels are now most tellingly demonstrated through a Sierra Leone prism. Sierra Leone provides an appropriate introduction to the issues, often extremely unpleasant to discuss, that will soon confront our civilization. To remap the political earth the way it will be a few decades hence, as I intend to cry for a messiah to rule.
Sierra Leone is a microcosm of what is occurring, albeit in more tempered and gradual manner, throughout the sub region and much of the underdeveloped world: the withering away of central governments, the rise of tribal and regional domains, and the unchecked spread of the AIDS virus- this will be my next article, and the growing pervasiveness of the diamond war. Sierra Leone manifests all the continent’s worst characteristics. It is an extreme, but not untypical, example of a country with all the epiphenomena and none of the institutions of government. It has poverty and disease in abundance, and riches too: Its diamonds once sustain the rebels who terrorize the place, present and other past leaders, who cleverly diverted proceeds of the minerals into their fat pockets (Borbor Belly). It is unusual only in its brutality: rape, cannibalism and amputation have been common, with children among the victim.
In Sierra Leone, there exists only one truly marketable resource left: the exportation of diamonds. Even in the midst of this rich mineral, yet Sierra Leone has been ranked within the world poorest nations, even with the supply of diamonds, which rest within its borders. It is interesting that even with the exports of diamonds in Sierra Leone crippled by the embargoes placed on them by the IMF and the UN; they are still mined and smuggled out.
The politicians intention of emerging as Presidents is all about power. They are not putting the interest of the country at heart, but rather their bank accounts. Their first official visit after their inauguration is in the Kono area, in pursuits of diamonds- a small pieces of carbon with no great intrinsic value- have been the cause of widespread death, destruction and misery for almost a decade in the small West African country of Sierra Leone.
There is a view that Sierra Leone’s war is a crisis of modernity caused by the failed patrimonial systems of successive post-colonial governments. Sierra Leonean writers have rejected this analysis on several grounds. While there is no doubt widespread public disenchantment with the failing country, with corruption and with a lack of opportunity, similar problems elsewhere have not led to years of brutality by forces devoid of ideology, political support and ethnic identity. Only the economic opportunity by a breakdown in law and order could sustain violence at the levels that have plagued Sierra Leone since the Siaka Stevens APC era.
Traditional economics, political science and military history are of little assistance in explaining Sierra Leone’s conflict. The point of the war may not actually have been to win it, but to engage in profitable crime under the cover of warfare. Diamonds, in fact, have fueled Sierra Leone’s conflict, destabilizing the country for the better part of three decades, stealing its patrimony and robbing an entire generation of children, putting the country dead last on the UNDP Human Development Index.
Over the years, no doubt the informal diamond mining sector, long dominated by what might be called a˜disorganized crime, became increasingly influenced by organized crime and by the transcontinental smuggling not just of diamonds, but of guns and drugs, and by vast sums of money in search of a laundry. Violence became central to the advancement of those with vested interests. As the mutation of the post war in the country, it still continues and spread through political turmoil and party conflicts, so did the number and type of predators, each seeking to gain from one side of the conflict or another.
Accordingly, my secondary sources indicate that even at the presidency, the diamond affairs are at the heart of running the country. There are many who have said and openly too, that the President and his second in command are not exempted from the personal mining business, just that they have high level proxies in these arrangements. Charles Margai and the APC presidential candidate, don’t get excited, you too are under strict scrutiny and under the microscope…
Alhaji Kabba regime hides under the shadow of the international community, particularly the United Nations, and Gaddafi to supply arms, to seek continued humanitarian aid, grants from foundations and others while at the same time remaining a vehicle for corruption and injustice, as well as the breeding ground for uncontrolled greed, both for the state power, wealth and unguided social influence.
Over the years, the country has suffered immensely from corrupt leaders, who for lack of better word emerged as saviors, who claims to have a messianic touch, but are they really messiahs? But they are all rogues, thieves, and start and end their regime with the popular say the business as usual ideology. Sierra Leone is actually in need of international support and consideration. These are desperately needed in the areas of democratic enhancement, economic empowerment and social integration. However, there is a need for the international community to make the current regime understand and appreciate that accountability, transparency, self help initiative and the fundamental application of basic principles are intertwined with any form of humanitarian assistance, be it mere relief or technical support. Infact, no note to the candidates, I am advocating that the International intervene and conduct the upcoming elections, to be devoid of corruptions, disappearance of ballot boxes, and fighting, all in the name of free and fear election outcome.
Outstanding amongst those basic principles are adherence to the norms of participatory democracy, promotion of a strong civil society, respecting and protecting human rights and civil liberties, appreciating and strengthening a free and independent media as well as supporting the rule of law and independent judiciary.
Predictably, Sierra Leone still has a brighter political, social and economic future considering the much potential the country and people have, and the interest of the international community in its affairs. However, in order for this future to be realized as expected, I will examine couple areas, that transparency, accountability, respect for human rights and the full and strict application of the rule of law be a yardstick for continued donor support to the present government and successor. Meaning the international community should assist human rights and civil society groups covering the country as watch dogs in order for the full review of the regime.
President Kabba, as you delivered your last state of the union address, the country or citizen will like to evaluate your regime. Have an exit interview done on you. Perhaps, the people have their hands full with the political mess currently in the country. But will like to act on their behalf.
How did you fare on with your leadership skills? F
Your handling of the country’s finances -D
Your handling of the past war “D
Long speeches C
Providing the basic necessities, like electricity, water and food- -F
Isolation from the public “F
International affiliation D
Diamond smuggling “F
Handling the affairs of the government F
Overall evaluationfiltered= F- well done good and poor leader.
In conclusion, the just ended nightmare of bloodshed and situation of hunger and displacement in Sierra Leone could be repeated if the citizen does not come down hard on the regime in the country and its leaders. The country has potentials and the required resources it takes a nation to be developed and, for its citizens to be able to at least afford the average lifestyle, preventing some of us staying too long abroad, and to produce a Messianic king to rule with dignity, contentiously, and with loyalty .