“A nation that expects to be ignorant and free expects what never was and never will be.” President Thomas Jefferson
Dangerous signs to note in any nation or institution is when citizenship and patriotism become only consumable slogans. Irrelevance becomes the relevance, creating an ignorant nation, bereft of substantive ideas needed in a global competitive space. In the case of Sierra Leone, the situation is even dire based on the insincerity of Sierra Leoneans, more interested and excited in accentuating the relevance of irrelevance, largely based on tribal or regional servitude. Unfortunately, expectations in that regard have become whims of what never was, and never will be.
In the rigmarole of some of the competing narratives, some relevant but cloned with irrelevant thoughts, the nation’s expectation of greatness and harmonious coexistence, are now eclipsed by the ignorance of relevance. It is creating a confused nation of crusaders, suspicious of each other, and deriding the country of its potential for greatness. Putting country first, avoid accentuating the irrelevance at the expense of relevance is turning out to be herculean for many. It has happened before, and is happening again.
There are so many parallels between Sierra Leone’s Democracy and the U. S. under Trump. The dynamics reflect a semblance of one of the tenets in the Hindu Holy Trinity, Shiva’s philosophy of destruction and recreation of illusions and imperfections for beneficial change. Assuming the theoretical nature of Shiva’s philosophy in this context, are the outcomes of the current Bio policies reflecting any “beneficial change” from the destruction and chaos they are fermenting? Invoking one of our very popular musician’s lyrics on the previous APC administration, Is “yesterday betteh pass tiday?”
One inhibiting problem worth highlighting in the Bio regime relates to a dangerous alignment of power with ignorance and arrogance. A leadership that is ignorant on governance and arrogant to listen and learn is combustible to a nation’s wellbeing. The governing ideology lacks empathy, and is raping the nation of its innocence.
It is also worth noting being too academic and arrogant in governance, especially in a third world country like Sierra Leone, has a tendency to isolate politics from everyday realities faced by constituents. Moreover, when the political culture of a nation is far behind reality, socio-political and economic emancipation become spent forces. No wonder “Di gron dry’. Democracies, in this respect, die partly due to the absence of sincere comparison between the past, present, and projecting the future.
Our democracy is under threat from the very institutions that must protect it. While vigorously striving to discount some of the successes of the previous APC administration, the Bio administration has so far failed to recreate hope for the nation. There is a semblance of a socio-economic war waged on the citizenry, and violence perpetuated to silence critiques. Our law enforcement institutions, the S. L. Police and military are becoming mercenaries for hire by both some government officials and private citizens with connections “from above”. The vulnerable among us are crying for help, but no one seems to be listening.
It is surprising to see some government ministers wreaking havoc on defenseless civilians. In Makeni City for example, we saw the Resident Minister using military personnel to beat up a civilian due to a personal dispute. In Freetown, the infamous Deputy Minister of Interior Lawrence Leema, constitutionally charged with the responsibility for maintaining law and order, is constantly in the news fermenting societal disorder, leading vigilante groups to attack opposition groups and those he personally disagrees with, not covertly, but in public view. He is even seen on camera, threatening others with arrest with no legal justification.
To be fair to President Bio, it is his uncomfortable silence over all these issues that is making him complicit. As Father of the Nation, one would expect to hear him address some of these abuses and calming the country. But some of the patriotic duties one would expect even from leadership are still not on the horizon.
As Late President John F. Kennedy once stated, “Let our patriotism be reflected in the creation of confidence in one another, rather than in crusades of suspicion. Let us prove we think our country great, by striving to make it greater.”
For us to prove our country great, we must all strive collectively to unite within and without, and bring the bacon of progressive ideas that enable us overcome impasses for the sake of nationhood. Failure to do so may have elections consequences. However, the country already knows the Bio playbook to win, i.e. rig elections with violence, and even using state institutions and law enforcements in the process.
Nevertheless, as patriotic Sierra Leoneans, we must help the Bio administration understand some dynamics on governance and empathy. For example, a government that feeds the child in school, indiscriminately sacks the family breadwinners, starving the rest of the family in the process, abdicates its responsibility to govern.
Not countenancing corrupt behavior, it is very hypocritical of the Bio administration to demand previous APC officials declare assets nationally, while it is busy investing in other countries. In less than a year as president, we saw the Bio family build and inaugurate a five-star hotel in the First Lady’s home country, The Gambia. Recently, social media exploded with excitement on Idriss Elba’s proposed investment in Bonthe, the proclaimed political capital of President Bio.
For every patriotic Sierra Leonean, this is a time to pause, and question President Bio’s priorities. While the First Lady redefines moral equivalence in the adage “Charity begins at home” President Bio seems to be clueless. Just consider the lost job opportunities for a struggling Sierra Leone and gains in The Gambia. This clearly shows when Bio leaves office, there won’t be a shred of questionable Bio assets within our shores. In the lesser of two evils, one who steals and invests at home is a lesser criminal than the Bio model.
Another very frustrating case in point is our First Lady, Mrs. Fatima Bio, a professed Gambian national disparaging ethnic Sierra Leoneans, who disagree with her husband’s policies. She is arrogantly heard telling them to pack up their belongings and go live somewhere else. This is very troubling. The First Lady must realize her polarizing utterances are unacceptable to Sierra Leoneans. She is proving to be a distraction to her own husband who gets painted with her disdainful brush. She must stop using the pulpit of her husband’s presidency to insult, and push Sierra Leoneans around.
However, the hypocrisy of the commons in our country has created servitude and political prostitution. To the “vocal saints” during the APC era, who have now found home in the Paopa administration, where has the love for Mama Salone, which you cried
for so hard gone? Your ability to analyze issues then has phased out under Paopa. The politics of our times, propagated on social media, has significantly blinded and confused you. It has recalibrated you into robots, less inclined to read and analyze issues, but masquerading in 24-hour media cycles, embracing soundbites, reacting with misplaced political, tribal, or regional undertones.
Collectively, Sierra Leoneans must do more than therapeutically sounding off on 24-hour social media cycle tirades. They must exercise a greater capacity to decipher relevance from irrelevance. Embracing irrelevance at the expense of relevance is suicidal to our nation. The ignorance of relevance and the arrogance of irrelevance in the end will cause us to lose our national identity. Invoking a twit from Senator Cory Booker, a former U. S. Presidential Candidate, “The answer to hatred & division is to reignite our spirit of common purpose …., there is more that unites us than divides us.”
Thanks for listening. Just another crazy two cents, worth more than someone’s million dollars.
Dr. Yahya Kaloko