AROUND AND ABOUT : Of ostentation and ill-gotten wealth



with Kabs Kanu

The other day at a social function at New Jersey , I listened keenly to  an altercation over a woman between two young Sierra Leoneans. The interesting thing about this quarrel was that both parties seemed to have set in for each other long ago .

One of them started insulting the other that the reason that person  was antagonizing him was that he was jealous of him. He told his feuding partner that he was jealous because “Ah betteh pass you far, far way” (The usual Sierra Leonean defence mechanism ). My father was a rich man, while  your’s is poor, remains very poor and will die a pauper if you are not careful..”


The other guy, seeming unimpressed, asked , to the hearing of all : “Why was your father rich ? Was it through hard work and industry ? Was it not because he was a thief ? Was it not because he was one of those involved in the ‘yuki-yuki’ in Sierra Leone ?”, he brawled . “Bo go siddon yah. Do you think that if my father was a thief like your’s, he would live in poverty in Sierra Leone  today ?”

Then followed a profuse expatiation of profanities but this did not stop the man from continuing   the adulation of his father. “My father did not steal like yours.He was not a thief like your father, but I am very proud of him. He is poor but he educated all of us with his own money gained from hard work. Everything he gained, he did it through his honest sweat and for that I am proud  “. Several revellers nodded their heads in acknowledgement and affirmation of his statement, having already been turned off by the proud and pompous guy who lacked common sensitivity  that bragging about his father’s riches and deriding a poor man was in real bad taste , especially so in such a public gathering .

And long before we killed off the senseless turmoil between two of the most respected Sierra Leonean young men in New Jersey, the content of the quarrel became the talk of the Baby-Outdooring ceremony ( Pull-Nar -Doe). Many people said that the quarrel showed how insensitive and conscienceless people who benefit from the corruption going on in Sierra Leone have become .  They have no scuples about yapping about it in public. They now feel that they have a divine right to the nation’s resources  and those who do not join in the orgy are cursed . The analyses of the quarrel also exposed how savvy Sierra Leoneans have become about the filthy rich in their midst. They know that corruption is responsible for creating these bourgeoisie elite. In fact, corruption has become the be-all and end-all in Sierra Leone.  And corruption is the hot talk wherever Sierra Leoneans gather now.  It is now even the yardstick by which the reasons for the prosperity of one family against another’s poverty is measured.

The logic is that one has to be a thief in Sierra Leone to flourish today. The ability to “tiff ” is the barometer that sets apart the opulent from the famished. And a young woman, who seemed to be really upset by what is going on in Sierra Leone today , explained with color and relish : ” But who can deny that fact ? It is the truth  ! ! ! It is the plain truth  ! ! ! The reason that many of us  are in a foreign country hurstling is because we are honest. We want to make our living by honest means. Do you think that if I had been a thief, I would have been in America punching  card and working 16 hours at times to survive ? No way  ! ! ! ! I would have been in Freetown too, stealing  or taking part in the yuki-yuki  life there, driving a Mercedez Benz car , living in a mansion and going to the beach on weekends to bang time and enjoy.  How dare he come and brag here about his father’s riches when the old man  got wealthy at the expense of our taxes and the government’s money ?”

We have flourished in our light-fingeredness in Sierra Leone so much that nobody who gets rich is ever considered to have acquired it legitimately. And that was the issue dealt with by another smart-talking reveler :  Let’s face the facts. Where do people get all the money they flout and use to build all those mansions and  buy all those sleek cars ? Salaries are too low in Sierra Leone and even honest business does not bring in so much revenue to support the larvish lifestyle some people are enjoying in Sierra Leone. Whenever I see anybody living such an opulent life, I know where he got the money. He is either involved in a crookish business enterprise where he is fleecing the nation of millions of leones a day or he has access to public funds which he is misappropriating .”

Few people believe that there are many honest people prospering in Sierra Leone. But everybody in Sierra Leone now seems to have accepted the bitter fact that the only way to flourish in the country is to get involved in the wholesale criminal lifestyle going on there. Being a criminal who embezzles government money or is involved in dubious and shady businesses is now the  much-glamorized profession among Sierra Leoneans. Our society no longer has any respect for people who toil honestly and conscientiously to make their living. At public functions, criminals enjoy more respect than honest citizens.

With a government  like the SLPP running Sierra Leone , the situation will only worsen. There is no change in the horizon. And the government has no stomach to end the charade. And with this sorry state of affairs, the ordinary man in the street stands to continue his catalogue of  suffering . He has been receiving the short end of the stick and will continue until Methuselah.

This is why when people believed to be beneficiaries of the financial criminal enterprise going on  in the country stand in public , denounce the poor and brag about  their  riches, they makes other folks’ blood boil . It  is a  further demonstration of the fact that  we have really fallen and it will take us a generation to grope out of the miasma.

Corruption is very despicable but it becomes more unbearable when beneficiaries become proud, pompous and immodest and brag about their ill-gotten wealth in public functions. But what to do ? We are Sierra Leoneans. 






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