Deceptive Living and other Dilemmas of Sierra Leone

19 March 2006 at 03:51 | 696 views

By Gbakanda Kamara in Norway

The developing political atmosphere in Sierra Leone of late is a very good source for all to do some introspection and reflection. It is a must for all true and well meaning Sierra Leoneans who think of the future of that country, not of the self. It is time for some HARDTALK and hard thinking, if our posterity does not have to blame the ineptitudes of our generation and see us as useless forefathers.

These introspections and reflections are a must because as Petra Kelly ,founder of the German Green Party once said” WE, THE GENERATION THAT FACES THE NEXT CENTURY,CAN ADD THE SOLEMN INJUNCTION, if we don’t do the impossible, we shall be faced with the unthinkable”(My emphasis).

For the Sierra Leonean who is well meaning this is a very fitting statement. We don’t face the next century but live in it and should do the impossible which to begin with means to face realities without personal, regional, ethnic and other socio cultural strings and hindrances.

To achieve this means going through the events of the country from 1924 to the present. Why do we have to go so far back? The answer is, and it is the writer’s strong position, that 1924 marks the beginning of the processes that are today the woes of that resource laden and potentially rich country.

This was the year the divide and rule philosophy of the British colonial masters became institutionalized in the provinces through legal instruments. Since they (the British) left these structures have seen little or no change as is the case in most African countries.

These methods of governance were extremely totalitarian and are today still used by those who rule and administer to misuse and abuse the country and its resources through covert concords with internal and external forces that have no moral obligations to the development of Sierra Leone.

Also a key point about 1924 is that it sanctioned the existence of a political clan -SLPP- that was going to split up and grow other offshoots (first the EBIM and later the APC, then the NDP of the Taqis and several others leading to now the PMDC) all being like the parent-deceptive and destructive because their memberships are all controlled by an insatiable EGO that only wants power to have access to the resources.

Once they have this access they form unpatriotic covert alliances with those who have no moral obligations to the country. They rubbish the country by misusing the resources and going to the international community to ask for alms as if the country is so impoverished that it needs constant external fiscal support to run itself.

They little realize that just proper contracting with so called investors, internal or otherwise, can alleviate the problems of the country. They do all this because the people are still in the dark as to what resources they have, the regional distribution and the value of these resources. In the process of such unpatriotic and immoral manipulations of the people they shelve the actual issues.

In the process the issues of importance are shelved for personal, regional, ethnic and other damaging and demeaning reasons. This shelving is aided and abetted by the people because they have been reduced to a pandemic beggarly status. This is one of the facts of the senseless war that has displaced, forever it seems, a lot of the people.

Let’s take a logical look at the incidences surrounding the war.Foday Sankoh and his unknown covert supporters had a ready war machine in the disgruntled youths and suffering masses. If and only if after independence the body politic had concentrated on actual development planning and implementation and the economy had grown, nobody in his right frame of mind would have joined that evil war machine.

In fact one has reason to believe that the mass pilfering of public funds in the late 1970s and early 1980s was a planned strategy by the disgruntled politicians under a one party state that offered them a chance to exploit the system and destroy it in the process. This was the first step to the war as it created national loss of faith in the APC and the government, i.e., the public service.

Some of these key players are today parading as clean messiahs and are in the present political status quo.If they were as they claim to be today why did things go wrong under the APC? Or is it that it can only be right under what they consider to be their own political party? Should party concerns override the national interest and the moral or patriotic considerations?

Let‘s take a little deviation from this topic for the sake of illustrating a tale of two countries of much similarities. Norway, where this writer happens to live has the same population as Sierra Leone and only oil and fish to offer but nobody goes to bed hungry or sleeps in the streets. Some may want to argue that oil wealth is not easily plundered but what about countries like Nigeria, Iraq, Venezuela etc?

This country (Norway) was one of the poorest in the world and they suffered greatly during the Second World War but because of the moral sense of the leaders they shelved politics and worked to develop their country from the ruins of the war with the help of the Marshall Plan. This developed a sense of nationhood that is today reflected in the very attitudes of the people. It is a nation where personal wealth does not matter. There is no high table for anyone and even the King considers himself equal to the ordinary man (it is a country where no one sleeps in the streets or hungry because the system provides for all through a national social security system that provides money for food ,housing and other basics to the needy).

An interesting point to note also is that actual economic development in Norway started in the 1980s when the North Sea oil explorations started, at which time Sierra Leone started her downward journey in the development avenue.

happened around that time while Sierra Leone had colored TV broadcasts captured as far away as Bo, Kenema, Bonthe, Port Loko and Kambia. There was power supply in all the main district and provincial towns but between 1980 and 1990 everything collapsed

This country’s example clearly shows that it is not the number of resources or kinds of resources but the willingness of the governing machinery to do good for the greater majority.

Why the differences in track record of the two countries’ development? The answer is in the political history and culture in place in the two countries. In the case of Sierra Leone, the former colonialists had in place a system that is today adopted and used by the misguided elites who took over the reins of power.

This culture was put in place not with the intention to introduce western type governance to a people that have their inherent traditional systems and which they understand and appreciate, but to remotely control a country whose resources that country and her allies so much depend on after granting flag independence to the country.

This was ensured by the value system introduced through an educational system that looked low upon the lower and middle classes. The son of a farmer or somebody of such status was spitted on because one has to be a son of a lawyer or doctor or someone with a white collar job to be part of mainstream society. It is this deceptive value system that has been one of the core reasons for the country’s failure to make headway.

Thus the administrative mechanism and culture, a product of this type of education and value system , does more damage to the country then helped it. The average so-called educated Sierra Leonean is nothing but a misguided and confused creature whose existence is shadowed by false pretences and deceptive manipulation of his country and countrymen and women.

When he finds himself in public office he is nothing but an egocentric zombie manipulated from within according to the codes of conduct of his service and without the administrative structures he operates in by kickbacks from the award of fake contracts.

Worst still is when he is at the political level. He assumes a demi- godlike stature recklessly playing with the lives and posterity of his countrymen as if he is the only chosen one by a god whose decision making favors a strong minority. He signs agreements and contracts only on the consideration of what benefit he will get from the deal, in the process thereby selling his country’s resources cheap to those who don’t care about what happens to the people.

In his god-like stature he assumes the role of the benevolent giver to those he misuses and abuses. The few of this class who work in the national interest are always losers. The very people say they have not been serious enough to plan for a tomorrow because they have not been parties to corrupt practices.

Why is it that this happens? The answer is that the educated Sierra Leonean involved in the administration of the country, be it political or public service, is a prototype of the colonial master whilst he wants to assume and maintain an African or Sierra Leonean personality: - he is a typical case of one suffering from the split personality syndrome.

This syndrome is institutionalized by the value system of the very people who suffer the brunt -a half schooled public servant displaying wealth from corrupt means is considered to have got this benevolence from god- which god, is the big question. A head of department whose subordinates show more wealth because they are involved in corrupt practices is not serious.

As a result of this psychological imbalance the "schooled" Sierra Leonean sees himself and the issues of his very existence from a very obscure and egoistic point of view. The self always overrides his senses of reasoning and judgments because his relatives and society want it that way. A minister of state or parliamentarian who does not have time to see or give to the people every day should consider himself ostracized and out by the next election.

This has two very grave consequences on the country. First, unnecessary and bloated expenses leading to corruption becomes a means to a way. On the part of the people, they refuse to learn to fish as they depend on fishes handed out by these demi-god politicians and public servants. This is a conundrum of deceptive existence-who knows you, leading to unholy and worthless alliances based on personal, ethnic and other retrogressive parameters.

Next the politicians and public servants have little or no time to do their actual work as they spend a greater percentage of the allocated work time seeing people who only come to ask for things, not to produce or contribute to the national development process.

As a correlate to this stagnating process, the fiber that should make for effective social and developmental interactions and focus are lost. Thus it becomes an everyman for himself,God for us all situation, leaving the uneducated and poor to the mercy of the Dogs. In the process a lot of frustrations set in and God becomes important as consolation- the reason for the rise in the number of religious institutions and frequency of worship in the country, fulfilling the socialist cliche of religion being an opium for the masses.

A result of the type of system that is aptly wrong is the concepts that people have about education and religion. For most, the essence of being educated is to enhance the promotion of the ego-a concept derived may be from the traditional class structures. The educated in Sierra Leone, especially those from the provinces, are chiefs and demi- gods to his kinsmen and peers who did not have the opportunity to go to school. They must provide relief always and at all costs.

So instead of the educated fellow acting in the interest of the wider universe, he acts against it by misusing and abusing it because his limited means have to be replenished by covert corrupt practices. Thus he misuses and abuses his power over the economy as a trusted administrator of the country .

Why should it happen this way? It has to happen because the very culture of governance inherited from the former colonial system is what is still in place. It is a system built on deceptive philosophies and foundations. A system that practices the opposite of what it preaches-one that cries democracy but which is totalitarian in structure and functions.

That is what the educational systems delivered and so also are the religious systems inherited from the colonial powers (this includes Islam as well as the Arabs had been long in Africa before the Europeans). These two important systems that hold the instruments of mental control dictate totalitarianism in the sense that the obey and complain later rule-one which makes zombies and sycophants out of people- operates in all these institutions.

These totalitarian structures are shrouded with the open pretences of elections-most of which are technically rigged in favor of a marionette that will be remotely manipulated.

Of course elections are the beginning of democratic governance but I am not talking about democracy as it was proclaimed after the 1996 elections -and all the noise of a democratically elected government being in place but which has little or no respect for democratic principles such as freedom of association and speech to name a few.

Where do the elite come in this picture? It is the absolute insincerity with which they manage the affairs of their unfortunate countrymen, forgetting their moral obligations to God and country that is the issue.

Going back to 1924, it is clear that there is a political pattern in Sierra Leone built on the deceptive dynamics of CHANGECOATISM (all due respect to the English Language) and sycophancy. A situation described in the latter days of the APC as- get u man en chap u chap- which is very much more operative today than in the APC days.

This deceptive dynamics has always been the cause for friction within and without the political clans that are called political parties. It is still because new parties emerge only when internal frictions create implosions that push out some key members.

This is the reason why 40 plus years after "independence", Sierra Leone has still not had a national philosophy and ideology. Also it is one of the root causes of the war in the sense that friction from within the parent party-SLPP- resulted in the EBIM and later APC and several others that did not survive. All of these being one and the same but using diverse propaganda tools to fool the ordinary minds in the country. Now an offshoot calling itself PMDC ,DECEPTIVELY ASSUMING THE STANCE OF A THIRD FORCE-DEM ALL NA AKATA EN COMBOLO PEPUL!!

Sierra Leone needs a third force no doubt. The question here is what form should this third force take and how can the people know it is the actual force? Should it be just a new movement with a bookishly written document promising to deliver goods their membership little understand, let alone the peoples of the country, and which they claim is their manifesto?

One quality of this third force should be its novelty. It should not be tainted by the prominence of old recycling politicians because from simple reasoning a family that has the genetic imprints of thieves cannot and will never produce priests! If they happen to have one of their kind become a priest, that priest will soon steal the offerings!

How can the people assure this? They should stop casting their votes for reasons that are not in the national interest; a task that should transcend all the present ways of thinking.

The people of Sierra Leone owe the obligation unto themselves to begin to think of Sierra Leone as a nation not just their regions, districts or provinces, as is typical up to this moment.


Photo: King Harald V of Norway.