I have a Real Dream!

10 April 2009 at 20:51 | 859 views

By Dr. Foday M. Kallon, Freetown, Sierra Leone.

International public opinion has learned with indignation about happenings in Freetown and Sierra Leone in general. This demonstrates that there is still the absence of political tolerance in Sierra Leone. The people seem not to have learned from the past "deep down in the bones” but only “in the flesh". They pay lip service to democracy and democratic practices. They do not believe in agreeing to disagree. They believe in "my idea, my party, my choice of leader, my relative, myself etc." to prevail in all circumstances irrespective of developmental repercussions for the nation state Sierra Leone. Before now, I thought, we have had enough of naked violence in our country. It does not, however appear to be so.

As I see things, mass illiteracy and extreme poverty play vital roles in propagating violence, and the selfish elites exploit these as means to their own ends. A major resultant problem is therefore, the inability to love one another and to let justice prevail in upholding the rule of law. As long as we are unable to love one another, we will be unable to love our country. Sierra Leone would assume in the long run only a different version of Somalia, a nation with same cultural identity, struggling to disintegrate into autonomous states, while Sierra Leone, made up of nations, is trying to become a state.

The great trial of the day for us all would be to give answers to certain questions such as "who are we , what are we capable of doing, what and who do we want to be, and where are we heading, and how far are we from where we are?" Instead of waging psychological warfare on one another in politics, let us try to re-identify, re-estimate and recognize who we are and what we were some years back. Let us be true realists, which involves a dual vision, both sight and insight. If we condemn ourselves to being capable of seeing only half of the situations as they occur, then we are not being realists but in self-destructive blinkers.

In recognizing the historical reality, let us realize that in the pre-colonial era, ethnic groups naturally existed as a union of culturally similar people operating as truly functioning nations. As such, there were no tribal wars in Africa before the arrival of the Europeans.

If there were any wars, they were wars between nations. To test-case with Europe in our modern times, let for instance, Germany and Austria be forcibly merged into one state, even though they speak the same language, and the development observed over time. The situation would hardly be different from ours of today, except that the two nations have learned how to agree to live and deal with individual and societal differences in an agreeable and civilized manner. This is exactly the quality we should all crave for in Sierra Leone. Quality is not an act, but a habit, as told by the philosopher, Aristotle.

I would say in addition, that it is a habit pracitised over a long period of time that develops into character. Civilized people are those who live in relatively “large” communities happily and pleasantly in their “own” healthy and politically conducive environment.

On the basis of this description, most Sierra Leonean politicians could be unreservedly termed as a set of uncivilized people. It is a common practice in Sierra Leone that when people attain certain political uplifting, they unequivocally acquire various uncivilized behavioural patterns, or become surrounded by uncivilized or unethical groups of people who tend to “show the way”. The unbeatable danger is not that themselves when considered in isolation, but they acquire some powers in themselves, which they exercise to have absolute say and control over people that are capable of causing havoc on their behalf and by proxy.

Consider for a while, the character and phenomenon of lying by Sierra Leoneans and their confederates (e.g certain foreigners). If we have been liars through out our lives, and this has brought us nothing but destruction, why don’t we try the opposite practice, say, accept and practice the TRUTH at all times, to see what that too would lead to and provide for us.

SLPP and APC are strategically and unhealthily competing with one another for power to politically rule Sierra Leone. There are at least two ways to establish healthy competitive advantage in economics, business, industry and politics: do things better than others or do them differently, people will almost always appreciate you or your products. The former Federal Chancellor of Germany, Helmut Kohl and his conservative party CDU, democratically remained in power for four consecutive terms of office. Germany almost appeared to be a monarchy, but remained a capitalist state with a “human face” and great social responsibility.

Some political activists claim that the multi-party system is strange to Africa and therefore the root cause of our political confusion, and that the one-party system of government was in operation before colonialism. Do we get harmony at all when everyone sings the same political slogan? No! Besides, there is no authentic historical evidence for this. If there were any political system in operation, it was that of a NO-PARTY system. The colonialists deliberately refused to recognize the contemporary ethnic settings and practices of that time, taking no cognisance of the common identity of our people, of course for obvious reasons.

They divided the ethnic group settings and butchered the boundaries in order to brutally rule the ethnically-based and indigenous African nations. However, we have uncovered the truth and recognized the reality. What now is required from us all is to act (e.g exploit natural resources, abandon tribalism, regionalism, nepotism,etc) appropriately for the common good of our nation.

However, a new Sierra Leonean personality has emerged ( take note of proponents of African personality and Négritude by respective renowned Pan-Africanists: late Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and Leopold Senghor, or the anthropologist Sheikh Diop). The new Sierra Leonean is greedy, envious, unpatriotic, lawless, selfish, heartless, pessimistic of his/her country, believes in making quick money even at the cost of his nation and even if it involved “selling” Sierra Leone, has lost hope for a better future for his country, and lacks perspectives or daring adventure for economic development.

In addition, assessing Sierra Leoeneans correctly and predicting their behaviour is the basis for successful political good governance. Which methods, instruments or political approaches would deliver such pertinent data?

I am somehow confused and ashamed of the present Sierra Leonean international public image. However, there is a time in the affairs of a man when he has to decide: to be or not to be. Things don’t seem to be moving in the right direction as of now, even though the President, Ernest Bai Koroma is making bold, innovative and desperate moves (e.g making a surprise and unannounced visit to the SLPP headquarters without the so-called body guards, especially the notorious ones).

Every day things are getting worse, both politically and economically. If the government spends its time trying to “silence” the opposition, while the opposition continues with its "pull him down" syndrome commonly known as "phd" until the Koroma five year term expires, who will be the ultimate loser? Of course, we the Sierra Leoneans and the country in aggregate. Our abilities may get us to the top of things, such as our party, our political dreams, our dignity or other desires but it takes character and genuine performance to democratically keep us there.

The psychiatrists would convince us that every normal human being possesses five senses. This is not totally true. Experience has revealed that there is a need for the sixth sense: empirical evidence and perpetual optimism as opposed to seeing impossibility in every opportunity, as demonstrated by the hopelessness of Sierra Leoneans when it comes to matters of economic development.

I have a dream! I dream of a day when the “good and honest” people of Sierra Leone shall truly rally with solid support behind their “good, honest and capable” President, irrespective of their party affiliations, for the sake of total national economic development, to make our country the “Kuwait” of West Africa, if not of Africa as a whole. Until however, we agree to say, accept and practice the truth and remain steadfast within the context of an African democratic rule, we shall ever remain the “dust bin” of West Africa.