Monday, October 29, 2012

Sierra Leone News Update: The Rat's Buttocks-"World's Best

RUF for Koroma
Last week Sierra Leone's presidential candidates were crisscrossing the country, appealing, begging and threatening for votes. The two main parties, the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) and the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) have been traveling in different areas of the country drawing huge crowds of revelers, onlookers, opportunists, traveling supporters and professional crowd swellers.

There was a huge hoopla about the statement American Ambassador to Sierra Leone Michael Owen made, telling a local FM station in the country that he thought there could be a second round of voting as the two main parties both seemed to have massive support around the country. This statement elicited an unreasonable outcry of political interference from ruling APC party supporters, who are of the opinion that football carrying President Ernest Bai Koroma, is the "world's best president", in spite of the fact that the level of unemployment in the country is over 80% and the devastation of the country by the preventable disease cholera is the greatest claim to fame that Koroma has had in 2012. Google cholera and the name Koroma will come up.

The funniest reaction to the Ambassador's assessment did not even come from APC, but from the presidential candidate of the United Democratic Movement Mohamed Bangura whose claim to popularity is his weekly release of ridiculous statement, each one somehow succeeding to be more juvenile than the other, all in a bid for publicity.

Poor Mr. Bangura stated that by saying that there would be a run off, the ambassador was interfering into the politics of Sierra Leone. What is so funny about aspiring president Mohamed Bangura's statement is that if there was no run off,  his party's total votes in the first round would not even be worth counting, let alone announcing. Political watchers in Sierra Leone state that Mohamed Bangura and UDM would only get 500 votes in the entire country if monkeys were also allowed to vote and as Christiana Thorpe did not open the biometric registration to these fellow primates, sane people everywhere are wondering what the garrulous Bangura is whining about. At least if there was a second round, he could legally go on TV and make a hug fanfare about endorsing his patron, the "world's best."

Now is time to dissect the anatomy of the new APC catchphrase "The World's Best." The political spectacle the last week in Sierra Leone, apart from the huge crowds of supporters milling behind the two major parties presidential candidates, is the ubiquitous picture of an eternally grinning Ernest Koroma riding everywhere with a football in his hand surrounded by the same people at every turn, calling him "The World's Best."

Politics is suppose to be serious business, it changes the destiny of nations and affects lives. The era of responsible leadership is upon the world. The world is heating up and the population of the world is increasing at rates that portend a terrible future in the developing world if the application of scientific methods to food production is not rapidly accelerated. It is the era for individual nations to be serious at seeking tangible solutions to getting their populations out of poverty and preparing for the impending challenges of the future. Yet in Sierra Leone, high on the index of human misery and low on the index of human development, stuck in an ocean of hunger and human suffering, afflicted with the world's most rapid decline in educational standards second only to Afghans under the Taliban, the president is masquerading with a football in his hand, surrounded by drunken revelers shouting that he is the world's best.

What actually is the APC government of Sierra Leone world's best at, the propagation of hunger? Facilitating the spread of cholera? Entrenching the spread of tribalism and regionalism? Converting Sierra Leone into a Narco state? Presiding over the greatest decline in educational standards in the history of Africa? Increasing the reliance on witch doctors and herbalists in the face of declining health standards.

The term world's best is symptomatic and symbolic of a rule that is based on a foundation of sycophancy. President Koroma has always been the sycophant's messiah. The most successful people in Sierra Leone today are those with the greatest aptitude for praise singing. Nobody amongst the president's team believes he is the world's best at anything, but in Sierra Leone, he can make or break the common man, so many people have decided to go along for the ride.

So make sure you are very close to the president's truck and as soon as he makes eye contact with you, shout "world's best" and you could be transformed from primary school teacher in Masiaka to the Ambassador of Japan. Ardent former critics of EBK's misrule like Ernest John Leigh, Sengu Koroma, Usu Boie and my own Segbwema Robin Fallay have all joined the Krishna chant of "World's Best" Ambassador Leigh makes sure that the last thing he types on Facebook when he sleeps at night is "world's best"

Judging by the crowds that Maada Bio and Kadi Sesay are drawing in every area of the country though, it seems not everybody is sold on the Koroma happy hour. World's best or world's worst, Sierra Leone is up for a tough challenge and with the growing opposition crowds, it seems the people have sensed that no matter how you decorates the buttocks of a rat, they will always be rats buttocks.

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