Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Dark Clouds in Sierra Leone

1990s Sierra Leone
What is happening in Sierra Leone today is a real tragedy. Here is a country that barely a decade ago was engulfed in a horrible civil war in which thousands were mutilated, maimed and killed. The situation degenerated to such a primitive level that the international community had to step away from the sidelines and get forcibly involved to bring an end to the mayhem, and put the country on a path to multi-party democracy. Or so they thought.

Barely 12 short years after the all that bloodbath and mayhem, all the problems that led to the conflict in the first place are now rushing back into the country like a giant wave propelled by a vicious tsunami.

Just a year after President Ernest Bai Koroma was reelected for a second term on a promise of an Agenda for Prosperity, the political situation has become virulent, the economic disparity in the country between rich and poor has reached  levels unprecedented in any African country, with the educational system is in shambles, as exemplified by a deputy education minister violently raping a student just trying to get a scholarship. As if these were not bad enough journalists not singing the party tune are now hounded and treated like stray dogs for simply saying truth to power.
Voting for Lies

The new Sierra Leone political class today takes to print and social media to threaten those they have authority over, vowing that nothing will happen as long as they are in power.

 Fulfilling on the pledge earlier this year by the President's Special Executive Assistant that the Koroma government will soon start "sanitizing journalists," two journalists of the Independent Observer have been arrested for over twelve days and refused bail, contrary to all rules of human decency and in violation of both their human and constitutional rights, just for likening the President to a rat. At the same time, journalists close to the President just last week labeled the Vice President an ASS and use all type of unprintable invective against  opposition politicians and walk about free in the garbage filled streets of the country's capital Freetown. This same Special Assistant to the President now takes to print and social media, like someone deranged, insulting real and perceived enemies of the President, all in the name of protecting him, a situation that is making the Sierra Leone ruling class a laughing stock even among poor African nations.
Lost Moses?

Like rats addicted to hoarding, the President and his cronies are the sole beneficiaries of the immense wealth that the new resurgence of iron ore, gold, diamond, rutile and bauxite mining has brought into the country, while the rest of the people in the country are now living like slaves of an unrepentant Pharaoh. Those who saw in President Koroma a Moses coming to free them from poverty are seeing before their own eyes the gradual transformation of an affable politician into a power hungry tyrant doing all he can to hang on to power, even as the constitutional writing on the wall is telling him that he only has four more years.
Captain and Co-Pilot of the
Sanitizing Team

The President has fallen so much in love with sycophancy that he has selected the youngest and most ambitious sycophant the country has today and now seemingly listens only to her as she helps him destroy his four years legacy that was full of hope and promises of a brighter future. In Freetown today there in no more talk of an Agenda for Prosperity. Just a year after taking back power, all the agenda the people are interested in today is the Agenda for Survival, as the promises of better things to come are exposed for their emptiness, even as the living situation becomes worse for the majority of people around the country.

Chldren Looking for Prosperity
Even with all the new found mineral wealth, the average Sierra Leonean has never seen harder times. Only few people in the country are seeing any benefit from this massive infusion of foreign capital,  those close to the Koroma clan. The country is gradually becoming a one man show, with the President now becoming like a post colonial tin can despot, hiring and firing without regard to effect, driving the country into a future of uncertainty on a vehicle of empty promises. Just last week the Works Minister was fired. After spending billions of Leones on questionable road contracts and touting the reconstruction of roads around the city as part of the success of the first term, it is now gradually emerging that these contracts were done on the cheap, with most developing enormous potholes barely a year after being resurfaced. The shoddy road construction has now increased both the incidence and severity of flooding around Freetown, a city built at the base of mountainous terrain and historically subject to long periods of relief rainfall.

Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora who are either too lazy or busy to follow trends back home are now carefully fed propaganda packaged as "rebranding", peddled by the many paid press attaches who are paid to fool the gullible and the uninformed that everything is bright and rosy in Sierra Leone, and things have never been better. The do this while resting on their comfortable couches in foreign countries getting fat on the sweat of the poor Sierra Leonean.
Another Mugabe?

The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) that was set up by President Ahmed Tejan Kabba is now nothing more than a joke, as they continue to lose one easy case after another. Now staffed by another Koroma, the ACC's cases are poorly researched and hastily presented as their catalog of lost cases continue to pile up. The Anti Corruption Commission is now an epitome of incompetence and a typical representation of the mediocrity that has gripped the West African country as the President crusade of putting square pegs in round holes gather momentum.

My heart really goes out to all the poor souls sitting around waiting for an Agenda for prosperity that is sailing on a ship in the middle of an an ocean with a captain who is lost at sea.

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