It is a new year, the end of a decade and the beginning of another. It is the time to take stock of life in general, mark new beginnings for a better future, as resolutions come and go. This is no different from politics. The last decade would be remembered among other things, as the era that saw democracy take a detour, that democracy became a desktop job and can no longer be taken for granted.
Now we know that “democracy substitutes elections by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few” (G.B. Shaw).
Just watch how America, one of the greatest democracies is shredding the very foundations of democracy. We have seen the rise of populism, fascism, protectionism and jingoism disguised as patriotism. But closer to home, we witnessed the SLPP took the reins from the APC; thanks to the people’s mandate.
Sierra Leoneans therefore expect a changeover, not a hangover. Better changes to the system, changes to people’s lives, the cost and standards of living for all – would be the minimum requirements.
The Bio led government has been in power for nearly two years. If we were to provide a balance sheet of President Maada Bio’s brief tenure, what would it read like? Don’t answer that because I know that your answers would largely depend on which side of the political spectrum you are sitting. Nevertheless, if you speak to a green leaning supporter, the answer will most likely contain a noun, a verb and superlatives. And if you try one with a red hat on, it would definitely contain a noun, a verb, an adjective, and loads of “isms”.
Notwithstanding this, Bio’s reign has seen a new wave of additions to our local parlance. While the late Sheki had “Usai den tie cow” (that’s where it all started), we now have “de grun dry”, “De game don big” and “Ar nor dae o – Ar travel” etc. It is very tempting to dismiss such phrases as loose talk. But for any politician to dismiss such will do so at their peril. They say that a day in politics is a long time; just like a phrase in politics is enough to make or break a political party’s chances of victory.
Maada Bio came to power on the crest of the people’s disillusion with the APC party which had fast become synonymous with corruption. He vowed to fight corruption, which led to the inception of the Commission of Inquiry (COI). I don’t even remember when last I heard the words ‘Commission of Inquiry’ mentioned.
Donald Trump cannot even spell “politics”, but his “Make America Great Again” was enough to present him as a pure distillation of accumulated white grievance and anger. Even his staunchest supporters would struggle to show how he has made America great again. Trump has been accused of being a racist, but Trump did not make Americans more racist. Rather, he normalized it and let out a lot of the long suppressed demons out of the box.
Against such a backdrop, one is not surprised to see that his Republican Party has rather been transformed into a political cult; steeped in the paranoia that dark forces threatening America can only be saved by “True” Americans who are white, Christian and conservative. That is the driving force that has made his Republican Party become selectively blind, and afflicted by amnesic syndrome. It is no wonder that the party has gone Machiavellian, become drunk on a political potion, just for the acquisition and maintenance of power. It is no wonder then that the party now has as its sole purpose to protect and promote its leader by any means necessary and at the expense of political sanity. Does that sound familiar?
Coming closer to home, the SLPP Party came to power on the back of unrivalled levels of corruption under the previous APC government. It has not missed the opportunity to ram down the throats of the electorate about the massive corruption; the fight against which has been the SLPP party’s sing song since taking the helm.