When I was in Junior Secondary School, I loved a particular saying. It went on like this: he who knows not and knows not that he knows not, is a fool, avoid him. He who knows not and knows that he knows not, is a child, teach him. He who knows and knows not that he knows is asleep; wake him. He who knows and knows that he knows is a wise man; follow him.
Our citizens fall in these categories and I am sure many more fall in the first two categories. I do not now remember someone who said that sometimes it is better to stay silent and people doubt whether you are intelligent or not, than open your mouth and speak and clear all that doubt.
One thing I can tell you is that I like music and entertainment. That is why even after 50 I still cherish my jean trousers, sneakers and the back pack. I know most of our musicians and their music and also others outside Sierra Leone. I can remember a Sierra Leone artiste called Raymond. I think He featured on jimmy B’s Best of Sierra Leone volumes. Raymond sang a reggae tune titled Don’t Freeze de breeze or Breeze. The air is one of the 4 elements, the others being earth, fire and water. The elements are so very important in the lives of people. We all need fresh air for us to stay healthy. The moment there is no breeze or air, life is threatened.
Hey there is one place in the world where somehow the breeze is frozen and there is actually no life. That is the Dead Sea in Israel, the holy land. For me it is a great wonder. In 2008, while on some training, we were also taken on pilgrimage to the holy places in Israel. The Dead Sea was one such wonderful place. As the name implies, in the Dead Sea, there is no life. You can actually lie on top of the water and read your novel for a whole day and you don’t sink. Oh what a wonder. You have to go there and actually marvel at God’s wonder. So you see this issue of freezing the breeze is actually possible. In the contemporary world there are a lot of people who try to freeze the breeze especially the politicians and the wealthy. They will create all sorts of life threatening situations to stifle the development of other people.
The world has changed so much. Perhaps it is the people who inhabit this world that are somehow refusing to change at the pace that the world is changing. Somehow it appears every nation has had its ups and downs, but for Africa, it has been more downs than ups. Plain and blunt, we are yet to get our politics right. This is why the average Sierra Leonean even at 50 years is still complaining and cursing the day he or she was brought into the world without his permission. You see how unfair nature itself can be? You do not decide which country you should be born into or who should father and mother you. Governments will come and governments will go and the people will largely stay poor and depraved. So much stress has been placed on advocacy approaches to try and make amends for the huge gaps between action and impact. If Late Pop Shek knew that palm oil will be Le 5,000 perhaps he would have never cut off the railway. I remember riding that train from especially Bo to Segbwema. Oh those train rides were the best of times. At the time as Bo School Boys, all we needed was to save some money and our natural female counterparts Harford School Girls will bring the food. To save enough money we always hid somebody under that thick Bo school Blanket when they came to check on tickets. In the process we nearly suffocated a school mate who apparently had asthma. At the time as school boys we paid only 49 cents for half ticket. Those were days of facilities for the school going child!
Do you know why the world today is stressing compliance and impact? I think it is because unless the real causes of poverty are addressed, all the resources we pore in communities will be for naught. Now there is quite some rush to create awareness on the need for evidence based reporting of what is done under the name of bringing change. If we care about empowerment and accountability, then we should look to evidence base for whatever impact we claim to make. We should continue to ask so what? You have done 100 wells, so what? How many persons are really utilizing the water? How safe is the water? Oh the questions are just too many. In line with democratic trends we should emphasize the beneficiaries ‘self reported sense of change. It is definitely not the Service Provider who should shout loud and clear that change has taken place. Good governance also includes: a healthy life; the acquisition of knowledge and access to resources. A government that ensures the provision of all these may well be on the way to being good by many standards. The trend now is to monitor service delivery but integral to this should be also checking on the social accountability angle.
This is where our politicians come in handy. We have to consciously clear the grey areas already popping their ugly heads and challenging our fledgling democracy. This is where the banning of the Monologue Program for two months is a big blunder, to say the least. Whoever recommended that cabinet action, missed the point. Banning a radio program that has gained so much popularity is like freezing the breeze.
We have seen over the years a lot of lapses that have left our laws with so many gaps, too many for them to work. Take the case of assets declaration, which has been shrouded in secret transparency. A lot of people are not only condemning the ban, but also the process, which is seen as undermining the powers of the IMC. Well let us realize that at the end of the day, truth and justice remain crystal clear to God-fearing people.
By Ben Cambayma
Wednesday July 30, 2014