At the height of the Civil Rights campaign in the United States the Great Leader Martin Luther King once said “I don’t know what the future holds…but I know who holds the future.” In Sierra Leone today do we really know what the future holds and who holds that future?
At independence African leaders thought it was better to manage or mismanage their own state affairs. However it turned out that the emphasis was on mismanagement. There used to be a talk – or was it a joke that one of the members of the Sierra Leone delegation at the Independence talks in London asked the question …When will independence end? At the time this was dismissed as simplistic, naïve and even ludicrous. But let us face it have we not come to the end of independence already? No wonder the always drab and lack-luster independence celebrations year in year out. Can we really blame ourselves for not flying our flag high and not able to go beyond the first verse of the National Anthem?
To a very large extent that delegate who asked that question which at the time looked like a stupid question seems to have been vindicated by today’s reality in which the international financing bodies like the IMF and the World Bank, flanked by the international community, put their powerful fingers into every African political pie … or foofoo or ebeh.
Impoverished and mismanaged so called third world countries are strenuously made to dance to the tune of untenable conditionalities that only further entrench their dependence on the west. You don’t have to be a professor of Economics to know that the world economic order or disorder favors the west.
Even the provisions in the U.N Charter had long got obsolete. Take the issue of the protection of states territorial integrity on which the AFRC vainly clung like a radical with his two feet firmly planted in the air. Every country thus now becomes other countries’ moral watch dog of course with startling double standards.
In the so – called global village some states live in thatch houses and savanna mattresses what the Mende man calls jivikei. Others live in Sky scrapers where they send down their electronic messages which are incomprehensible to 80% of their compatriots in the thatch houses struggling very hard to live on Obama’s one dollar a day. How unfair can nature be!
Back to this issue of territorial integrity. Sure technically Kotho was right when he kept shouting about his country’s territorial integrity … but of course the world had changed a lot. What is linked with all this issue of external intervention into country’s internal affairs is ‘might’. It seems even in this modern world ‘might’ seems right. This brings me to the issues raised recently by Charles Taylor’s Defence Lawyer Courtenay Griffiths QC. He is of the opinion that George Bush and Tony Blair should equally be made to face the ICC for their invasion of Iraq.
The world has indeed witnessed several military interventions into crisis that initially started as an internal matter but then went hay wire and attracted foreign military intervention. Take the case of Sani Abacha’s Nigerian support to the people of Sierra Leone. Although the international community initially did not approve of it mainly on the grounds that Nigeria was termed as a Military dictatorship. For Sierra Leoneans our main objective was surviving the rebel carnage and not democracy or moral rectitude. The West at the time ridiculed Nigeria as exporting what they did not have (democracy) and importing what they had (oil). However Nigeria’s brotherly support came in handy. South Africa did it for Lesotho; Uganda did it for DR Congo.
The latest drama in which a warrant of arrest has been issued for president Bashir has given a very interesting twist to the whole issue of bringing leaders to book for crimes against humanity. We are yet to see how and when Bashir’s arrest will be made! We ordinary mortals watching all this drama are bound to ask who actually holds the future?
In many poverty stricken countries wallowing in the abuse and violations of their rights and bad governance, people neither know what the future holds nor who actually holds the future … national governments or international community.
In a democratic state people’s voices are heard through representatives whose selection most times is flawed and so equally their decisions will be.
When a couple of days ago I heard on radio that a survey to ascertain the extent of engagement between parliamentarians and their constituents I knew the blame game will soon start. The parliamentarians will say that their salaries are too small for them to embark on frequent trips to their constituencies. They will definitely mention the terrible terrains they have to traverse with rickety vehicles the loans for which might still be outstanding. The irony is that as policy makers who holds their future? On the other hand their Constituents will fire back that the parliamentarians should have weighed all those challenges before opting to go for it.
In all this the ordinary foot citizen needs to survive by the day and thus sleeps and dreams of what the future holds without perhaps knowing who holds that future. Do you know who holds your own future?
By S. Beny SAM