Last week Friday, President Ernest Koroma may have left most of us agape with what appears to be one of his most incredible speeches in recent times.
Ernest Koroma’s call for a “cultural renaissance” in Sierra Leone during the state opening of parliament last Friday was quite ironic and surprising.
Stating that a cultural renaissance will enhance the re-branding of the country, he strongly said: “I hereby declare every Friday a day of Sierra Leonean culture when we wear Sierra Leonean attire, eat Sierra Leonean food and dance to Sierra Leonean music.”
He says fashion designers in the country should start a process of creating the Sierra Leonean wear for all public functions. “Let us not only wear Africana, but a Leona, or a Sierra; the ronkos of Koinadugu, the Kondee gulay of Bo and Kailahun, the gara of Makeni, the Gabaslot of the western area,” he firmly stated.
While it sounds courageous to hear these words, we would like to ask the following question: is Ernest Koroma becoming a culture nationalist? Or when did he realize that the revival of our culture could generate revenue for our people?
It is an unthinkable absurdity that these words could come from a president who appears more western in outlook than anyone of us in this country. It is a complete irony and a policy contradiction that Ernest Koroma who is rarely seen in African outfit – except perhaps the one he purposefully wore during his last Friday’s appearance in parliament – could echo such a seemingly “culture nationalist” appeal and desire for Afrocentricity. It is unbelievably amazing that a president who consistently flies across the world in the best and highly elegant western designer suits could be telling his kinsmen to dress traditional. This is surely a contradiction in thought that is definitely anchored on a tomfoolery attitude. What a dramatic irony? It is no secret that Ernest Koroma cherishes western clothes than most of the current middle class heads of state in Africa whose specialty in imitating their western masters have remained the only remarkable achievements they could boast of. Look at some of the most recent pictures of Ernest Koroma’s overseas tours including the recent trip to the United Nations General Assembly meeting. What do you see in them? Surely an African in a European dress!
I have stated in a previous article that African leaders do not match their words with their actions. They are extremely garrulous and best at marshalling speeches and delivering well coordinated sentences that are completely far removed from the actual conditions facing the people they claim to represent. For instance, what does ronko, kondee gulay, gara, gabaslot, shegureh, balanji and the rest of it has to do with the rising commodity prices and the increased suffering of the masses? Or what does the declaration of Friday as a day for a Leona or a Sierra got to do with the swelling dreadful conditions of the masses, which have increased at supersonic speed during the first twelve months of APC rule? How does the president expect Sierra Leonean writers and artists to write stories and sing songs of the past when the stories of both our past and present are marred by political deceit, exploitation and violence? Of what significance are a Kondi and Balanji to a people who could now hardly afford the rising cost of empty, dry bread with no butter or cheese? How can someone energize the bubu, goombay and poromende with an empty, hungry stomach?
It is absolutely ridiculousness that president Koroma could find these words very appealing at a time when people share no hopes of what the future holds for their school going children who could no longer pass their examinations in school. What we expect to hear from Ernest Koroma is an intelligent explanation of his government’s planned response to the shocking and dismal senior secondary school examination results. The people deserve an explanation on circumstances surrounding the now controversial contract with Income Elektrics, which has now equally become a shameful and embarrassing controversy to the much trumpeted and propagandized Koroma electricity. If we may ask: why is it that the so-called APC enthusiasts and self-declared Ernest Koroma supporters, who have been singing hosanna and trumpeting the epileptic electricity supply in Freetown, are now dead silent over the Income Elektrics affair? Or how long are we going to wait for the progress report on the performance contract with the APC ministers? And will the much-awaited surprised cabinet reshuffle include different sectors of the middle class political divide? Or will jobs promised to thousands of unemployed youths, who acted as foot soldiers during the many APC rallies last year, ever become a reality?
These are the many questions that occupy prominence in the minds of our people, which we believe Ernest Koroma has been cleverly dodging with his ostentatious phraseology. What has become obviously glaring is the fact that the APC propagandists themselves have quickly shifted gears following the contradiction that now surrounds the Income Elekrics affair. And in its place, they now deceptively massify propaganda around the so-called near completion of the Bumbuna electrification dam as a way of overstepping mass attention on the current controversy surrounding the fading electricity supply in Freetown that was politically prioritized at the expense of the real welfare of the masses.
What this proves to the people is the fact that there is no real agenda and programme of development that the APC government of Ernest Koroma is actually following. Otherwise it is completely bizarre for the president to start thinking about an undefined “cultural renaissance” at a time when almost everything in the country continues to go berserk and unstoppably crazy. Or was Ernest Koroma embarrassed during his recent trip to Conakry for that country’s independent celebrations over the fact that he is more western than his counterparts? Or is Ernest Koroma just becoming a culture nationalist overnight?
© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.