How Sincere Is Bio’s National Cohesion Call?
When it comes to believing, there are two dangerous pitfalls. Dogmatism is the traditional one, where people know what they know so wholeheartedly that they never appreciate complexity and their views never change. We have been fighting this problem for about eight months. A mixture of moral relativism and abstinence from public beliefs is now often the “Paopa” fashion, where the “Paopa” government know (or kind of, sort of think?) what they know so weak-heartedly, and with such skepticism about the knowledge-seeking enterprise, that they never gain a firm grip on their own opinions or bother to wrestle with differing views. (Photo: President Julius Maada Bio)
Rationally minded nationals are still in doubt last week in Makeni how we now have a kind of intellectual and moral emergency in governance, today the only people on the planet who think the right answers to our more than half a century leadership challenge can be effectively addressed by lying that there’s currently no tribalism and regionalism in Sierra Leone are “Paopa demagogues.” The President said in Makeni “ I don’t understand where the current tribalism cry is coming from. As far as am concern in my village there are Temne and in Makeni there are Mendes; so i see no tribalism”. But this was the same President that once said the elections that brought him to power showed sharp divide between the people. And he’s the same President that’s now supporting the idea for a National Cohesion. The question is if there’s no evidence of tribalism or regionalism where the sharp divide came from or why is the President supporting the call for national cohesion? Sadly, with the massive displayed of military personnel and their hardwares and the call for national cohesion by the President in Makeni, every rationally minded national, start to think that there’s something suspect about the concept of moral truth if one is to compare the utterances of the President and the actions of the military on that day. I believe we need to start writing nice pieces about moral relativism in governance (and I think it prevalence was underestimated while addressing the people of Makeni on that day). So there was sense in saying the elections showed a sharp divide in the contraption, there was also sense in calling for a national cohesion, but it was total nonsense in saying there’s nothing like tribalism under the current “Paopa” regime.
There was a time when most “Paopas” Members and supporters appreciated, on a fundamental level, that Sierra Leone is naturally complex. Now, majority of our nationals either think it is so complex that it is impossible to judge anything, but because they are now in governance, “Paopas” are simplifying it by cutting out the complex parts. Moral relativism and abstinence from public beliefs are common results in their current actions.
These results are strengthened by the political world “Paopa” is currently creating in Sierra Leone. Nationals are conscious of how past regimes have proven intolerant and unable to appreciate all the basic ways in which the differences between us do not justify differing political or moral treatment. Segregation, oppression and tyranny—that’s one version of History the “Paopa” condemned when in opposition. Now in governance, “Paopa” response to it current segregation against the north is: stop believing tribalism is existing under the “Paopa” regime in the first place or stop thinking that your beliefs of “Paopa” regime exhibiting massive oppressive tactics against northerners and western area nationals that failed to support them in the past elections can somehow be worse. It is not that “Paopa” do not have moral or political opinions, just that they have a problem with the idea of defending them when they are in the north, or even fearing whether the people were treating them seriously.
The difficulty with this attitude is that progress requires thinking about debatable things, which requires thinking thought can get us somewhere. That is how we agreed (in another version of History in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission) that segregation is wrong, that it would be nice if national resources and opportunities are evenly distributed within the contraption. It was through pioneers who fought for the right beliefs, who believed in believing, but also in earnestly engaging with differing views.
The “Know-Nothing about governance” nativist political “Paopa” movement, sparked by popular fears that the South and Eastern regions of Sierra Leone was being nationally overwhelmed by Northern and Western region in terms of social positions of trust, got its label because it was so dogmatic. Its followers knew nothing because they thought they knew everything, and thought so despite their initial true ignorance of the civil service sector in Sierra Leone. Now when they are in governance, too many of them take refuge in claiming to know nothing about morality or other complex things that are currently threatening our national cohesion.
By now we all understand that Sierra Leone is in the grip of political tribalism and regionalism. Openly, Bio is lamenting and condemning this phenomenon even as his government voraciously engages in it. But by fixating on the symptoms, we remain blind to the root causes. Sierra Leone is being ravaged by predictable, destructive political dynamics that follow from the combination of state sponsored oppressive tactics in wolf clothing democracy.
By Mahmud Tim Kargbo
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