By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop)
Those Christians who are au fait with the King James version of the holy Bible might be aware of Proverbs 16:18 which states that: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” This verse is as moralistic as it should be helpful to political leaders who use their positions to look down on the very citizens who voted them to their ivory towers!
And even Classical Literature is replete with the works of great writers who have explored the theme of pride leading to the fall of great leaders or states-people (I won’t use “statesmen” because of gender sensitivity!). William Shakespeare is well known for this. From “Henry VIII” to “As you like It” to “Richard II” to “The Merchant of Venice” unto “Troilus and Cressida”; Shakespeare’s exploration of that theme is noticeably noticeable.
Now enter the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP). Two of the defining traits of most members of the government of President Julius Maada Bio are pride and haughtiness. Students of Sierra Leone History will tell you that it were pride and haughtiness that led to the downfall of Sir Albert Margai on 21 March 1967. They will equally tell you that it were those same hydra-headed monsters that were partially responsible for Solomon Berewa not winning the 2007 Presidential Election.
But, sadly though, it appears that the current crop of government ministers and heads of state institutions, under President Bio, have not learnt anything from History or that the Christians among them have not been reading their Bible. Just a look around the corridors of power, the palpability of pride and haughtiness is palpably palpable. The chauvinistic impudence; the brazen arrogance, and the uncouth pride which most of the members of the Bio-led administration are exhibiting towards their fellow compatriots are not only insultingly insulting but have now reached their nadirs.
What is tragically tragic about the pride and haughtiness of most members of the Bio-led administration is the misplaced belief that the SLPP will be in power forever. They are behaving as if there will be no tomorrow. And their attitudes towards democratic tenets are as if the political table will never turn the other way till the end of time. At times, I wonder at their sensible stupidity because it is only sensible idiots who will deliberately rule unjustly with the hope of becoming exiles after their term of office is terminated by the electorate. It’s just plain chauvinistic arrogance!
And it is that same chauvinistic arrogance that made the First Lady, Fatima Bio, to reportedly state that: “only those who are SLPP supporters are true Sierra Leoneans”. Imagine such a statement reportedly coming from a half-Serra Leonean of Gambian extraction telling a full-blooded unadulterated Sierra Leonean like me (whose mother is Sherbro-Limba, whose father is Temne-Temne and whose wife is Kono-Krio) that I’m not Sierra Leonean enough simply because I’m not a supporter of the ruling SLPP. This is arrogance disrobed! But I can understand the speech and mannerism of someone who appears to be highly intoxicated with political power. My Krio relatives have a colloquial way of putting it: “Nar power mis road so.
And as recent as recently the current Chief Minister, Jacob Jusu Saffa aka “JJ Blood”, is quoted by one of the SLPP-leaning local tabloids to have stated in a public function in the southern region of the country that: “No man born of a woman can deny President Bio a second term”. Here again is another blatant ill-mannered exhibition of pride and haughtiness. Mr Saffa’s power-drunk statement reminds me of the statement made by Abergavenny to Buckingham in “Henry VIII” that: “I can see his pride peep through each part of him”. Indeed, Jacob Jusu Saffa is not only full of himself but likes to hear his own chauvinistic verbosity!
Again, as I stated in the intro of this One Dropian dropping that Proverbs 16:18 is as moralistic as it should be helpful to political leaders who use their positions to look down on the very citizens who voted them to their ivory towers; the former Minister of Lands, Dr Denis Sandi, comes to mind.
Dr Denis Sandi was so prideful and haughty that he thought the SLPP government should revolve around him. He thought that he was one of the shakers and movers of the SLPP to the extent that his behaviour became very unbecoming of a government minister. He was so full of himself like “JJ Blood” that he forgot to hearken the words of Agamemnon to Ajax in “Troilus and Cressida” that: “He that is proud eats up himself: pride is his own glass, his own trumpet [and] his own chronicle”. Even when members of the public were demanding his head on the Executive guillotine for his bungling of unresolved lands issues at the Lands Ministry; Dr Sandi was so self-conceited in his self-conceitedness that he reminded some of us of the words of Richard to Bolingbroke in “Richard II” that: “Being so great, I have no need to beg”.
But he finally realised that political power is like a handshake: it doesn’t last forever. And when he finally realised that political reality; his pride fell with his fortunes (to paraphrase Shakespeare’s “As you like It”) and his title “hang loose about him like a giant’s robe upon a dwarfish thief” (Macbeth).
From grace, as Secretary to the SLPP Governance Transition Team 2018, Dr Denis Sandi fell to grass as he now appears to be the errand boy for the First Lady Fatima Bio. The last public sighting of him was when he was used to demonstrate how to use a menstrual pad at a public function organised by the Office of the First Lady.
The symbolism of a former high-profile government minister, who had personified the chauvinistic arrogance of the status quo, being reduced to a demonstrator of how to use menstrual pads shows that no political appointment is everlasting. It shows that when you are higher-up; you should be careful of how you treat those on the bottom rung of the ladder because when you fall, you might be treated like a used menstrual pad!
And the holy Bible is replete with stories in which people reaped what they had sowed. There are instances to show that no matter how long the night; daybreak will surely break. If those members of the Bio-led administration, who are now exhibiting chauvinistic arrogance because they wield political power, do not believe that their work will surely follow them; let them do some research on the History of Sierra Leone.
A time there was when Siaka Stevens was a demi-god in Sierra Leone; but how did he end? Joseph Saidu Momoh was eulogized in songs and graffiti; but how did he end? Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, at some point in Sierra Leone’s History, appeared to have had the power of who should live or die (as demonstrated by the executions of Major Kula Samba et al); but he reportedly died a lonely man. And the current status of Captain (retired) Strasser is a crude reminder that political power is ephemeral!