Selfish Politics is not a new problem in Sierra Leone

by Mahmud Tim Kargbo
22 June 2021

The pattern of routine partisanship and factionalism, and, as a result, of all other vicious practices had arisen…It was the result of peace and an abundance of those things that mortals consider most important. I say this, because, before the destruction of our land in the past war no mutual consideration and restraint between the people and the governing elites characterised the government…

Fear of homegrown enmity preserved bad political practices. And when that fear was more than harboured on their minds, self-indulgence and arrogance, attitudes that prosperity hates, took over. As a result, the tranquillity they had longed for in difficult times proved, when they got it, to be more cruel and bitter than adversity…every man acted on his own behalf, stealing, robbing, plundering. In this way, all political life was torn apart between two parties in Sierra Leone (SLPP and APC), and our political system, which should have been our common ground, was mutilated…And so, joined with power, greed without moderation or measure invaded, polluted, and devastated everything, considered nothing valuable or sacred until it brought about its own collapse.

  • The preservation of the means of knowledge among the lowest ranks is of more importance to the public than all the property of all the rich men in the country.
  • Always consider the settlement of Sierra Leone with reverence and wonder, as the opening of a grand scene and design in providence, for the illumination of the ignorant and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth.
  • The poor people, it is true, have been much less successful than the great. They have seldom found either leisure or opportunity to form a union and exert their strength; ignorant as they were of arts and letters, they have seldom been able to frame and support a regular opposition. This, however, has been known by the great to be the temper of mankind; and they have accordingly laboured, in all ages, to wrest from the populace, as they are contemptuously called, the knowledge of their rights and wrongs, and the power to assert the former or redress the latter. I say RIGHTS, for such they have, undoubtedly, antecedent to all governments in Sierra Leone, — Rights, that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws — Rights, derived from the great Legislator of the universe.
  • Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers (Bai Bureh and co) have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood.
  • Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right, from the frame of their nature to knowledge, as their great Creator, who does nothing in vain, has given them understandings, and a desire to know; but besides this, they have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean, of the characters and conduct of their rulers. Rulers are no more than attorneys, agents, and trustees, of the people; and if the cause, the interest, and trust, is insidiously betrayed, or wantonly trifled away, the people have a right to revoke the authority that they themselves have deputed, and to constitute other and better agents, attorneys and trustees.
  • The jaws of power are always open to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking, and writing.
  • Be not intimidated, therefore, by any terrors, from publishing with the utmost freedom, whatever can be warranted by the laws of our country; nor suffer yourselves to be wheedled out of your liberties by any pretences of politeness, delicacy, or decency. These, as they are often used, are but three different names for hypocrisy, chicanery, and cowardice.
  • Let us tenderly and kindly cherish, therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write.
  • Let every sluice of knowledge be opened and set a-flowing.
  • Let us see delineated before us the true map of man. Let us hear the dignity of his nature, and the noble rank he holds among the works of God—that consenting to political slavery or oppression is a sacrilegious breach of trust, as offensive in the sight of God as it is derogatory from our own honour or interest or happiness.

Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious, or less avaricious than aristocracy or monarchy. It is not true, in fact, and nowhere appears in history. Those passions are the same in all men, under all forms of simple government, and when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence, and cruelty.

I pray Heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this President and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule us in this land.

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