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Sierra Leone News: CHRISTMAS CRACKER 2016

It is quite a task to find a starting point when one’s mind is overloaded with issues that beg to be shared with my Christmas cracker audience.
However, the word change presents itself as a thread through which run all issues that merit discussion according to my thinking. From global climate change which is experienced so vividly locally in Sierra Leone as harmattan precipitation gives way to rain fall, to the rainy season presenting us with so many oddities that Sierra Leoneans are left agape.  But the most significant and meaningful change evident in Sierra Leone over the past several years is relegated to the final paragraph of this piece.
In the global stage, no one would deny that there have been very remarkable changes; positive and negative, (depending on one’s perception) in the system of things in many countries. Foremost in everyone’s mind is the sliding of the almighty USA (in terms of the election process)  from a leading democracy where elections are not fair and foul, but just fair, to the semblance of some third world African country where elections are wishy washy, with some obscure pretender emerging as winner after a boisterous mudslinging process. And what about the call for a recount after a winner has been declared? Can a parallel be drawn with what obtains in the Gambia, where Jammeh suddenly had a change of mind and decided to challenge the election results which he had earlier accepted?  On these bases can we place Gambia and the USA on the same pedestal?
Along these same lines, who would have thought that a potential US president would demonstrate so much bias towards things and people Russian, both in advance and after elections? The electorate fully well knew his seeming orientation, but decided to vote him in. What can we read into this development in terms of traditional East/West relations which for decades had been so polarized? Will someone be right to assert that the situation is about to be harmonized thanks to Trump’s madness or foresight? What a change that would be? And in light of the surprise America has presented the world by voting the most unlikely candidate as president, isn’t there a potential for a change of the electoral system in that country to get rid of Electoral Colleges. Such a change would be deemed as absolutely necessary if it will result in a situation where the winner of the popular vote is declared President.
However, to toy with the idea further, I would, in my little corner, advocate for the US Electoral college system (with all its complexities) to stay, if only to catapult unlikely candidates to the presidency who show inclination to bridge the gap between the East and the West. If this gap is bridged to a reasonable measure, that would be a blessing to mankind.
The change already brought about by artificial intelligence (AI), and the potential the concept holds of turning the world on its head is unimaginable. My definition of artificial intelligence would be; putting intelligence in machines and getting them to do the work of humans. As I write, machines are being simulated to do renditions of Christmas songs on their own. I am taking this opportunity to inform all and sundry that not all melodious Christmas songs heard on the airwaves necessarily come from humans. The indication is that AI will result in mass unemployment as machines that perform better than us take our jobs. And with this level of technology in the wrong hands, the world is opening itself up to mass destruction if these machines are programmed to fight wars on our behalf. I suspect in some cases you would find them dropping bombs on their makers. Mobile phones have brought a significant change in people’s social behaviour. People would sit together for long minutes without uttering a word to each other. What would they be doing? They would be Phubbing; that is ignoring the person in front of them in favour of their phones. You guessed right, the word phubbing is a potential candidate for inclusion in the English Language Dictionary. It originated in a university in Australia and has reached every nook and cranny in the world. Before the change over to phubbing people would sit and discuss politics, football, women/men or the Great Wall of China as they look each other in the eye. With the change over to phubbing, eye contact in social gatherings has been greatly minimized. ‘Stop phubbing!’ would soon become a normal commend in offices and homes around the world.
One weird change which unfortunately has got the better of sways of populations across the world is the undue attention now paid to the phrase sexual orientation. I am not even sure how many minds I would be unsuspectingly troubling by mentioning this issue in this forum. But there have been such radical changes in people’s thinking and beliefs along these lines that some folks like us are left in wonderland. But I am sure we are in wonderland are still in the majority.  We are told Lesbian, Gay Bi-sexual and Transgender (LGBT) people deserve equal rights, which I honestly believe they do, but an investigation should be done into the issue of what plunged the world into this bog, for want of a more appropriate word. Why would a normal human being want to change from man to woman or vice versa?  I like the change which has resulted in women and girl children receiving so much adoration in our world today. Now if you really want your project proposal to be honoured by the donor community, make sure there is a gender element involved, or else. Oh, is someone warning the fair sex not to take undue advantage of this situation? Don’t ring the sexual harassment bell when a guy admires your body because that’s his duty by nature. Your duty is to put up initial pretence and then later, you know the rest.
In Sierra Leone, we can start with the undesirable changes taking place, like the wait pandemic which is now our lot. People are always in a hurry and no one is ready to wait for his/her turn. And the people are now extremely thin skinned. They will get annoyed over trivial issues especially when such issues relate to politics. Some other changes with political bearing cannot be mentioned because it may be regarded as abomination.
Now the mother of all changes in the Sierra Leone context is the conversion of the entire country into a huge plant yard where construction work is perpetually on-going. From road and rail construction to the springing up of multi-storeyed buildings; from the bee-like engagement to improve electricity supply to the newly found zeal to effect improvement in rural water supply. Virtually all provincial Headquarter towns are being given a facelift simultaneously. Ten years ago no one dreamt that we would enjoy smooth ride on most of our roads across the country.
The fact of the matter is that issues keep coming up. But I must take a break and wish my readers a merry Christmas and a bright and prosperous New Year.
By Dandeson Smith
Monday December 19, 2016

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