Over the August 10 protest that gave birth to many violences and alleged plethora of abusive language to the people of Sierra Leone from the ruling party, Sierra Leone People Party (SLPP) that the opposition party APC are the perpetrators of the said event by calling them all sorts of names, Titus Boye Thompson, communication experts expressed his opinion and its effects to Nation building.
“It is becoming disconcerting, the plethora of venom in language that seem to be entrenching positions against the citizens of this country, all in the name of politics. Nothing is sacred any more, from stark disrespect to the President right up to a disregard for life and limb, Sierra Leoneans on social media are not mincing their words.
This dangerous development is rather alarming for such a toxic exchange to be engendered within the polity therefore it is absolutely necessary that something is done about this. The exchanges range from ordinary subjects in everyday life to more complicated issues dealing with the political environment and landscape. Worst of all, the protagonists have in the main involved members purporting to be representing the government or even officials speaking in their professional capacities.
In the first instance, the perpetuation of toxic imagery started with the descriptive use of egregious corruption levelled against previous government Ministers and other high ranking officers. To the untrained eye, the term “egregious corruption” became easily fashionable and in a manner supine but it detracts from the superlative presumption of innocence until proven guilty, a remarkable conditionality of our system of laws that protects the innocent from being lynched by an antagonistic crowd, by mistake or a good man put down by error.
It is not easily discernible how that phrase got into our dictionary but its widespread use and intonation has created an atmosphere of wanton misrepresentation that has tended to malign so many of us.
Another ludicrous term describe members of the opposition at first as “terrorists,” then new additions to that description were added with words such as “insurrectionists”, “attempted coupists” “coup plotters” and “traitors” embedded in the mix. What is clearly recognizable were phrases such as “only supporters of the SLPP are true Sierra Leoneans,” or that those found guilty of corruption “should be dealt with by mob justice.”
In the main, we have now seen how these terms have so ingrained into the general psyche of the sierra Leonean that “mob justice” became an easy device on August 10 2022 when a protest demonstration along the streets of Freetown and other regions became bloodily deadly. To the extent that we now have a very dark on our collective conscience.
It is the bloodletting and subsequent malfeasance that has alarmed many reasonable citizens. The activities of August 10, 2022 are no longer being left to the preserve of the Government’s commission of Inquiry to unravel but language that are both toxic and damaging are exchanged around those events as if there are failsafe cast iron versions of the whole episode.
No one in their right mind should support any bloodletting in our political space, more so the killing of innocent bystanders or Police officers doing their duty. What is however reprehensible is the official versions of language that tend to ascribe blame and apportion culpability on all but themselves.
No matter how this is sliced up, no amount of official sanction can be ascribed to a security sector that has resorted to turning its guns on the citizens when we all should abide by a legal system of courts and tribunals. We are all collectively to blame for this ensuing mess but the greater responsibility rests on a government that increasingly has refused to open up the political space to rapprochement or endeavoured to reach common understanding with the entire polity.
In another pretext of safeguarding what is now openly a dichotomy within the polity, those who use such incendiary language tend to be characterized by a clear alignment to either tribe or region. To the extent that many Sierra Leoneans now see their tribe as a distinguishing characteristic of their own persona.
Not that there is anything bad about that – pride of one’s origin and tribe, culture and traditions make you indelibly African and a grounded individual but to the extent that hate becomes a supplementary attachment to that alignment of tribe, then you have the makings of ethnic cleansing and a disposition to view others differently and this is done in a country where language, culture and traditions are so intermingled and mixed through intermarriage, and forbearance. One wonders whether the lessons of our recent past has so quickly been erased or lost on the national consciousness.
Sierra Leone is too small a country to be building up such a hotbed of animosity amongst each other. We need to stop this name calling and tribal baiting. It is not right to practice incendiary politics by name calling of the opposition because when the chips are down, no political party can win by tribe!” Titus Boye Thompson disclosed.