-By Austen Akhagbeme::
The people of Sri Lanka couldn’t take it anymore. The Presidential Palace at Colombo, the nation’s capital, was invaded by hungry and angry protesters such that even the presidential kitchen played host to the August visitors with hurriedly self-prepared meals after a good swim at the presidential swimming pool.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has fled his palatial home in a hurry, ably assisted by the army a few hours before the protesters arrived. The President who took for granted the earlier call by sixteen members of Parliament from his Podujana Peramuna Party to resign honourably and the general public disdain for his lacklustre performance, never saw this coming.
But this is the chosen path for a leadership bereft of ideas and hardened to the wishes of the people. It is on record that the 22 million Sri Lanka population is under a crushing economic predicament with no end in sight to the people’s sufferings.
The people of this South Asian country have seen hunger and joblessness in its crude form and hence vowed to unseat the President and enthrone a regime that is humane and can turn around the comatose economy.
For a long time since the Arab spring, we have not seen a people’s revolt so daring and audacious as we are witnessing now in Colombo, the capital city of Sri Lanka. Whether the people will win at last is yet to be seen.
The crisis which was remotely hinged on issues like money creation, nationwide policy shift to organic farming and the devastating effects of covid 19, was escalated and further aggravated by the shortage of essential commodities, the collapse of basic amenities, long fuel queues and the political tussle between the President and the Parliament coupled with the general dissatisfaction of the people with President Rajapaksa’s clueless reign.
There is just so much to take away from all of these in form of lessons, that is. Number one: that the ultimate power lies in the hands of the people and that when the people are vexed to the pinnacle of hopelessness, disruption and disobedience to the civic norm become the rule rather than the exception.
Secondly, a leadership that does not feel the pulse of the people is a steady pack of cards, waiting to be touched by the people’s fingers of anger before its final collapse. These are lessons any government that cares about the people must learn. They are cold lessons but cold messages to us from Colombo.