Loosing the fight . . .
Kenya‘s corruption in has gotten to a point where it is more or less acceptable. In the sense that it no longer raises the eyebrows it should. Now what astounds people is not the vice but the amounts being bandied around by the perps.
The few occasions that we get reports of cases of an anti-corruption nature are normally steeped in disagreement over the sharing of the loot and not so much as because the whistle blowers are being patriotic but more of vindictive. If they cannot get their expected share, then they would rather spoil the pot for the others because of greed.
This is not to paint a grim picture but more a need to come to terms with reality.
One of the reasons corruption in Kenya has been so difficult to deal with is the fact that, unlike in many other countries the Kenyan version has evolved. It transcended from being an immoral act to now a culture and philosophy. For this reason treating it any other way fails the efforts to curtail it.
It is a way of life and in some cases considered a rite of passage (in political circles); meaning that understanding these precepts is not an option if any fight against corruption in Kenya is to gain any level of traction.
Small Fish or Whales?
The frustrations have led people to propose going for the small fish other than the whales. Even then, the later wield considerable clout and are in position to alter outcomes.
On the 16th December, Isaac Masidza, in the Daily Nation p. 13 wrote an article titled “Let’s start with the small fish”, probably out of frustration. Truth is, with or without the small fry corruption still thrives as they only partake of the crumbs…
Personalities no less than the President Uhuru Kenyatta, the Vice President, William Ruto, have come out publicly and added their voice to stamping out of corruption, with sadly limited effect.
Funny thing is the corrupt do not so much as need the money they embezzle. Nevertheless, they are in part prompted by the culture, it is like some form of worship. When you go to church as an instance, you carry an offering with you. The faithful do not wait to be told they know it, kind of ritual that has to be lived up to.
Many times people will offer a bribe even when there is nothing wrong they have no wrong. However comical, strange, or even crazy as it may seem it is a common occurrence; well, call it bribing forward.
The giver of the bribe is seen to being subservient and keeps them in the good graces of the recipient. It qualifies them for leniency when and if they do actually find themselves on the wrong side of the law, which in such a state can be anytime. Not forgetting, pacifying the figure ensuring time and again the mercies are renewed.
This can best be appreciated by the matatu (taxi) industry.
Outside of town, when they are flagged by a cop they drive by without stopping. To an innocent observer, this is misconstrued as impunity or defiance of the authority of the traffic police officer. The officer is not bothered and lets the act to go unabated.
What happens is the conductor drops a 50 Shillings note in passing the cop, who later picks up the cash at his/her convenience. The matatu continues plying the route and minimises the interruptions even if they have everything in order. In some places like Kisumu it is considered a road toll, pay up or else . . .
The cop lines their pockets and all is well between them. The other cops don’t raise a finger when this act is happening under their noses as they possibly share in the loot.
When the vehicle does stop, the driver places money in the fold of their Driving License and hands it to the cop. The cop collects it as part of the charade of checking the document and lets you move on. Not doing so posits you as defiant and they look for an excuse to keep you around until you succumb. Otherwise, you become a marked person/vehicle and god help that you do not end up on the wrong side as they will wring every possible juice out of you, and this is in form of money.
Stopping corruption in Kenya calls for earth moving proportions to eject it; the cop’s scandal is at the fringes, and a lot more goes on at higher levels. It is rumoured that bosses place quotas on subordinates and If not met, that spells trouble. They get moved to man spots that are not lucrative cash-cows. Therefore, it pays to toe the line.
With this in mind, we can appreciate that dealing with corruption with the present crop of peoples in place is a long shot and no better than a pipe dream.
It is not impossible, but what it demands for is very challenging and calls for the changing of the perceptions of the persons involved. Pity it is tough work to teach an old corrupt dog new tricks. The level and amount of work, time, and money that would go into it is not worth the returns on investment.
This is where the need for a paradigm shift comes in; the children of the nation.
The Youth are Kenya’s promise
Jeremiah Kiplang’at sets that crystal clear in the Daily Nation of December 16th p.6, when he presents that Young MPs exceled in the House service. They bested their elderly counterparts, so yes, without dispute the youth managed well are more than just our promise and hope.
University students are a good place to start. They are ambitious and with the right kind of motivation, they would quickly fall into place. The challenge is many of them have by now had their brush with corruption and seen first-hand how it smoothens things, it is a fruit that is very HARD to walk away from. Forbidden fruit is known to taste lovelier than the same fruit with open access.
This is where the primary and high school students come in. They may hear of corruption, but are far from individually interacting with it; a prototype to be fashioned after the heart of the designer.
Youth are bound to be more receptive in the stance against corruption once educated on and about the ills of corruption. It is through them that this culture can be broken, with an unconventional ethos. Gradually effecting change as the movement becomes the status quo.
No it is not, not even by Kenya standards.
The ideal would be to have an anti-corruption component in the school’s curriculum. As it stands, this is more of a tall order. However, this situation can be mitigated by having the students form clubs through which they can work, learn, and further develop these precepts. Through the clubs, they can be trained and involved and promote anti-corruption wholly.
Activities as debates, essay competitions, drafting of legal laws, and etcetera allow them to learn and appreciate the evils of corruption and how to deal with them.
Equipping them with more than just knowledge and facts and armed with the tools to curb the vice from various activities. They shall make for articulate, legislative, knowledgeable individuals and most of all not a part of the cultural flow of corruption.
Children for corruption fight
What can children do for their countries to curb corruption?
Adults tend to underestimate children way too much. There are plenty of examples of to go round of children contributing in the fight against corruption. It is just that they do not get enough publicity.
Mentor Kenya has chosen to stand out and influence the young populace to free Kenya from the vice grip of the vice.