It is no longer shocking when the media breaks stories about corruption. And I mean corruption of gargantuan proportions! The reason is simple: we are used to it. We are so used to it that our sense of shock readily adjusts to accommodate every corruption scandal comfortably. I thank Providence for His infinite wisdom. Without it, our resource-deprived health facilities would be overwhelmed with heart attack cases.
But while we are happy to be spared heart attacks, it is agonisingly hopeless that many people have come to view it as “normal”, acceptable. Even though people can be heard on the media expressing outrage and condemning it in no uncertain terms (and sometimes in no uncertain proverbs), a deeper look reveals that such anger and condemnation constitute a window dressing, a façade of a people frustrated by corruption.
The point is that privately, people applaud corruption, engage in it, and are swift to remind others where they are. “This is Ghana oooh”, they remind the forgetful. They argue that corruption is so pervasive that it is impossible to avoid it. So on the one hand they agree corruption is damaging to a nation; on the other they believe it is unavoidable, inescapable.
But for every evil to thrive, a lie must be believed or, at worst, foisted on the minds of people. And a lie supported by fear works perfectly. The lie that without corruption one cannot succeed in Ghana has gained root. People believe, and live it. And why not? If thanks to corruption you can secure a plum job easier and faster, then why work hard? Some people actually go their way to give thanks to God in church for seeing them “through the job interview”. And in this era of recruitment fraudsters, can we blame them? But the only thing they ought to master is the art of hypocrisy. In other words, they must join in publicly condemning corruption, and cursing corrupt persons. Of course, privately they recant the curses, and they berate utopian idealist who believe the fight against corruption can succeed.
Evidence, however shows that corruption can be kept at the barest minimum, if not totally eliminated. Dealing with corruption means that it is the exception rather than the rule. Thankfully, this does not require crossing the Pacific Ocean on foot! It starts with a resolve not to practice it.
Ideally, the implementation of a “no corruption policy” must begin with politicians; they wield all the coercive power, and more importantly, their acts of corruption have far-reaching consequences than whoever is so unlucky to be referred to as “the average Ghanaian”. Yet they never fail to remind the electorate that the fight belongs to everybody. Little wonder that all the blood-curdling corruption scandals have their roots in political power. So the citizenry must constantly remind the politicians that it is part of their contract to lead the way in corruption.
In countries where politicians have risen “to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which are hallmarks of true leadership”, corruption has been made unattractive and unrewarding. Singapore readily comes to mind.
A Frafra proverb has it that a cobra does not sire a colurid snake. That is to say, a poisonous snake does not bring forth a nonvenomous snake. A corrupt generation does not reproduce an incorruptible generation. If we piously condemn corruption but engage brazenly in it, the next generation will do same, if not worse. To correct the system, an intelligent, right thinking generation like ours must rise up against corruption not just in words but in deeds.
What corruption does is that it makes a beautiful country like Ghana an ugly one; it makes it a third world country when others are first world; it makes people drink polluted water whiles their stolen money procures a luxury car for a “leader”; it makes people die in hospital for lack of medicine while the money is diverted for a shopping spree in London; it makes pupils sit under trees to learn while the money for their school building pays for a political rally; it makes sure that skilled unemployed youths vent their spleen by robbing passengers whiles their positions are occupied by unqualified persons “who have connections”… It ensures that in the end everybody loses.
But there is hope for Ghana. We can rid our country of corruption. It starts with the challenge of personal example. God bless Ghana.
Emmanuel Asakinaba Linguistics student, University of Ghana [email protected]
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