Is it in our DNA?

“Corruption is a virus that invades our social fabric (genome) erodes our values (immune cells) and ultimate thwarts any efforts at development (compromise our health).”

Corruption has been in our societies for a long time but in all sincerity our war against this vice has been partisan. Instead of acknowledging that we have an enemy we have been abating among us, we are quick to point fingers but not really with any redress measures in place. In the past two (2) weeks the level of impunity that we’ve been made aware of from the premier government agency responsible for procurement and distribution of medicines, health products and technologies have been appalling. At times one may wish to not exist in this timeline but upon birth we have only one option, to live till we die. In the meantime, I feel it’s in my best interest and that of the society to address this scourge in our midst.

As part of the programs I run, I host a weekly Health Round Up – virtual discussion on topical health matters that affect access to and uptake of healthcare services in the country with an angle on what it means to the common Kenyan. Last week our topic of discussion was: “A Vaccine for Corruption in Healthcare.” You can find the recording here. Following the airing of the investigation on KEMSA and Corruption that have marred the countries response to COVID-19, #Covid19Millionaires, the public have been out in different platforms expressing their outrage on the whole matter. I am confident it’s deserved but then I also think it’s the mess of the entire society, me included. Don’t feel accused just yet.

When you people complain in the public forums we are saints and condemning corruption in all its forms. On the contrary when in our safe havens, we are seeking knowledge on how we can be on the other side of the scheme i.e. be beneficiaries instead of victims. Is it really the solution we need? It’s an entire mess because as a society majority of us have a common notion that to be successful you must do “deals” which is a cool term for corrupting your way through the system. It’s improper.

Through this whole situation, I was drawn back to an earlier discussion I had with a friend on the subject where we questioned our moral authority to point fingers at perpetrators when our entire livelihoods have been financed by corruption. A parent gets their child to a high ranking school because of either their connections with the Principal or bribing their way around it. In the days I was in High School you’d hear some students bragging about their fathers knowing people or having the power to influence systems. At that time I didn’t know much about how this could happen but later got to comprehend that it’s something that is part of our existence as a society. In such a situation the chances of such a parent holding their children accountable and to higher moral ground is akin to passing a death sentence on oneself. It then nurtures the vice as the child grows knowing that’s how things work and should be working. Ultimately, we are all screwed. This is why I perceive corruption as a virus that’s deeply embedded in our DNA (social fabric).

In the fight against a virus, it’s always to either suppress it’s growth by killing infected cells, preventing it’s multiplication and most importantly vaccinating others if there’s a vaccine so that we don’t have more people contracting the virus. In our case I believe a rethink of our social values is key to weed out corruption. As a society we need to get to reroute and find a way to nurture morally upright individuals rooted on values. With this in place, fewer corrupt individuals will be out there who can then be uprooted through effective judicial systems and robust public prosecution agencies.

From all the clamor that’s going on it’s superficial sanitization of the whole corruption process with more people drooling for proceeds of corruption, paralyzed judicial & anti-corruption agencies, society devoid of values and worst of all, leadership deficit in the entire system from Presidency to the household level.

“A vice is as bad as how widespread it is.”

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