For a long time I laboured under the delusion that most Kenyans want to eradicate corruption. It was only recently that I came to see that people actually long for corruption’s illicit fruits – if they or someone near them can benefit.
There’s a new normal in town.
This realization has finally led me to write a poem. I am not often moved to write poetry, and I am sure I am not as good at it as I used to be. But here goes:
For a long time I thought
That no one had bought
The lies and untruths of corruption
But now I can see
That the lure of things free
Has led to a widespread deception:
That it’s wrong when it’s he
But right when it’s me
Or someone of kindred extraction;
“My people and I”
May now justify
All manner of cruel exploitation.
Wrong is now right!
Black’s the new white!
(So long as my tribesmate has done it)
Darkness is light!
The unrighteous upright –
An appointment? My clansman can run it!
But – some feeling stirs
When it’s not one of ours
And with a colossal log in each eye
We point the long finger
Let our mutterings linger
Then we open our mouths and let fly:
“Politicians!” we shout
“The larcenous louts –
They’re the cause of our nation’s downfall!”
I bring us a mirror
Let’s see ourselves clearer:
There’s politician inside of us all.
The truth should be plain:
That nobody gains!
When our nation is chock full of theft
Tis but a matter of time
‘Til fraud, vice and crime
Cause collapse, and there’s nothing left
It’s time someone said
Enough blood’s been bled
Enough of this cannibalization!
Let a nation stillborn
Become a people reborn
It’s time: for revitalization.
The day after I posted this poem I read this quote (edited slightly) which I thought explains how it all works quite succinctly:
“Corruption rarely begins with grandly named schemes. Rather, it starts with a series of minor compromises, small bows to the exigencies of reality. These capitulations add up, as do the number of other people with whom they are made. Favors are owed; logs are kept. This is the kind of corruption to watch out for.”