Preaching Water and Drinking Wine

At 11:14 A.M today, I spotted the ancient art of bribery taking place. I didn’t get the opportunity to spot the identification numbers of the policemen and women who were very busy siphoning money out of public transport vehicles. Plus I really did not fancy a lengthy court battle against people licensed and allowed by the law to carry guns and discharge them in public. I’m not going to stand on my soapbox and hurl fire and brimstone at the officers concerned. As wrong as the act I witnessed today is, there is more than meets the eye here.

Valéry looks for a way to pay the bribe demanded by the border guard.
CC image courtesy of Thomas Williams/Crossroads Foundation Ltd on Flickr

There is no way those traffic police would be that bold without having some sort of backing or go ahead from the big guys back at the police station. In fact, it is my belief that they don’t get a lot of the money they get while out in the blistering sun. A huge cut will most definitely go to their bosses and superiors, which just makes them more eager to squeeze everything they can out of us. The next time I listen to the top officials in the police department talking about their determination to get rid of corruption, I’ll take it with a grain of salt and pepper.

Corruption is so deeply embedded and rooted in our society that excising it will take more than a government institution.

It’ll take more than one presidential candidate promising to get rid of corruption. Corruption is everywhere on the face of this earth. The more developed the country is, the more sophisticated and secretive the corruption is. The less developed a country is, the bolder and more open the disease of corruption is. As such, no one should stand on their pedestals and act with self righteous indignation. This is something that affects us all.

These police men and women will overlook cars that should have been kicked out of the road a long time ago just because the owner of the vehicle pays his (or her) dues on time. In the end, you and I will be the people to bear the brunt of this massive neglect of duty when the vehicle is involved in an accident. We might end up paying the ultimate price.

Corruption box
CC image courtesy of watchsmart on Flickr

This is not the only act of corruption taking place at this very moment. There are other even more sinister deals being worked out even as you read this. I was able to see this one act taking place due to the fact that traffic police have nowhere else to practice this ancient art. The road is their office. What about the closed doors of the all powerful politician? What goes on in those lush offices with the air conditioning and state of the art furniture all courtesy of the tax payer? I shudder to think of the trillions of shillings we have lost due to what goes on in government offices. It frightens me to think of the injustices that have been meted out just because someone somewhere wanted fast and easy money.

If you listen to them speaking in public, you’d think that they were upright and that they had the interests of the public at heart. If you have never heard of preaching water and drinking wine, at least now you have. The police men and women manning our roads will continue doing what they do best. Take one out and five more will be put in their place. They are not the people we should be going for. Let us forget about frying small fish; they’ll always be there. Let us go for the big fish. Take two or three out and everyone gets the message. However, don’t expect the culture of corruption to stop. People will only go back to the drawing board and devise other methods of fleecing public coffers.

I also tend to like the policeman more than the thief and the robber.More than the murderer and the rapist.  Nine times out of ten. If only some of them weren’t so rotten. If only the term ‘rogue officer’ never had to formed.

I believe there’s more to this than meets the eye. There are deep seated issues that need to be addressed if we are ever to slay the ghost of corruption. Waging a holy war on bribery will only make the people involved more careful. Addressing the issues that make bribery necessary will however help to make that bribe irrelevant.

I won’t stand on a pedestal and condemn the people giving and receiving bribes. Each has their own story to tell, and only God is the rightful judge. I’ll only commit myself to saying that preaching water and drinking wine has become a way of life in Kenya and the world at large. I’ll never listen to a politician again without taking everything said with a truckload of salt and pepper to boot.


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