Today I want to talk about one of our greatest problems that seem to be intertwined together. These are individualism and corruption. From common knowledge, we know these two are barely related. However, it flows from reason that, if a person is very individualistic, that person can go to great lengths to achieve their goal; even if it means trampling on other individuals to get there. Thus, where a whole state is comprised of a generally individualistic citizens, that state is bound to be plagued with many issues among them corruption and nepotism. Before we can ponder over the situation, here is a short story.
It has been said that necessity is the mother of invention. I am a true believer of this saying. Over the course of time, it has been recorded that some of the greatest of inventions have been created out of sheer necessity.
This general idea can be illustrated using several practical examples. Fire had been discovered by cavemen totally by accident. When our ancestors however discovered its properties and uses, they strived to keep the fire alive and even made more of it. Another more recent invention that came about was the home heating unit found in houses especially beyond the tropics in Europe and the Americas. The presence of winter cold necessitated the invention of something that would keep people warm in their homes.
Various other inventions have been made as a result of the various necessities we as humans have had. Frome the fridge to the microwave, our innovation has helped us solve many of the problems we face. But why? Why do I state that about inventions of the past and the present? What has it to do with our Kenyan situation?
The answer is simple, corruption is a problem. Nepotism is a problem. Individualism especially in these modern times is a problem. And where there is a problem there comes a necessity. A necessity to eradicate the problem. If there is a necessity, isn’t there a push to innovate a method or thing to solve the problem? Then why aren’t we as Kenyans trying to solve our problem?
One reason could be historical. As Kenyans, we have lived within the tropics. The climate here is not demanding and as a result, we have never been forced to solve problems such as winter cold. This over time has created a lax and complacent people who would rather tolerate a problem than solve it. Another reason can be we still haven’t realised that these are problems. We are still to realise that there is a need to eradicate corruption. We are still to realise that there is a need to remove individualism from our hearts. Then the question comes, how do we make ourselves the Kenyans realise the necessity? How do we create the major awareness that seems lacking amongst our people?
An answer would be to run several anti-corruption campaigns and punish offenders. I however refuse to endorse such a strategy because it is already in play and change is still not forthcoming. I therefore turn back to the history of what we now call the first world states. In each of these states, there was a time in their history when their citizens faced a time of serous corruption. Also, they all seem to have faced a major event or calamity that woke them up and compelled them to care for their country, end individualism, corruption and other vices in the interest of the state. Usually the event would be a war, a civil war or some big calamity that would bring state to its knees.
Back in Kenya, we are used to our corrupt way of life. As a result, I came to the logical conclusion that, if we were to stop corruption, a big event that shakes the nation would have to occur first. The recent Westgate Mall attacks that occurred on the 21st of September were just a warm up. It shook the nation and taunted Kenyans to become serious as well as managed to expose a large gap in our security that existed as a result of corruption. A few heads even rolled which was a sign of seriousness beginning. But, the event wasn’t enough. I say this more as a suggestion. If we are to wake up, war must erupt. If not war, another major event ought to occur..this may be the long awaited medicine to our disease. Not as Kikuyus or Kalenjins, but as Kenyans together united. The days of individualism will have gone with the smoke of the gunshots in the wind never to return.
Raymond Kibowen (19)