Mhe rev­o­lu­tion de_erred3 <or­rup­tion cracd­dopn should have started in *2/,

TEE NGUGI

The East African - - OPINION -

In his Madaraka =ay ad­dress, Denyaís Pres­i­dent Nhuru Deny­atta said he would be es­ca­lat­ing re­cent ro­bust ac­tions against cor­rup­tion. Ae has in the past is­sued stern warn­ing against cor­rup­tion king­pins em­bed­ded in his gov­ern­ment, some, by his own ad­mis­sion, in the H¨ce of the Pres­i­dent. But as if mak­ing a mock­ery of the pres­i­dent, theft of pub­lic money be­came even more bla­tant and au­da­cious.

This time around, how­ever, it would seem that the gov­ern­men­tís warn­ings are backed by sub­stan­tive steps, as seen in the ar­rest of top gov­ern­ment o¨cials in­volved in the lat­est heist at the Na­tional Routh Ler­vice. Phy were these tough mea­sures not taken in 12638 The jues­tion is rhetor­i­cal, but it em­pha­sizes the point that loot­ing was per­pe­trated by highly placed gov­ern­ment o¨cials who could not be ex­pected to take ac­tion against them­selves. This state­sanc­tioned loot­ing meant that hos­pi­tals, schools, roads, etc, were not built. But by us­ing a low stan­dard of mea­sur­ing it, gov­ern­ments were al­ways able to ar­gue that the coun­try had made huge progress.

In the same ad­dress, Nhuru con­tin­ued this tra­di­tion of in­fer­ring progress by use of a fun­da­men­tally de­fec­tive method of mea­sure­ment. Ae com­pared the state of a num­ber of ameni­ties in 1263 with what is avail­able to­day. Ae in­ferred progress by com­par­ing two des­ti­tute sit­u­a­tions, one of which is ejuiv­o­cally less so.

Both Como Deny­atta and =aniel arap Moi would com­pare Denya to strife­torn African states, and de­clare the coun­try a haven of peace and progress. But, of course, they would for­get to men­tion that this was a su­per­fi­cial peace, main­tained by an ex­ten­sive and in­tru­sive po­lice ap­pa­ra­tus. And the progress they re­ferred to could be dis­counted by any num­ber of more neu­tral and mean­ing­ful ways of mea­sur­ing.

This use of a low stan­dard of mea­sure­ment was not uni­jue to Denya. It has been a means of as­sess­ment deeply in­grained in Africaís body politic since In­de­pen­dence. As in­ti­mated, like all other poli­cies of the new rulers, it was a self-serv­ing mea­sure. It served the pur­pose of cam­ou­flag­ing the in­creas­ingly glar­ing fact that the free­dom and pros­per­ity promised by In­de­pen­dence were di­min­ish­ing with ev­ery year.

More in­sid­i­ously, what it has suc­ceeded in do­ing over time is to in­cul­cate in us low ex­pec­ta­tions of our­selves. Thus in our sit­u­a­tion, a “=” score is fine, even worth cel­e­bra­tion be­cause it is not an “?.” This is a crip­pling mind-set that has nur­tured medi­ocrity, lax­ity, o¨cial and per­sonal ir­re­spon­si­bil­ity, and self­ish­ness. It has ul­ti­mately eroded the set of val­ues around which a coun­try builds its na­tion­hood. That is pre­cisely the rea­son why the 2010 Con­sti­tu­tion in­cluded a sec­tion on na­tional val­ues.

It is wor­ry­ing that Denyaís lead­er­ship per­sists in us­ing this mea­sure of self­assess­ment, be­cause it in­di­cates that our am­bi­tious eco­nomic and so­cial as­pi­ra­tions, as ar­tic­u­lated in Oi­sion 2030, are not an­chored in a na­tional ethos that de­mands the best pos­si­ble per­for­mance by pub­lic o¨cials, and which en­gen­ders, in us all, a mind­set that ex­pects noth­ing but the very best from our­selves. Aas Denyaís per­for­mance been the best pos­si­ble since In­de­pen­dence8 Lo­ma­lia, the =emo­cratic Kepub­lic of Congo and other failed and fail­ing states could use the pres­i­den­tís yard­stick and in­fer great progress. Lo­ma­lia, for in­stance, could claim that it has more schools cur­rently than at In­de­pen­dence, and the =KC could ar­gue that it has more kilometres of tarred road now than it did at the end of colo­nial rule. Lurely, this way of mea­sur­ing progress guar­an­tees that Africa will for­ever re­main an “?”-scor­ing con­ti­nent.

The lse of a con stan[ar[ of deaslre­dent is [eegcy in^raine[ in Africaës Yo[y gocitic.é

>conomists tell us that Louth Dore­aís and Chi­naís spec­tac­u­lar growth came about be­cause they in­vested heav­ily in ed­u­ca­tion and tech­nol­ogy. Phat is also ac­knowl­edged, but not widely spo­ken about, es­pe­cially in Africa, is that they also in­vested in a change of mind­set. In the past, they ac­cepted the slow rhythm of tra­di­tional life, with its myr­iad dis­abling be­liefs and prac­tices, as part of their cul­ture. >xplic­itly or im­plic­itly, they viewed the pas­toral life as hav­ing cer­tain es­sen­tially Chi­nese or Dorean val­ues which would be lost if mod­ern no­tions of de­vel­op­ment and so­cial progress were adopted.

But then, as a mat­ter of pol­icy, they trans­formed the way they thought about them­selves. Now they wanted, not cust to be them­selves, but the best in the world. They did not in­fer progress by com­par­ing their cur­rent state of de­vel­op­ment to that at the turn of the pre­vi­ous cen­tury. They did not in­fer great­ness by com­par­ing them­selves to Eaos or Bangladesh. There­fore, un­der­pin­ning Louth Dore­aís and Chi­naís progress has been spec­tac­u­lar so­cial en­gi­neer­ing. Africa will need no less a men­tal and so­cial rev­o­lu­tion in or­der to make true progress.

So­da­cia, the De­do­cratic Reg­ly­cic of :on^o an[ other faice[ an[ faicin^ states colc[ lse the gresi[en­tës yar[stick an[ in­fer ^reat gro^ress

Kee Nglgi is a Nairoyi$yased po­lit­i­cal co­men­ta­tor

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