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