The Holy Bible is pretty unequivocal about corruption. From Isaiah 1:4, who exclaimed, “Woe to the sinful nation, a people whose guilt is great, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption!” to Proverbs 29:2, which warns “When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan,” our scriptures are extremely clear about the perils of corrupt behaviour.
And so it is difficult to understand how in a predominantly Christian country such as ours, corruption has been allowed to fester. So pervasive has it become that even Church-going individuals, who are otherwise pious and god-fearing, have come to turn a blind eye when it comes to graft.
It is easy to blame the politicians. Too easy. For while it is true that corruption has been rife among our political class ever since independence, we should not use that as an alibi or excuse for our own behaviour.
Politicians do not come from outside our society. They are part of us, products of our society. And while it can be argued that their corrupt behaviour influences regular Kenyans, it is equally true that our conduct influences them. For in a corrupted society in which everyone is prepared to take or pay a small bribe without thinking much of it, what hope is there that our leaders will not act similarly but for bigger stakes.
We must all take responsibility for corruption and for our own actions. As it is written in Romans 14:10, “For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.”
If we therefore understand corruption as an ongoing, symbiotic interaction between politicians and wider society, then the answer to addressing it must also come from both sides. We require a shift in our popular culture that changes attitudes and sends a clear message to everyone in our society that corruption will no longer be tolerated. At the same time, we need a clear display of political will and strong leadership from the top. We need our President and government to show us that they are committed to rooting out corruption, whatever the political cost.
The good news is that in recent months, we have seen some signs of progress from both Kenyan society and our leadership.
On the grassroots level, there has been a definite shift over the past year with more and more people determined to say no to corruption. Whether it be increasingly vocal civil society organisations, anti-corruption groups on Facebook and WhatsApp, or merely individuals deciding not to pay a bribe, something is definitely happening.
The same can be said on a leadership level. Uhuru seems to be aware that he will never be able to fulfil his Big 4 vision for Kenya if corruption remains rampant, and if he fails to do so, history will not judge him kindly.
And so he has made the fight against corruption a major feature of his second term. From high profile arrests and shaking up the anti-corruption bodies, to new laws and practices to empower those fighting against graft, it seems not a week goes by without another big announcement in the fight against corruption.
But the biggest shift has been in his rhetoric. Uhuru has sent a clear signal to both government ministers and the broader public that corruption will no longer be tolerated, even going as far as to compare corruption to colonialism in its corrosive effects. Our society was crying out for strong and uncompromising leadership in the battle against graft, and that is what Uhuru has provided us with since his re-election.
Of course, we cannot afford to rely on Uhuru’s leadership. Each Kenyan must take it upon him or herself to rid our nation of this cancer. We must say no to bribes, no to extortion and no to preferential treatment for members of our tribe, family and friends. And if we all make an effort, combined with Uhuru’s renewed vigour, perhaps Kenyans can finally look forward towards a corruption-free future.
For a god-fearing nation, this is something we should all commit to.
Let us remember our faith and root out corruption.