To put Kenya on right footing, we must stop idolising corrupt people

Every morning, I wake up to the same news: Another breaking story of greed and high-level corruption. Indeed, my mind, body, and spirit are lost in this raw human nature exhibited by most of our thieving leaders.

Of course, I appreciate that everyone’s defence is the best defence. But I ask myself, where are the shared truths and values – generosity, goodness, fairness and equality? Is rampant greed making us ignore the pursuit of happiness?

There is so much back and forth in our country that it is difficult to get through our crisis-oriented day-to-day issues: Theft of resources by those in charge them, food insecurity, poverty, and hopelessness.

In short, greed is slowly but surely becoming the order of the day, permeating Kenyan life and taking us down the wrong road as we all watch.

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Unfortunately, we have created a situation and now live in a culture in which the rich are valued more than the poor and vulnerable in the society. And this is fuelling the problem further: More greed, more corruption, hatred and selfishness.

Truth be told, well-to-do people are more sought after to serve in high positions in our social-political culture. Those we see as having money and living a good life are considered to have wisdom. It is very sad that the rich seem to be more believable in law courts than the poor.

And this is why fighting corruption has become more difficult than before since the corrupt are able to hire as many good lawyers and defenders (including the youth who shout the loudest in their defence), and the results are clear; cartels have simply taken over.

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Amass wealth

Because of this rat race and mental attitude, many now think that amassing wealth is the business of life. These kind of people steal from government coffers to make themselves rich and could kill others to acquire wealth.

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Many leaders now vie for office to amass wealth.

The litany of scandals in large multi-million shilling projects in Kenya are sickening.

It is unfortunate to live in a society that constantly celebrates having more, but rarely celebrates having enough.

A culture where people keep craving for more money, food, clothing — bigger servings, houses, and chunks of ill-gotten land.

We have reached a point in Kenya where having more usually seems to outweigh being satisfied with enough; finding sustainability to live on comfortably.

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And we have a fairly absurd caricature of that culture of greed: People with 50 pairs of shoes in their closets, those who drive luxury vehicles and don expensive jewelry you are sure they cannot afford with their measely pay.  Even in matters of love nowadays, they say; more money, more love.

Monumental proportions

Perfecting a culture that sanctifies belief that more is better; acquisition is the goal of life, and that having a lot makes one happy is unfortunate.

This explains why some leaders and the corrupt can sell their staggering ideology of greed to the public, through public show-offs, because a large part of the public already buys into the belief that greed is good and having a lot makes one happy. Our children are watching and learning fast.

This is why the individual pursuit of prosperity; the self-made man, the success story, is one all too familiar. In short, the so-called rags-to-riches meritocratic bootstrapping associated with moneybags is also related to some scandals of monumental proportions.

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And when you look left, right or at your television screen, you see it all. This is because, one person’s freedom to pursue property or power soon infringes upon principles of social justice and democratic equality.

These false standards are leading people astray. Kenyans need to embrace values of sustainability and moderation rather than greed and consumption. We need to learn to be satisfied with enough rather than desire more and more.

If people really want change — the change that will make a difference is moving away from the odius culture of greed that Kenyans have built over time. We need a culture that recognises a large, well-educated middle class as the most important pillar to a stable, happy and sustainable society.

Certainly, our culture should focus on how to stop bad and corrupt multimillionaires from amassing more and more as this greed fuels other challenges. Otherwise, that may as well become our gross national product.

Prof. Mogambi, Communication and Social Change Expert, teaches at the University of Nairobi.hmogambi @ yahoo.co.uk

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