Why Malawians are corrupt



What do you apply on your bald patch, face cream or hair oil? I’ve absolutely no idea. One can’t have an answer to every question. That’s life.

Yes, life.
A good friend of mine never tires of reminding me that life’s got a wicked knack for serving curved balls. One of mine is having a grey mop when my brother, who’s all of six years older, still sports black hair. Mind you, this is many years after mine was prematurely deserted by melanin.

Imagine!


Anyway, unlike my brother, most of my friends would also be ‘unproud’ owners of professorial  greys were it not for some bottled or tubed help. But, would you believe it, they still have the temerity to tease me about my greys. What cheek! I get my own back, though, by reminding them that were they to get long hospital admissions, they would be getting no visitors. Since the visitors would be looking for black haired patients, they would be passing by their beds without stopping, probably assuming that the patients they had intended to visit had been discharged.
Incidentally, these days I religiously trim my hair to the scalp. Not that I’ve a head shaped for baldness. But hey, it’s either that or greyness in its full glory.

If only the Malawi government were as religious in trimming corruption …

Yes, corruption is the seemingly malignant cancer that permeates every facet of Malawian society. If you want something, you’ve to cough up that extra amount on top of the legal fees. Birth certificates. Passports. Company registrations. Driving Licenses. Plot of lands. Certificates of Fitness. Contracts. Almost everything you can think of can be had but for a fee.

Sometimes I feel the government shouldn’t be paying the people who work in the departments responsible for producing these documents. In practice these corrupt souls are self-employed. They don’t work for the government despite the salaries they receive, do they? If anything, the government should be charging them rent for the furnished office space it provides them. As for the special stationery which is required for the issuance of the ‘papers’, the wretched should be buying them from Government Print. Hey, their businesses requires input, no?

For years I used think poor salaries contributed to our culture of corruption. But I recently had a Eureka moment.  It then occurred to me in brilliant Technicolor that we’re coopted into corruption very early into our childhoods.
I can see your faces knitting the question, ‘How?’

Well, how do we get a child to eat? Or bath? Or go to school on a particularly cold winter day. Indeed how do we get kids to do any task that they aren’t particularly keen on?
Yes, we bribe them with offers of treats! If you bath, I’ll buy you a toy. If you eat, I’ll let you watch Ben 10. If you go to school, I’ll buy you that toy you’ve been bothering me about.

Always if this, then that. A whole series of bribes gets dangled before our children and before we know it, it becomes inculcated into their psyche as they morph into adults. They end up being adults who can’t do anything without an offer of something in return.