It’s the duty of the youth to challenge corruption28th Jan, 2016
Whichever way you look at it, corruption is crowding Kenya’s shining star, threatening the possibility of a better life for the young generation and future ones. Corruption is one of the greatest evils that shakes the backbone of any society. More than a matter of need, corruption has become a subculture, a common practice and a necessary evil, at least to some people. Faced with this trouble people have grown used to it, it is part of everyday life. That’s the reality but it has to change. If this evil is eradicated from the society, the greatest threat to development is over.
Corruption takes birth in a society when its citizens fail to believe that the nation is a common property of all its citizens and the generation yet to come. Every situation, where you leave truth, you are giving birth to corruption, no matter how simple or how complicated is the matter.
The recent anti-corruption crusade by President Uhuru Kenyatta has sparked a flurry of activity as Kenyans increasingly come to the realization that corruption is indeed a retrogressive conduct that needs to be fought with all our energies. As attention shifts to how to slay the dragon that is corruption among the public and the private sector, individuals like Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore and I went ahead to publicly declare our wealth in what we believe is the only sure way of boosting the confidence and pushing for transparency in the fight against this vice.
Growing up, I was always inspired by the spirit of hard work and belief in self-drive. It is this kind of motivation that has seen me climb the corporate ladder and be one of the few people who have become C.E.O before hitting 40 years. Mine is a story of resilience and focus that I hope to inspire in young people who believe that one can only succeed through payment of bribes.
It is no doubt that corruption has become our cancer. Left untreated for so long, it has grown like a tumor spreading through the body of our society and tearing at and eating away the muscle and tissue of a nation. Left unattended, it has spread to the far reaches of our country, directly and indirectly affecting many sectors of society, regardless of age and religion, social status or gender. And whether one is directly participating in it and involved in its machinations or one is merely victimized by its effects, it has become a blight on us all.
Youth participation is vital
Engaging youth is essential for success in curbing corruption. This is because the youth represent a significant portion of the population and are generally more open to social change and political transformation, since they may have less interest in maintaining the status quo.
In addition to representing a significant part of the population, young people tend to be more exposed to bribery and therefore particularly vulnerable to corruption, as they are involved in almost every aspect of society – as students, pupils, workers, customers and citizens. According to Transparency International’s (TI) Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) 2013, 27 per cent of people under the age of 30 paid a bribe worldwide that year.
Against this backdrop, youth can play a pivotal role in the fight against corruption. Young people are an integral element for the success of a cultural change in attitudes and behaviour towards corruption and in the shaping of the values of tomorrow, since they represent the future of their countries. Empowering the youth to refuse corruption is a pre-condition to enable them to act as leaders in their communities and workplaces, both in resisting corruption and promoting good governance practices.
Leaders of tomorrow
The nation belongs to its youth. They are the makers of tomorrow. What they do today will reflect in the society tomorrow. To live in a society that is corruption free, we need people with high quality of mind and thoughts. If those people come forward to build a strong nation, our dream of a corruption free society is never far away.
With Kenyan youths below the age of 34 accounting for more than 75 per cent of the total population, there is a lot that this huge proportion, could contribute to our nation. It is ultimately the question of building national character which is nothing but the collective awareness combined with braveness. It is the keystone on which rests the fate and future of our public affairs, not this or that ‘ism’”. The youth has to contribute in a greater way in building national character through personal integrity.
The youth has to raise at their personal level in the fight against corruption, as it is a matter of individual’s integrity. It is said that integrity requires three steps: “discerning what is right and what is wrong; acting on what you have discerned, even at personal cost; and saying openly that you are acting on your understanding of right from wrong.” In fact, integrity is being regarded as distinct from honesty.
The next contribution that should come from the youth in the fight against corruption is at their professional level, immaterial whether they take up a job or entrepreneurship. The youth should not allow themselves to become a money making machine. They should become leaders through their right action.
Kenya will only be built by the willingness of Kenyans and that will have to be informed by deliberate decisions towards greater transparency. The private sector has committed to be at the forefront in the fight against corruption. To be meaningful, this commitment on the private sector side must go beyond the companies pledging not to pay bribes. The next logical and necessary step is for them to implement internal policies, procedures, and mechanisms to ensure that the risk of improper payments is minimized.
Therefore, it is up to the youth to look up for the role models and derive inspiration and keep their heads high. They should have higher ideals in life which go beyond the self-centred boundary and the precinct of the narrow mind. The higher the goal, the greater the potency in action and fruitful results rather than those of lower ideals towards accumulation of wealth and indulgence in earthly pleasure. This is the first and foremost step the youth have to take in the fight against corruption at their personal level.
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