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A thief is a thief whether he steals a diamond or a cucumber.
— An Indian Proverb
The noun ‘Corruption’ comes from the word ‘corrupt’. The latter is derived from the amalgamation of two Latin words – ‘cor-‘ meaning ‘altogether’ + ‘rumpere’ meaning ‘to break’. From the two words came ‘corrumpere’ meaning ‘mar, bribe, destroy’.
The past participle of the word ‘corrumpere’ is corruptus. It is from the latter that we got the word ‘corrupt’ and by extension, ‘corruption’.
So if we deem any society corrupt, then something about that society is broken or the whole society is broken. More often than not, it is the sense of right and wrong that is defective. It is the very moral code that is broken. It could be the legal system. These defects express themselves in acts that ultimately merit the description of “corrupt”.
Ask most Ghanaians what ails the nation and the majority will point to corruption as the greatest ill.
So how does Ghana exhibit it’s brokenness?
Well, we plunder. We pillage. We pilfer. WE STEAL.
We take that, that does not belong to us. WE STEAL.
You can seek to sugarcoat it anyway you want but what we do when we play the Game of Corruption is nothing but good old thievery.
The shenanigans with procurement, the inflated contracts, the hand-go-hand-come, the unnecessary trips for per diem, the bribes, backroom deals….those are all nothing but stealing.
We are a bunch of petty thieves and that is the hard and uncomfortable truth.
There are not many Ghanaians who have not indulged in this dastardly act and I must admit ashamedly that many years ago, I did too.
Unless we stop stealing, nothing will become of our nation.
Unless we stop pilfering from the public purse as well as the private ones, nothing of substance will grow in this land of ours.
We have stolen so much that it has become a habit and a way of life. It is so bad that one looks like an idiot if one does not loot as well. This bad habit has eaten its way into the very fabric of our society. So much so that we do not punish the flagrant ones anymore. We just throw the book at the petty thieves who may steal a goat or pick a pocket. However, the ones who steal millions garner our respect and admiration.
They may just get fired. Most of the time, the “Fa ma Nyame” mentality kicks in or respected ones in society plead for leniency on behalf of these thieves.
Like the French economist and author, Frédéric Bastiat wrote in his 1848 work titled “The Physiology of Plunder”:
“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”
That does sound familiar?
Don’t we all look like a bunch of pirates plundering?
In a country with more than 10,000 churches, why do we forget the 8th Commandment? It says:
THOU SHALL NOT STEAL
What are the pastors preaching about? Or are they also busy stealing from their congregants?
Maybe, when life is so harsh for the majority and survival is the most important task at hand, the ability to steal might be the most important quality in the jungle where only the fittest survive. We could debate that endlessly.
However, what about those who have and still steal? Well, somewhere along the line, greed sets in and the limits get blurry. That is wrong and not debatable.
Until we impress upon ourselves the values of honesty, truth, patience and discipline; until the greedy become temperate and the thief the protector of the public purse, we will wander the fields of this world aimlessly like a ship without a rudder.
In 2015, the Filipino politician, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, told her political opponents to stop worrying about the fact that she had lung cancer but rather to worry about a cancer that was afflicting their society. She said:
“The cancer that demands our urgent attention is corruption and poverty.”
Ghana has the same cancer and interestingly, they are more intertwined than most people realize. You see, if those at the helm of things stop playing the corruption game by not stealing, there might just be enough money to take care of the poor.
Now is that not an idea worth stealing?
By Nana Dadzie Ghansah