A short while back there was a video going around of young children standing at a school parade. In this moment, we could hear a teacher inquiring about the main characteristics of Kenya. One of the boys excitedly shouted his response, ‘Corruption’.
Kenya is known for corruption.”
The other pupils burst out in laughter in agreement with his assertion and also in amusement by his enthusiastic delivery.
It was however, a sobering moment for the adults who watched the clip. It was also uncomfortable for some of the public officials who had to accept that the narrative about Kenya and corruption had shaped even the perspective of little children about their country.
Sad as it is, this event is loaded with lessons for our benefit. First is that the future generations are watching and learning from us. It is true for children that they learn best not by what we say but by what we do. They pick up on the duplicities of our action when we say one thing about corruption and do the opposite. They pick up on the nuances when we speak boldly against theft but handle out tribesmen with kitten gloves. They also pick up on our double speak, when we say no to corruption but they see us paying bribes to traffic policemen when we pick and drop them from school.
Secondly, because they are fast learners, it is necessary that we impart in them the right skills at a tender age. Some anti-corruption agencies are already engaging the young ones in primary and secondary schools across the country. However, without consistency and sustainability, these programmes may not be as impactful as they should be in the long run. Perhaps there is need to have anti-corruption studies in the syllabus, demanding that it is a mandatory subject of study for the young Kenyans.
Third, is the need for introspection at the family and community level. What kind of country are we leaving for our young ones? What will they remember us for and at what point do we decide that corruption must come to an end for us.