You try your best not to contribute to the corruption within the system, telling yourself that change starts with you. Then your life comes to a standstill because you have refused to part with $40 in order to gain a bigger return. The bureaucracy in Kenya is mind blowing. Police stop you for speeding, ask for $20 – $40, and you weigh your options – pay that small amount now OR go to court and get charged $400. You meekly hand over your $20. I have been waiting for my Identification Card to get processed for well over a month. My life is on hold – I cannot get paid, I cannot register for my tax deductions, pension etc because my ID has not been released. I had to jump through hoops upon application, because they had to ‘verify’ that I was Kenyan. I have been Kenyan since before I was born. But I had to stand there and explain why I was Kenyan. Why I have never had an ID but I have travelled extensively under my Kenyan passport. They nodded. Checked my BCG scar. Seemed satisfied. Stamped my papers. I got fingerprinted and photographed. Then my registration stayed on someone’s desk for 3 weeks.
Meanwhile, my employer cannot legally pay me because I have no ID, no tax pin (equivalent of a social security number) and they cannot pay and hold onto the deductions – ILLEGAL.
So we are stuck. And the system, which people claim has become so much better…since it’s ‘digital’ and ‘new age’, continues to let me down. What hasn’t changed is the number of hands being held outstretched, waiting to be greased. It’s frustrating to think that you try your best not to further contribute to the rot in the system, but circumstances force you to lower yourself onto those lowest of low echelons of rot.
They always say something should change, change should begin with you, corruption is evil…but what do you do when your back is against the wall?
In a place where we have an established Anti Corruption Authority, an ‘INTEGRITY’ Center, how do we, at the ground level, fight this scourge? Sometimes it’s a matter of focusing on the bigger picture…
But at what cost?