You need no telling how wide and far-reaching corruption is in the country, after all, the media reports it daily.
Mind-boggling shameless thefts amounting to billions of shillings. As I write this, the headline story on the ‘Nation’ reads, ‘EACC goes for former Moi aide in Sh2.5bn case’.
But stories of corruption in our motherland don’t always involve billions, many of them involve petty thefts, unnecessary morally wrong thefts that point to just how corruptible we are as a people, even when the gain is negligible, money that will not change the quality of your life in any way. I got thinking about this when a friend recounted a story that brought to the fore my naivety when it comes to issues to do with morality.
Her sister belongs to a chama where members regularly contribute money that funds their various social gatherings, such as out-of-town drives, birthdays and the like.
Recently, one of them died in a road accident, and as happens within such groups, members were asked to contribute money that was to go towards the funeral expenses. This friend’s sister was appointed treasurer. She would collect the money on behalf of other members and send it to the committee planning the funeral.
Paying school fees
Being a generous group, and buoyed by the good times they had had with their departed friend, they did not hold back. When the contribution window was closed, they had raised a whopping Sh200,000 and some change.
I use the word ‘whopping’ because the battering we’ve been receiving from the economy for several months now has been so merciless and unrelenting such that if you have money to spare after paying school fees, buying food and paying the heap of monthly bills that await you, you can claim to belong to the privileged rich Kenyans’ club, and no one will challenge you.
But I digress. On the day this friend’s sister was to send the money, she got a call from one of the chama members, whom they referred to as ‘Chairman’ because he was the pioneer of the group. He instructed her not to send the money until he and other members met with her that evening. She was puzzled, but didn’t give the matter much thought.
At the appointed time, Chairman turned up with six members, and to cut a long story short, instructed her to send only Sh60, 000 to the funeral planning committee. They explained to the shocked treasurer that some of the money would end up being “eaten” by the committee anyway, so it would not be of any benefit to the man’s family.
If anything, the chama committee, (Chairman and his gang), were planning a seating that would arrange how members would travel to the man’s ushago for his burial, and the remaining money would go towards footing the various bills that would be incurred during the trip.
Appalled, the treasurer informed them that she would not be party to the theft they were suggesting, that her conscience would not allow her to. If they believed that the funeral committee would “eat” the money, she suggested, then they should instead send it to the man’s wife, this way, his family would directly benefit.
But they would not relent, forcing her to send the money to Chairman, who disbursed it the way he saw fit.
Obviously, not even tragedy comes in the way of a dishonest person. It is also clear that corruption starts small. Imagine if Chairman and his cronies were to be appointed to plum positions in the government - if they can steal such ‘small, small’ money from the dead, wouldn’t they rob this country to the core?
The writer is editor, Society and Magazines, Daily Nation. Email: cnjunge@ ke.nationmedia.com