“An old woman is uneasy,” Chinua Achebe once wrote, “when dry bones are mentioned in a proverb.” You should; hence, understand why brutal murders of journalists, whether close to home or
Whether it’s Jamal Kashoggi, the Saudi Arabia former insider turned critical journalist, strangled to death and dismembered inside a Saudi consulate in Turkey, late last year or a Ghanaian investigative journalist, Ahmed Hussein-Suale being shot as he drove home this week, the media, activists, well-meaning citizens grieve—feeling haunted.
“Terror,” Indian-born American intellectual Arjun Appadurai wrote in his book Fear of Small Numbers, “is first of all terror of the next attack.” It’s always about the fear that it can happen again and; hence, send the other possible targets into submission.
But if journalism or civil society were to be silenced, what would become of our societies? Perhaps, sewer.
The stench of corruption, stagnation, poverty or human rights abuses would grow uninterrupted as corruption erodes rule of law, inequality widens while investor capital and donors free. A country becomes a failed state.
Of course, we are not a failed state, yet. We have a vibrant civil society, independent media and Judiciary. But all is being undermined, slowly, by corrosive cancer of corruption which is getting out hand by the day.
So, our systems have not completely collapsed yet, but may be on the way. It can also be reversed if right changes are made but right changes can only be made by right leaders. Not leaders who are complicit to the looting of the country; not leaders who have already demonstrated they are in politics for self-preservation.
Corruption getting worse is eerily good news for those already rich and connected. But out-of-hand inequality, is recipe for trouble although the elite think they have it all figured out; living in gated mansions, driving big posh cars, their children attending the best education available both at home and abroad, and their life expectancy a bit higher than the poor who are condemned to visiting perennially stinking, poorly funded public hospitals without adequate drugs nor personnel to tend them, since they can travel to any part of the globe for improved health service.
History warns us, the poor don’t tolerate the status quo for long. This toxic environment is breeding ground for revolutions.
Ras Chikomeni Chirwa presidential candidacy might look like a joke today but one day, another ‘People’s candidate’ will lead the charge against the established parties without attracting the memes and parody social media accounts that has engulfed the dreadlocked presidential candidate.
The ordinary folks will not always be blind to the theft of their billions out of Capital hill. They once punished the People’s Party for cashgate, they are not blind.
And yes, as people joked about Ras Chirwa, or debated whether UTM’s Winiko Kalindo—a comedian turned politician—recently released from police custody following his arrest for allegedly insulting the president (which is a pure stupid concept in a democracy), had indeed been beaten up by ruling party operatives as he claimed or had staged a stunt, silently, the battle for the country’s tax-money raged.
The looting of Capital Hill –in all manner of unscrupulous tradecraft— was not on a break. Bloated contracts, fake interest rates, as we saw during cashgate and other scams, fake contracts with neither supplies nor services delivered, are all part of the playbook—and in play.
For it all to succeed, you must have a leadership in government which is either corrupt or out of touch. And in a democracy, the only way the thieving cabals can be interrupted is to elect leaders with integrity. Not leaders already caught their hands in the jar.
But as the shooting of the Ghanain journalist reminds us, those stealing from us don’t give up power easily. Neither do they enter jail without putting a fight of their lives. And if we thought they would not attempt to influence the election of the exact leaders who can drain the swamp, we are wrong.
So the elections should be a far more serious endeavor than just butting jokes about Ras Chikomeni and others. The elections are an opportunity for reset. And that’s power not even the cabal that steal from us can steal—if we were vigilant with the voting system and prudent in our voting choices—can withstand.