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Are corrupt politicians a reflection of a corrupt society?

In a primary school, a teacher asked his pupils, “What is the name given to a situation where a person dies by hanging himself or herself?”

“Sir, sir, sir,” the pupils shouted with their hands raised. The teacher called one of the pupils for an answer; and he said, “tie and die.” Utterly disappointed, the teacher shook his head and wondered what the future held for his pupils. One after the other, he asked them what they wanted to be in future.

One child said he wanted to be a shoeshine boy. When asked why, he said he was always fascinated by the sound shoeshine boys make by hitting their wooden boxes with a stick to attract clients, and that was his motivation.

Another child said she would love to be a “delegate.” Her motivation was that her father was a branch chairman of a ruling party and her uncle a constituency organizer of an opposition party; and during party and primary elections, his father and uncle received assorted items and huge sums of money as gifts.

As much as this may sound funny, there are serious underlying issues regarding the endemic rot which is destroying the very fabric of our society. The underhand dealings that go on during party conferences to elect officers at the constituency, regional and national levels is no more a secret, not mentioning how District, Municipal and Metropolitan Chief Executives of Local Government in Ghana are compelled to part with huge sums of money before their appointments are confirmed at the various Local Assemblies, and how these officers reap their “investment” in the speed of light by stealing money meant for the wellbeing of the rural poor.

There are more, in some instances, corrupt politicians get funding from some rapacious businesspeople who become the power brokers when power is won.

The most disturbing part of this narrative is that our young ones are watching and emulating. Terrible! I had a shock of my life when I visited a primary school some years ago to see a friend who was a teacher there. A child who appeared to be from an affluent home was sharing toffees to his school mates. Was he celebrating his birthday? No, I was wrong! There was an impending poll to elect prefects, and apparently that child was practising what he had observed from adults in his community whenever there is an election. He was buying votes! I cringed!

This marked the instant my life crossed a particular junction of time and space. I’m scared and wondering what the future holds for us as a country. Little wonder a pupil of a basic school sees a “delegate” as a lucrative career. God help us!

Anthony Obeng Afrane

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