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We can honour Annan by upholding integrity

Kevin Mabonga

A truly great mentor is hard to find, difficult to part with and impossible to forget. That was Kofi Annan.

This is a man who served rather than “led” in his distinguished career as a diplomat right from 1987, crowning his successful career by serving as the Secretary General of the United Nations. Robert Greenleaf, who coined the term servant leadership, notes “begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead.”

According to www.biography.com,  among Annan’s most well-known accomplishments were his issuance of a five-point Call to Action in April 2001 to address the HIV/Aids pandemic and his proposal to create a Global Aids and Health Fund. He and the United Nations were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in December of 2001 “for their work for a better organised and more peaceful world.”

As the world prepares to say goodbye to one of Africa’s most accomplished individual, there are a lot of lessons that we can draw from his life so as to keep what he believed in alive. Integrity summarises all.  The best way to teach people about life values is by practising them every single day of our lives . This is what we should all do at our individual capacities.

I have interacted with people who complain what the leaders they elected have not done or suggest ways things should be done. The surprising thing is that a number admit having done the very things they condemn. A case in point is giving or receiving a bribe. Many people would rather give or receive a bribe to avoid “inconveniences” than wait for the right procedure.

According to the East Africa Bribery Index 2017 published by Transparency International Kenya, 42 per cent per cent of respondents indicated that the most common reason they paid bribes was because it was the only way to access the service, followed by 29 per cent who indicated that they paid bribes to hasten service delivery and 16 per cent who paid to avoid problems with the authorities. This is proof that the problem is not only leaders but also us. It is time to evaluate ourselves.

In the latest Corruption Perception Index, Kenya ranked 143 out of 180 countries, scored 28 points out of the possible 100, a slight improvement from 26 points in 2016 and 25 in 2015. 

However, the score is still lower than the combined average score for Africa which is 32. Another strong indication that more needs to be done in the fight against corruption. It is simple- those involved in corrupt practices should be punished as per the law.

It is noteworthy that African states have taken corruption as a serious concern. I congratulate the African Union (AU) for earmarking July 11 as African Anti-Corruption Day and dedicating 2018 to the fight against corruption. The most important thing, however, would be feedback to show the activities and their impacts towards a transparent and accountable society. It will be good if the countries fully commit to fight corruption.

It is also encouraging that Kenyans are becoming active players in demanding for accountability. Notably, through social media where corruption scandals have been exposed. The media too has been fearless in exposing corruption cases, thus putting the public in the know. These trends should be highly encouraged.

If we place integrity as our guiding principle, we will definitely get to the right direction. The best way to honour Kofi Annan is by creating impact in our various capacities as he did. Go well Kofi Annan. – The author works with transparency International Kenya . [email protected]

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