Kenia / Afrika

Jeffrey Gettleman zeichnet in der New York Review of Books No. 1 ein düsteres Bild von der politischen Lage in Kenia und behandelt das Land pars pro toto für den Kontinent:

According to the United Nations, the average Kenyan makes $777 a year. Yet members of Kenya’s parliament are among the highest paid in the world, with a compensation package of $145,565 (most of it tax-free). That is 187 times more than the country’s average income and would be the equivalent of an American congressman making $8.5 million a year. And this is simply what is earned legally.

Kenya is notorious for corruption, from scandals cooked up in the president’s office involving fake companies and hundreds of millions of dollars, to police officers on the street who have a fondness for stopping drivers, inventing new traffic laws, and whispering the magic words kitu kidogo, which in Kiswahili means „a little something.“ This is the land of a little something, where no senior officials have ever been punished for graft. Just a few months ago, a drought-induced famine steadily spread toward Kenya from neighboring Ethiopia and Sudan, threatening millions of lives in a lush, bountiful country that should be able to feed itself and more; but at the same time, several top Kenyan politicians were implicated in a scheme to illegally sell off millions of pounds of the country’s emergency grain reserves, at obscene profits.

The front pages of Kenya’s biggest papers alternated between pictures of the well-coiffed politicians incredulously denying the charges and people in the hinterland with their rib cages exposed. None of this is secret. There have been countless studies of corruption, thousands of headlines about it, and intense scrutiny of Kenya from the World Bank and organizations like Transparency International, which recently ranked Kenya the most corrupt nation in East Africa. A survey done a few years ago indicated that the average urban Kenyan pays sixteen bribes a month.

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