‘Corruption is a process. A person doesn’t wake up rotten one morning, it happens in stages: a gradual compromise of learned moral standards, excused to oneself through reasons of necessity.’
THE BATTLE TO HALT THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC meant millions worldwide faced more risks than the virus: since January, the global anti-corruption organisation Transparency International has received more than 1,500 reports of police and soldiers demanding bribes from people to pass roadblocks, break curfew or evade quarantine. Even essential workers, doctors and nurses are not immune.
In his powerful short story God Loves the Unbeliever, published in an online collection by www.tamperedpress.com , Ghana-based British writer TIMOTHY J. BANKS examines the psyche of corruption.
They called him Mr Glenfiddich because that’s all he drank. Nobody knew anything about him except that everything he owned was expensive and new. The people in his neighbourhood would suck their teeth when he drove past in his huge black Lexus and think, “That man has too much money”.
One hot afternoon he stood on a mound of crumble-dry latrite and gazed out on a scrubby plain. His eyes scanned the horizon and he spun slowly on the spot, hoping to see a building that he knew wasn’t there. He sucked the last puff of relief from his Kingsize and kicked a discarded sandal into a pile of garbage next to a bush.
This was milder than his reaction at the first site, some two hundred miles up the road. With shaking hands he had lit two cigarettes in a minute, allowing the first forgotten stick to set fire to his car upholstery. He then almost came to blows with a policeman who had come to investigate the smoke. Only the politicking of his assistant had saved them from a tedious situation.
Back in Accra, showered and reinforced with two comforting balls of kenkey, he put on new clothes, jumped back into his Lexus and drove fast to the bar. He was enraged by the situation but he was also somehow exhilarated, for his worst suspicions had been confirmed.
The man they called Kofi Koko was already there waiting for him, aggressively eating a bowl of banku and okro. Kofi took a whole crab in one pudgy fist and his mouth became a rotating cement mixer, resulting in a fine pile of rubble which he delicately spat onto the edge of the plastic Alomo Bitters tablecloth.
“Oh!” he exclaimed as he barely looked up. “You’re putting on! God is good!”
Glenfiddich ordered three shots of whiskey and set another Kingsize smouldering.
“I visited some of the depots today, Kofi. I didn’t see the cargo.”
“These contractors… they’re unreliable.”