By: KWAMCHETSI MAKOKHA
Corruption is our dirty little secret, our tender weakness that patriots must handle with care not only for the sake of national pride but also for security reasons.
Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery, who is responsible for the safety of Kenya, knows only too well that soft spots are supposed to be hidden and protected from those who would exploit them to their advantage.
Because he realises that many responsible Kenyans would sell their country and their fellow citizen on the cheap, he requires that this national foible is kept well out of sight of those who are none the wiser.
Beyond the thrill of laying bare the pathetic service conditions of men and women in the security sector; the rush of catching a powerful individual with pants down — even if only figuratively; the excitement of exposing the purchase of sex education toys for youth; and the mental exercise of working out sums that would crash a small calculator, there is the reality that the world out there is watching.
That world does not have good intentions for Kenya, and Mr Nkaissery, a man trained in spotting enemies as an army general, knows that too well.
Imagine, for a moment, if the whole world knew that the immigration officer at the port of entry — Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, no less — could nationalise an unknown stateless person if he was covered in euros; that the long queue to use the dialysis machine could be made shorter with diamonds; and success in examinations, business and life can be paid for at the right price.
Such knowledge would be a gross security breach.
Enemies of Kenya would swarm down on the nation like a host of locusts, buying everyone in sight and taking the country to the toilet.
If it was common knowledge that everyone in Kenya — from peasant to president — has a price, there would be no country left.
Foreign agents would be tempting people in important places with power, fame, love, money and all the things it can buy such as farmland, alcohol, illicit drugs, and pleasure.
It would be downhill from there, because every other person would be asking the neighbour to turn the lights off on their way out.
If the Kenyan appetite for the good things of life were to become an open secret, there would be buyers knocking down every door to cajole those with the keys to mortgage the country.
Kenya would become a foreign country to its citizens.
The Treasury would be overrun by foreigners, the wildlife would be decimated each year, minerals would disappear into neighbouring countries, and oil drilling would be as commonplace as digging a pit latrine.
Honest people would be under constant pressure to sell secrets, mortgage the country and turn the Greek economic crisis into a modern-day comedy.
Corruption is our national vulnerability.
It needs to be nursed and dressed up and dolled to look pretty in the eyes of the world because the day people catch on about it, Kenya will be finished.
It is one thing for Kenyans to know that they can buy their political leaders, bribe their merchants and entrepreneurs, corrupt their intellectuals and hire their moralists, but it is quite another to put these weapons at the disposal of foreigners who feel nothing for the country.
It is better for non-Kenyans to imagine that our diplomats cannot be turned into spies; that intelligence officers who gather information would never sell it; that police officers are incorruptible and judicial officers are beyond reproach.
With time, the illusion does become reality.
SOURCE: DAILY NATION