Corruption is our Greatest Killer!
By George Morara
A pregnant woman in labour has died this weekend because she couldn’t raise 1,000 shillings (roughly 10 USD) to bribe a Western county government driver to transfer her to hospital.
Angry would be an understatement. I feel like exploding!!! I demand answers…. What level of stupid corruption are we at!?
The last time I lost my cousin and police transferred him to Kiambu hospital mortuary, the attendant played cat and mouse games with me for most of the day when we went to transfer his body to a better facility at Chiromo – simply because he wanted 500 shillings bribe. I had the money and refused to give him in principle. I was so angry I wanted to tear him apart with my bare hands. The idiot, fully employed and still demanding bribes was causing more grief to already grieving people. Not just us. Majority very poor.
At the time, some of my family advised me to stay at the background not to complicate the situation! I thought the situation was already complicated. I still get angry when I remember and think about the needless senseless suffering of our people.
This cold-heartedness and indifference have thrived due to poor or non existent leadership. When I demanded to know who the lead was in Kiambu mortuary, the information was inaccessible. I wondered who was in charge of the idiots running the mortuary.
Further I was shocked to learn about the elaborate syndicate around the mortuary- from sellers in nearby kiosks- the attendant would demand you get a blanket, white sheets, et cetera- and harasses you to get them quick – and you could only buy them from his friends outside the mortuary…
When you go to Nyamira Hospital, the thriving business just outside the gate is coffin selling. The inquisitive faces of casket sellers are void of emotion – detached from all humaneness and wholly focused on the money.
5 years ago I lost my sister-in-law in an English Hospital – Basildon – one of the worst rated in England. The care my family received though was exceptional.
Pamela died at around 10am. The nurses carefully and thoughtfully washed and changed her. We were allowed 3 hours by her side to grieve and bid her farewell. When we were ready, they took and kept her. We could visit anytime. All the information and support we needed was offered. Including sufficient time to plan and organise the funeral.
The next level were the undertakers. Everything was handled with utmost regard and respect. The costs were not exploitative and the whole process which seemed daunting at first was made to look effortless. Nobody would even cut you mid-sentence. Pamela was embalmed and prepared according to our wishes. I sent Pamela back home for burial with dignity I had never before witnessed so close. Death is handled very sensitively in Europe not because people are wealthy and can afford it, but there’s value in human life beyond the last breath.
We need to take our leaders to task over the failed decayed moral state of our people.
Second: As a people, we need to learn to do things properly. And I know corruption is so deeply embedded that no one knows where to begin the fight. It begins with ME!
Refuse to pay the bribe. Initially you’ll be alone but we will all warm up to the idea. What’s there to gain once you’ve lost your dear ones. It maybe unthinkable, but if a mortuary attendant demands for a bribe to do his job, let him keep the dead. Should I die and my family face the same situation, apply the same rule am prescribing here.
And that fellow who refused to take this poor woman to hospital, resulting in her death, should receive the maximum penalty. It should be a lesson for everyone assigned to any duty, to do their job -For which they are paid to do.
My thoughts and prayers are with the affected family. This should have been a time of celebration and rejoicing for a new life. Instead, a double man-made tragedy.
What we must remember is that CORRUPTION KILLS. When you witness a careless matatu driver hand over a bribe to a police officer to let a less than roadworthy vehicle go, accept to die too in the accident a mile down the road. And remember you are complicit to a crime.
It’s better to accept some inconvenience than let death happen!
Corruption is holding us back in Africa and I have hardly scratched the surface in all its ugly perspectives and consequences as sourly felt by our people in the daily grinding!