A survey released last Tuesday by the East African Institute says a great number of Kenyan youth have a very high propensity for corruption, greatly admire the corrupt and will more than willingly embrace corruption.
Why are youth embracing rather than avoiding corruption?
From the survey, it is no longer a mystery that Jubilee government is literally oozing with corruption. With pride, it characterises itself as a government of the youth, by the youth and for the youth. But if the youth are corrupt, their government is also corrupt.
It is also now clear why county governments and assemblies are corrupt. Majority of MCAs and those in county governments are young people who are willingly corrupt, and so are their county governments and assemblies.
A lot of youth in leadership believe they are in government to make money by hook or crook, which is exactly what they are doing today.
Since emasculation of Chapter Six of the constitution with the express purpose of ensuring nobody was blocked from entering government or Parliament merely because they were corrupt, the National Assembly has many MPs who have no qualms about making money by whatever means necessary. In fact, the corrupt have an advantage over honest people because they are richer and bribe poor people to vote for them.
So corrupt youth are not just making money corruptly, they are also using institutions of governance to facilitate their graft and protect themselves against prosecution.
That corruption is widespread among youth is evidenced by the palpable hatred there is today against anybody who fits the definition of honest leader whom the youth demonise as anti-development.
Attacks against honest leaders are more evident in the social media which the youth use to preach graft and defend the corrupt.
With the institutions of governance firmly in the grip of corrupt youth, Kenya is in great trouble. Youth will use the governments they control to facilitate more corruption.
They will use the money they make through bribes to buy leadership, power and governments; they will use incumbency to perpetuate themselves in power indefinitely, and they will use their power to legitimise and protect corruption from attack and prosecutions.
Though the youth have managed to sanitise and legitimise corruption, to the nation, accepting corruption is worse than embracing terrorism because corruption will willingly subvert the war against terrorism to make a quick buck.
Yet we must not marvel that corruption has taken our youth captive. Before infecting the youth, corruption first eroded moral values that keep corruption at bay of any society.
When I was growing up, money was never idolised. Today it is. Yet graft cannot be fought by those who idolise money. Though I grew up in grinding colonial poverty, my ambition was not to become rich but have a good name and be patriotic to the country.
As I grew up, my heroes were not the richest, but freedom fighters who were fighting for our collective salvation.
As a young man, I was told the world was divided into two – good and evil – and my life would be worth living if I was on the side of good and not on the side of evil.
To be a soldier of good, I was taught it was morally evil to be greedy, to beg, to steal, to grab food against my brothers and sisters or to lie. Childhood morals condemned corruption and promised punishment for the corrupt here on earth and in hell.
As youth, we were taught not to be proud of corruption but ashamed and never to willingly embrace graft and all the values that encourage it. Fortunately, our poor society stood together against corruption and preferred poverty to wealth that was won corruptly.
But we have a different society today. Ordinary people and victims of corruption praise the corrupt as clever kids whom they bow to and beg from.
They protect them against arrest and prosecution which they protest as persecution of their ethnic heroes. Ultimately, entire communities crown the corrupt with leadership whose express purpose is to steal more from them and from the government.
While in the past stealing would suffer punishment, today it enjoys impunity. Consequently the youth see corruption as an activity that is not only praised at home and in the family, but as something that has only benefits and no cost, and which only fools will refuse to engage in. Why should the youth avoid corruption which can only give you wealth, power, leadership and heroism?
Corruption proliferates among youth because corrupt leaders are the role models that society crowns with national leadership. As the proverb says, a child will follow where the parent goes.
The youth are corrupt because they learn it from the parents who live by it and whom they follow. The youth also embrace corruption because the media lionise them as the most successful in society.
Lastly, the youth are corrupt because their national ambition is not to serve but be rich by hook or crook. And as President Kennedy warned against, youth grow up asking not what they can do for the country but what the country can do for them.
Through our corrupt youth, we have mortgaged the future of our country to the devil, a fate we may not reverse unless we clean our leadership and society.
Through corrupt youth, we have already committed national suicide that will kill us unless we urgently engage a reverse gear.