Transparency International released its now-famous Corruption Perceptions Index, which concluded this year Somalia as the most corrupt country in the world. Hooray for us! But wait a minute. What? Somalia and corruption? Are these people insane? How do they define corruption? The last time I checked, in order for corruption to exist, a semblance of law and order has to exist in the environment in which the corruption prevails. I don’t know what these people were thinking but surely Somalia does NOT qualify for this award. I mean, I don’t intend to insinuate that Somalia is not corrupt, but when one thinks about corruption in the sense of political and economical manifestation, Somalia would have to be the last place on the planet to qualify for corrupt state. Somalia is a failed State. Only the gun rules.
There is no government, courts, or police. It’s an extreme anarchy – Mad Max all-you-can-eat situation. Folks living in Mogadisho do not worry about who they will have to bribe to get a telephone line hooked. They worry whether they will get robbed (or shot more likely) on their way to the market or school (which is a very expensive private school at that). Unless of course Transparency International is referring to Somaliland, in which case an argument for corruption can be made (please don’t give me grieve on whether Somaliland is a country or not). Now I think about it, how did TI get their data in the first place? Did they go on the streets and asked, “how often do you pay bribe to get things done?” Furthermore, if Somalia is so corrupt, who’s demanding the corruption? The Warlord Thugs? I don’t know about TI’s philosophy, but I know for a fact that warlords do not demand bribe – they take whatever they want.
More suspiciously, at least to my cynical eyes, is the conspicuous absence of my dear Kenya from the top ten list. For the past 7 years, Kenya has had the pleasure of being named as the top corrupt country in the world – and for a very good reason. But I’m not sure all that has changed overnight. As someone who has resided in both Somalia and Kenya, I know when it comes to corruption, Kenya is the grandaddy of all corruptness. You can’t leave your house without “bribe money” in Kenya, whereas Somalia you only get jacked if you have something of a value. Maybe I’m being overtly cynical about Kenya’s progress against corruption but I find it interesting that such an awfully corrupt country can jump from 30 spots within the span of two years.