Day 4 – Bribes and Big Decisions

In which we’re confronted with corruption and make a simple decision complicated.

Decisions, decisions.

In Britain, we think bribes are bad. But many Kenyans admit that corruption keeps their country going. Nothing happens without cash handouts to officials. We don’t want to participate in it. It’s a no brainer until a dilemma arises.

Government offices in background

Government offices in background

A government apparatchik says he’s doing us an enormous favour fitting us into his busy schedule, waving his hand over a pile of dusty papers on his desk. We must register Luo Care, but there is such a backlog of paperwork that it will take months, he warns. He doesn’t even have the right documents but he will make a special concession and sort it out the next day for £75 cash.

Cue alarms bells.

We are up against the clock and need to organise everything while we are there so that Luo Care can be run from a distance when we return to England. If the only way of doing that is by coughing up wonga then perhaps we have to be pragmatic.  Should we, shouldn’t we? Round and round in circles we go.

Back home, I lie on the bed flapping a grubby, wet flannel over my head as I mull it over. Ann has a sweaty hands and feet problem at the best of times so she is caked in red dust and it stops her thinking straight.

However, we make an important decision. We cannot pay bribes, even if we fail to achieve what we set out to do. Everyone would expect handouts for evermore. It would give a terrible message to our administrator Nicholas and how could we tell him not to pay backhanders when we’ve done it ourselves?

We trudge back along the dirt track, and the cool water in our bottles becomes hot (and I do mean hot, not lukewarm) by the time we arrive at the government office. We diplomatically say we’ve changed our minds and we won’t pay anyone anything. We’re braced for an angry showdown but instead the apparatchik admits we don’t really need the documents straight away anyway, and he wishes us good luck.

We walk back to our house wondering what all our angst was about. Once a decision is made, it seems so obvious. Bribes?Handouts? No. No. No.

Click here to see our short film   (This film was made ages ago and the cost of the insurance premiums has gone up from £15 a year to £45. We still have to correct the film.)

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