People disappear, get killed for speaking out against political corruption in Africa and nothing changes.
Where will it end? Corruption, apathy and cruelty at every turn.
One of benefits of being Overlanders is meeting interesting people along the way. Tony is in the agricultural business in Zimbawe. Naturally conversations invariably turn to wildlife conservation. Not too long ago Tony and a friend bought the necessary permits to go fishing at a lake in a nearby National game reserve. Before they had even untied their boat two park rangers stopped by to check their permits. Being familiar with the poaching problem Tony new what to look for. Locals with primitive boats and nets. On this particular day, not far distant there they were. Unmistakable. Tommy turned to the rangers. They turned and walked away. Paid off? Turning a blind eye? Either way, fish poaching is alive and well at this lake, according to Tony.
If this were an isolated incidence I could shrug it off, but its not. We hear the same story over and over again. Officials, be they rangers or police, be they local or state level government workers… the very people who are in a position to protect… don’t. Sure not all are corrupt or turn a blind eye, but sadly many are, or can be enticed.
Then of course there are the stories of death threats, like the man who lived in fear of his life after blowing the whistle on the killing of Cecil the Lion. (Name intentionally with held.)
The other night we watched a TED talk by Simon Sinek. We love his way of thinking about leadership. This particular address was about trust. About how trust is the basis for good leadership at all levels. Stop to think about it for a second. Do you trust your boss? You best friend? Your country’s leaders? I thought of a situation when a person I worked with went behind my back to ‘tell on me’ (I was being innovative in a conservative environment.) From then on I gave less than 100% and kept watching over my shoulder.
It made me think of Africa and the many government leaders here who have lost the trust of their people. It made me fantasize of what it would be like if the government leaders did what was right by their people, their environment, their wildlife.
Africa would be prosperous, yet preserve wild places. Africa would find the much needed balance between progress and conservation.
The answers, though complex, are all there if the leaders had their hearts in the right place… for the good of the many, instead of the good of the one. And… just maybe, political corruption would fade into history.