The Inevitability of Corruption in Africa

Essay, 2017
9 Pages, Grade: A


The inevitability of Corruption in Africa: Will it ever end?


The famous saying still linger. ’An apple does not fall too far away from the tree ‘and “no tree grows without its roots”, so everything that has grown, it surely have its own roots from where it comes from, which are the basis and strength of such a thing, with a stem from the roots, to the branches and finally the fruits or whatever products such a tree is bound to bear, either positive or negative, good or bad, sweet or sour, harmful or not harmful. This is exactly how corruption is. No one knows what a tree is going to bare or produce, just like corruption, if it’s going to be good or bad, harmful or not harmful. After colonialism, different people, countries followed the evil practices of exploiting government for their personal gains just like the colonial leaders used to use state resources to build their home country (as its widely accepted that the West got rich at the expense of African people). They did without knowing the negative impacts it might or does or would have on the people and the leaders themselves. During colonialism, people in African countries fought together as a collective unit, not only for themselves but for their countries, the lifeline and livelihood for themselves and that of their own countries, the land and its resources, mineral resources etc. Nowadays, the collectivism has effectively disappeared and has been replaced by individualism, selfishness, nepotism and the mentality of “every man for himself”, which above all disadvantage the poor, the unemployed people, and fail to take into consideration the youth and also disabled people or people in rural areas. The mentality of “every man for himself” or liberalism itself is the greatest fertilizer of conflict.

Corruption originates from these kinds of mentalities. African leaders have these mentalities, they ignore the mases or perhaps the better word is ‘block them out’, they ignore their voices, their needs and focus solely on themselves, selfishness! The resources supplied, for example money or materials supplied or handed out to build a hospital is instead invested in a single person by that person himself or by a person related or close to him/her for his/her own personal interest or entertainment at the expense of the mases who would have otherwise be using that certain hospital and who are in greater need of such services. People therefore end up suffering the consequences that they would have otherwise avoided, such as deaths and suffering at the hands of different diseases and illnesses because of lack of these health facilities, and who will care? Apart from their families or siblings, the leaders hardly pay attention to the society! But this is not really the focus of this article; the article focuses on corruption and the role players in the practice of corruption (Leaders) in Africa and why it will never end while such leaders are still in power. The roots of conflict in Africa, just like the devastating effects it might have are equally important going forward and in our efforts to reduce this practice in Africa.

After colonialism, as I have said before, people where fighting as a unit in Africa, a lot of people were killed in the process, so in respect of these people, many African countries honor them each year with events like hero’s day, Cassinga day in Namibia etc., to commemorate and remember what they have done for their respective countries and for the continent in general, especially great leaders like Nelson Mandela, Julius Nyerere, Kwame Nkurumah, Keneth Kaunda and many others. Some of these leaders and soldiers are still alive and have been given different jobs as an appreciation for their efforts to free the African people; some are in defense force, police force or given jobs in government offices. But despite the sacrifices made by all these people or citizens for their countries, most African leaders , many who participated in the colonial struggle and war, or domestic conflicts (civil wars), feel that they are more entitled to different resources and privileges more than their compatriot from the colonial times owed to them by their home countries and its people, so they refuse to recognize corruption as inappropriate or as a crime to them, they mostly take what they want , from whoever they want, at anyone’s expense, without considering who suffers the most from this practice. But war in Africa as I mentioned was not fought individually or by an individual but by collective units, groups organized in unity, a sense of belonging was created and developed, a feeling of togetherness, nationalism and nationhood, this is what won Africans the war against the European whites. This is why there are people in rural areas at a completely different level in African countries who fought in the war along our political leaders e.g. the president, but did not get the privilege or recognition they deserve to be at the same level as their compatriots. So why do African leaders think is owed to them and not anyone else? What had they done so hard or had to do at that time that others didn’t do? If they were all fighting the same enemy, the same war?

Robert Williams in his book “Corruption in Africa’ states that corruption in Africa is not a carbuncle on the body politics, but a virus in its bloodstream. A virus spreading at a very rapid pace. He adds that if we are to remove corruption, we will have to threaten the state itself and this should include the state actors and everyone involved as the state now act as a lubricant to an otherwise static and inefficient bureaucracy[1]. This is indeed a fact and a bold suggestion or statement which highlights the importance and relevance of this article.

Julius Nyerere (1996) greatly questioned the benefits of independence of the African states, and if the people would be able to enjoy the true benefits of independence if corruption was allowed to continue. He was also afraid that confidence in their government, including the very foundation of justice which will be shuttered if corruption is/was not confronted in all diversity[2].

Corruption is a dangerous practice; greatly it’s not only the author who notices. Decades since these leaders emphasized on these issues, fears of both Nyerere and Nkurumah who cited corruption as a vice that risked gravely harming millions in Africa striving for freedom and justice, he said that Tanzania risked adding another enemy to their list of commonly cited and known enemies, Poverty, Ignorance And Disease-the fourth to be Corruption (Nkrumah, 1961:110)[3]. Fears of both Nyerere and Nkurumah has been realized if not confirmed, ironically its African leaders that have been the causes or roots of these evil deeds that their former leaders so dully hated and dismissed as terrible for the continent or countries in general. The African leaders have since exploited the institutions and government agencies and the public resources at their disposals after being drafted into the office after independence. Nyerere and Nkuruma’s fears have been integrated into the very social, political and our economic systems that are being used in our societies, communities, nations and countries. The practices of nepotism, patronage, and paternalism have been employed to secure and maintain control of resources and material benefits and material for African leaders. Exploitation, nepotism and totalitarian has been used and embraced by African leaders especially dictators and authoritarians to control the people and maintain control over resources or the people to control resources and use it/them merely for their personal gains! (Timamy, 2005, p. 384).[4]

Corruption is not only about stealing funds. It is also about putting bad people in prime positions. People who have neither the passion (sincerity) nor the qualification (skills) to do the job. This form of corruption is crippling Africa's development. In the African union you get a department full of village friends. No one with the qualifications to do the post, other than being clan members. The price of nepotism causes a complete failure of a country, or an organization to develop. Corruption is worse than murder. It kills more than warfare; it takes land and money to build a hospital and buys a private jet, condemning thousands of people over multiple generations to die of curable diseases. And the indirect consequences are, from that poverty pool lie the next genius to lead Africa out of this morass; the next Malcolm X, the next Imhotep, the cure for cancer, the woman who will make cars run on air.

Corruption in Africa and its leaders

Corruption is one of the biggest problems that African has had since independence and it has been crippling our African economies and development ever since. Many African countries have made considerable efforts to reduce corruption potentially to abolish from citizens and the system in general, but so far we are not making enough progress as corruption persists in our countries most especially among the government officials, politicians and public servants. Although, despite the established institutions and many other mechanisms to cater for the reduction of corruption, it’s going to take more than several people and one institution to abolish corruption on the African continent. This is mostly because corruption in Africa starts from the top officials, the very same people always preaching about, Harambee, Ubuntu, Ujamaa, Kaunda’s humanism, Nkuruma’s consciencism, “Rainbow nation” and many other ideologies mostly aimed at blinding people and excuses of making people believe the system is all good! African leaders are a disease, a corruption cancer that has grown and spread its wings and roots and affected many other people.

Corruption in African leaders

Angola's president, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, has been accused of creating one of the most corrupt ruling environments in Africa by ignoring the everyday needs and concerns of citizens and focusing, instead, on accumulating a massive fortune for himself and his family and crushing all political opposition. Jose Eduardo is the second longest serving president in Africa; he run his government like it’s his personal, privately-owned investment holding company. In 2013, President dos Santos named his eldest son, José Filomeno dos Santos, as the head of Angola's sovereign investment fund, in charge of over $5 billion[5]. His cousin serves as Angola’s vice president, and his daughter, Isabel Dos Santos is arguably the wealthiest woman in the country, he has also appointed his daughter as head of state oil firm Sonangol, the biggest oil producing company in Angola[6]. Rumor has it that when Isabel Dos Santos got married in Ruanda in 2002, the wedding ceremony cost about US$4 million, with a special choir flown in from Belgium and two planes chartered to bring food from France. About 800 guests were present at the wedding, half of them relatives of the couple, and also several African presidents. What a life? Sonangol manages Angola’s lucrative oil and gas reserves, which contribute to about half of the country’s annual GDP while fueling a precarious and lop-sided post-war boom. The drop in global oil prices has hit Angola hard, forcing the country to cut public investment by 53%. Sonangol reported a net profit $710 million last year, down from more than $3 billion, according to Bloomberg.


[1] Robert Williams (1987) Political corruption in Africa. Aldershot

[2] Nyerere, J. K. (1966), Freedom and Unity, Dar es Salaam/Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[3] Nkrumah, K. (1961), I Speak of Freedom, London: Panaf Books. Nyerere, J. K.

[4] Timamy K (2005) African Leaders and Corruption. Review of African Political Economy,

[5] Angola names president's son to chair $5 bln sovereign wealth fund

[6] "Overview of corruption and anti-corruption in Angola" (PDF). Transparency International.

Excerpt out of 9 pages


The Inevitability of Corruption in Africa
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inevitability, corruption, africa
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Joseph Nangombe Tobias Tobias (Author), 2017, The Inevitability of Corruption in Africa, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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