Unaccountability set Sierra Leone, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast and Liberia on flames. It saw the angry Jerry Rawlings executing some military Big Men in Ghana; it saw Foday Sankoh amputating, maiming, raping and counting-looting Sierra Leone; it saw Liberia set on bonfire and President Samuel Doe killed like an armed robber with his ears cut off and paraded naked in public.
Unaccountability saw all sorts of despicable people emerge on the African scene, further destroying Africa.
At the extreme end, Liberians, Sierra Leoneans, Kenyans, Congolese and Nigerians will sadly tell you terrible stories about unaccountability and how it has negated their progress despite their immense natural wealth.
The idea is to make the case that accountability is the soul of modern democratic practices. And the fact that how healthy a society is, is revealed in how accountable it is unto itself.
In African tradition, accountability, more called judgment (since one has to pay for one’s actions and face the consequences); had a metaphysical ring to it.
In a complicated believe, Africans judge that what you are on earth is how accountability you were in your previous life – good, truthful, pure, balance life means your next life would be devoid of too much headaches.
It lays more emphasis on the spiritual than the material, the source of corruption. Accountability, therefore, restrains one from extreme negative life on earth as fodder for good life in your next life.
The metaphysics aside, accountability, as an anti-dote to corrupt practices, hugely defines progress. The American economist John Kenneth Galbraith, said “Hard, visible circumstance defines reality.”
The reality of the African accountability campaigns is that it hasn’t been addressed also from African culture, perhaps the key source of corruption.
Accountability campaigns do not work in authoritarian regimes but better under democracies as Ghanaians are experiencing today. In Nigeria, a group of high ranking military personnel, mostly during the Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha juntas, demonstrate the networked nepotism characteristic of Bayart’s The Politics of the Belly by looting billions of dollars. In his four short years in power Abacha managed to embezzle over US$4 billion.
Those days, we can only hope, are behind us as Africans. Its time that African policy-makers look at those positive things African culture, can teach us, when they are addressing corruption.
The author is a Ghanian living in Canada.