A Literary Metaphor for Ending Corruption in Nigeria

A top ranking military general in 2001 offered me a literary metaphor for solving problem of corruption but warned me seriously not to take it literally

He narrated the metaphor as such. There was once an African village that was terrorised by lions. The village was without a ruler and was governed by the consensus of elders. The terror by the lions had been going on for generations; sometimes the attacks were weak and sporadic and at other times they were intense and regular. Each act of feline terror would at least claim the life or severely maim a man, woman or child.

The villagers tried several innovative techniques to eliminate or mitigate the terror of the lions boosted by the egalitarian decision-making process they had in place. One technique was to build a high wooden fence around the village. Another was to dig a thorn filled moat around the village. Yet another was for the villagers to make strange load sounds in unison. Then there was the use of dogs to bark at the lions in unison. They even try to appease the lions with their livestock. And there many more techniques tried and adopted to keep the lions out. However, whatever technique the villagers adopted worked for a while, sometime for days, sometimes for weeks. Unfortunately, each time the technique adopted successfully repelled the attack of the lions and brought security to the village, it was a matter time before the lions eventually overcame it.

Then one day the Gods must have spoken to the villagers. A young boy f 10 years old at a village meeting shocking yelled “why do we always try to keep the lions out? Why don’t we kill all the lions?” Almost immediately, the villagers were spurred into action by the adopting the boy’s wisdom; they killed most of the lions while remainder relocated to new lands. It was no surprise that the boy became chief in a once chiefless village. And the villagers lived happy ever after.

If a solution to corruption in Nigeria is to be found, all forms of corruption have to be effectively annihilated simultaneously rather than just prevented or mitigated or reformed. And as the metaphor narrated above indicates it may require mildly extreme to very extreme measures. If such measures are properly executed, the people of Nigeria or wherever it is adopted can live happily ever after i.e. in a corruptionless society.

Remember do not take the metaphor literally.

Kpara kpara mo! Iya!

Grimot Nane

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