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Ethics Week 2020: What does it mean to “give in without giving out”?

 

What does ethical behaviour mean to you? Are we doomed to embrace a corrupt society as the new norm? What part have you played in strengthening corruption’s grip? Is there hope for our country?

Our point of convergence is that we all desire transformative leadership and good governance. The challenge is that we have not fully embraced the same as drivers of our socio-economic and political prosperity.

These were the opening remarks by Retired Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, the Chairperson of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), while delivering his keynote address at the Strathmore University #EthicsConference.

Creating Kenya’s Kairos moment

Highlighting the nexus between Leadership and Governance, he went on to add that transformational leaders are supposed to not only create a vision, but also develop followership, implement the vision, follow through, and achieve results. This, he said, is the recipe for generating trust, respect, and admiration from followers.

In light of this, Strathmore University, right from its founding as Kenya’s first racially-desegregated learning institution, has been a key protagonist in advancing collective social good and fighting social ills in the country. The rich history of service to its community, a key pillar in the University’s Strategy, inspired the convening of the 2020 Strathmore #EthicsConference.

Top of the Conference’s clarion call was the rallying of all to act now, in whatever capacity, to create a Kairos moment – a defining moment in the moral history of our nation, to ensure corruption’s fatal grip does not tighten any further. Sensing an opportunity to lead alongside others on this moral charge, Strathmore University sought to elevate the place of Academia and other stakeholders in fighting corruption in Kenya.

An intriguing foreground

Often, we are afraid of the aftermath of a looming danger in worst-case scenarios. More so, the guilt that comes with knowing that the situation would have been either avoidable or could have been dealt with amicably is all the more painful.

This is the reasoning presented by Strathmore University and Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) as they partnered to organise the 2020 Strathmore #EthicsConference.

Where would Kenya be in the year 2050 if we did nothing about corruption? Yes, we would somehow still be a developing nation, but in principle, we would be like a body overcome by metastatic cancer, corruption infecting all parts of our national corpus. The foreground of the 2020 Ethics Week worked to challenge all of us to play our parts so that corruption does not rob Kenya of its purpose and promise.

It’s easier to straighten a green stick than a dry one

This year’s Ethics Week took place between Monday 16th November, 2020 and Friday 20th November, 2020. Holy Mass held on the first day ensured the auspiciousness and well-being of the weeklong event. The event brought together proven ethical agents, system changers, practitioners, partners, and citizens such as UN Global Compact Network-Kenya, Transparency International Kenya, Kenya Climate Innovation Centre, Anjarwalla & Khanna, Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), and PwC Kenya among others.

The daily webinars left no stone unturned, eliciting meaningful and enriching discussions on: Role of the Youth in Combating Corruption and Promoting Ethical Practices, Role of the Family in Creating an Ethical Human Being and Steering National Development, Role of Ethics and Integrity Training in Steering National Development, and Ethics and Integrity Training for National Development. The culmination of the event was the #EthicsConference held on the last day, with a rich array of themes including a reflection by Vice Chancellor, Prof. John Odhiambo, of how the University has lived the theme of the year; Promoting Ethical Behaviour: Do good, Be More, Fight Corruption.

The role of the family in creating an ethical human being was widely discussed with many supporting the idea that parents must step up and be model mirrors for their children. As Cavin Opiyo, Strathmore University staff member from Research Services rightfully put it: Children emulate what they see at home. They need to see their parents live out the ethos, virtues, and the character that they speak about.

Speaking at the event, Mr. Twalib Mbarak, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) Chief Executive Officer emphasised teaching ethics to individuals from a tender age, as a matter of necessity. He went on to point out that proper family upbringing solves 70% of a country’s issues. Mr. Mbarak lauded Strathmore’s model of inculcating ethics in students, saying it goes a long way in moulding an ethical society. This was a sentiment echoed by Susan Muli-Munene who believes that it is easier for institutions of learning to build an ethical society if the students have a “good” foundation. It’s easier to straighten a green stick than a dry one.

Play your part

You only live once (YOLO), but how you live your life matters. The fight against corruption begins at an individual level and integrity starts with you and me. We are the authors of the changes we seek and in the words of Retired Archbishop Eliud Wabukala; All Kenyans and stakeholders must discharge their individual and collective responsibilities for the country to make meaningful progress in the pursuit of a culture of integrity and good governance.

Turn your #EthicsConference reflections into sustainable actions against corruption. Do good, be more, #fightcorruption.

 

This article was written by Francis Kabutu. 

 

Would you like to share your experience of living through the circumstances brought by the Covid-19 pandemic? Kindly email: communications@strathmore.edu

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