Venue: Bergen Resource Centre for International Development (Jus II)

It’s our turn to eat

The story of a Kenyan blower

Literary salon with  journalist and author Michela Wrong, Lise Stensrud of Norad’s Anti-Corruption Project and Arne Tostensen of CMI. Host for the event is Jessica Schultz, Co-Director of U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre.

Michela Wrong’s latest book is a gripping account of both an individual caught on the horns of an excruciating moral dilemma and a continent at a turning point. When John Githongo appeared one cold February morning on the doorstep of Michela Wrong’s London flat, carrying a small mountain of luggage, it was clear something had gone very wrong in a country regarded until then as one of Africa’s few budding success stories.

Two years earlier, in the wave of euphoria that followed the election defeat of long-serving President Daniel arap Moi, John had been appointed Kenya’s new anti-corruption czar. In choosing this giant of a man, respected as an anti-corruption crusader, the new government was signalling that it was set on ending the practices that had made Kenya an international by-word for sleaze.

Now John was on the run, having realised that the new administration, far from breaking with the past, was using near-identical techniques to pilfer public funds. John’s tale, which has all the elements of a political thriller, is the story of how a brave man came to make a lonely decision with huge ramifications. But his story transcends the personal, touching as it does on the cultural, historical and social themes that lie at the heart of the continent’s continuing crisis.

In this book, Michela Wrong seeks answers to the questions that have puzzled outsiders for decades. What is it about African society that makes corruption so hard to eradicate, so sweeping in its scope, so destructive in its impact? Together with invited guests Lise Stensrud and Arne Tostensen, Ms. Wrong will discuss these issues and reflect on how international actors might play a more constructive role in addressing corruption in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa.

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