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Mazrui’s real-life story

ALI Mazrui, the Kenyan historian and scholar, tells the following story on African corruption: Shortly after Ghana’s independence in 1957, a middle-rank civil servant in Accra burst into the offi

ce of his superior, hardly able to contain his outraged excitement.

He was the bearer of terrible news, he said.

A senior official in his department had stolen millions from the government coffers. This was a betrayal of what Kwame Nkrumah, the Osagyefo, had promised at independence.

The traitor must be punished, he said with righteous disgust.

The senior man took the young man aside and calmly told him that the colonial elephant that Nkrumah had destroyed had enough meat for everyone. Did the young man want to have his share?

The story is probably apocryphal, but it could be based on a true incident.

It is extracted from The Africans: A Triple Heritage, Mazrui’s film of the continent made in 1985 with the participation of the BBC.

Bill Saidi,


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