What really matters most to society is usually what happens. His hierarchy of needs and values establishes man’s behaviour. This means we do first what we think is most important to us. But then what is most important to us is not what we say; it is what we do.
It will seem absurd to say that African society reflects what is most important to us. After all, if there is full-scale corruption; if there is massive poverty, these conditions cannot be what society wants. Strangely, though, even if most Africans do not want poverty and corruption, they exist.
Getting rid of corruption and poverty may be what Africans say they really want, but what they do daily, their lifestyles is not about reducing poverty and corruption. In fact, we can even go as far as to say that what is more important to most Africans make corruption and poverty thrive.
I am almost convinced that the victims of corruption and poverty add to their exploitation by voting into power the wrong politicians. Worse, in the minds of those who did not vote so wisely, the mistake is privately acknowledged and admitted.
These not so wise voters have a set of reasons that make them live peacefully with their mistaken choices. Thus, the trend is still to elect unfit officials.
There is a spirit of inconsistency, the weird state of victims being facilitators of their own victimhood by electing crooked candidates and allowing bad governance. This is why we see a conflict of interests, a conflict of values from among the citizens. But is this what really matters most?
We could agree right now that those who are uncommitted to ending the historical poverty in our countries have more profound and more urgent needs. Primarily their survival. Remember, the most basic priority is survival. It easily overrides everything else, even aspirations. I want to believe that it is hard to be moral when your children are sick or hungry or when they don’t have proper shelter.
The poor, who are also the perpetual victims of corrupt officials, do not have the choices available to the non-poor. Those who have no long-term assurance of food, who cannot get medicine when a family member is ill, they have limited options at most.
Sometimes, they really have none. In this case, voting for candidates who are most qualified, who possess the integrity, who have qualifying track records, by the programs they commit to carry out, is hardly an option when the other choice is medicine, food, money, or a promise of employment.
I would like to believe that whether we agree with their choices or not, it is only essential that we understand why they make the choices that they make. It may give us an idea as to the level of hopelessness that voters feel at the thought that their future is up to politicians.
The future is not bright at all to people who have more urgent concerns and struggle with these concerns daily. Their concerns and worries will limit their capacity to think of a future when the current reality is full of needs that they cannot meet. Therefore, addressing the problem of their most urgent worries is what matters the most.
In other words, we can safely say that the more the moral virtues are engulfed by the need for survival, the more money and other material goodies become the deciding factor for the poor. And many of us may be aware that even among the rich, business and money are often more valuable than morality and good governance. At the end of it, we all cry the same cry and complain endlessly. But then what really matters most?
When those who have so many options can still choose the worst, there is no reason why the same can be expected from those who have little or none. Behavioural patterns do not change quickly or easily.