This Corrupt And Decadent World

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This Corrupt And Decadent World
 

By

 

Bola Ajibola

 

 

 

culled from GUARDIAN, July 31, 2006

 

It is quite disturbing, disheartening and depressing to pause for a moment and observe the moral decadence of this world. The world I was born into has changed dramatically and practically for the worse. When we were young, there was nothing like the current plague of hard drugs that has now criminalised the youths of this world all over. Words like "cocaine", "hashish", "cannabis" even "marijuana" were strange words we never heard about. You can now see the damage they have done to our world, to our children and to many lives all around us. It has increased the number of people in our asylum and prisons, it has escalated violence among the people and so many lives are currently in danger.

When you move around in our present so-called civilised world or countries classified as developed, people along the streets especially women, are in most cases half naked. They put on little or nothing in order to display or show-case all the sacred parts of their bodies. They call it "a free liberal and open society". They say it is a matter of exercising the freedom of dressing. Well, as a result, our young female victims in our developing society, Nigeria, have decided to follow suit. "They are most regrettably, trying to be civilised". Unfortunately, when the developed countries sneeze, we catch the cold here.

 

An interesting story was told recently. It involved a Caucasian male who was detected to have a freezer at home stacked with the flesh of his human victims. It was revealed that he regularly killed human beings, cut them into pieces of "steak" and that was what he served himself as food. Why then are Africans readily termed savages, cannibals and primitive when there are some reports of similar practices out there. This appears to me unfair. Why can't they reveal that these deviant acts are not our exclusive preserve. Anyone who eats his fellow human, must partake in the label, "cannibal" or "primitive" or savage whether white or black.

 

Few months ago, I came across accidentally, a colleague of mine who was eager to break what he considered an important news to me. He said he was prepared to break two news in one - one bad and the other one good. He then asked which one I would like to hear first; and I offered to hear the good news first. He then informed me that Mr. X, an important international civil servant, got married, and I replied that that was in fact good news because he was single for too long in life.

He then broke the second news about the same Mr. X. that he got married to another Mr. Y, a man like him. When we were young, we were repeatedly informed that any kind of sexual relationship between a man and another man was an abomination; the type that happened in Sodom and Gomorrah, hence such acts were considered a crime of sodomy deriving its name from where it virtually was first dramatised. Many "civilised countries" in this present world have decided to legalise this decadent abomination all in the name of allowing a free society to run freer. So, in this present world of ours, lesbianism and homosexuality are being permitted and even legalised - what a shame. I only thought that the world will not become such a decadent community in my own lifetime.

On my way out of Nigeria recently, I read in a western newspaper that an innocent child of 10 was knocked down by a car that ran away. The child was sprawling on the floor screaming for help right in the centre of the road. Most distressingly, not less than 12 motorists by-passed this child without helping her. What a world! It was the 13th motorist that passed who helped and thus came to the aid of the child. It is sadly becoming a cruel world and we are no longer our brother's keepers. No one is prepared any longer to render any selfless service. In this age, they must be paid in kind or cash or gratified somehow.

 

I left that of the developed world for another developed country because of my assignments. Curiously enough, something happened to me there which prompted me to write this article. It all has to do with what is known in the "civilised" societies as 'TIPS". A historical rendition of the origin of the world T.I.P explains that the word meant "To insure (insure; old English meaning ensure) Promptness" hence T.I.P. Diners who walked into an inn for some supper more often find a box with a little opening at the top of it labeled T.I.P. Money could be deposited into this box by the would-be diner upon entry into the inn. The purport of this was that the diner would be served first or out of turn or in other words promptly by virtue of paying that extra money into the box.

This is not strange to our familiar world. From the time that I went to study overseas, tips were invariably and frequently taken by taxi drivers. Although not demanded, but it is always expected and failure to give such tip could give the passenger a kind of rebuff from the driver. Again it is not unusual to find this dropping of tips when you are at any restaurant; in fact in those days, tips are also expected. In the olden days, lawyers were paid in guineas that is one pound and shilling. Legal history tells us that the shilling is dropped at the small purse behind the gown of the manager of the chambers.

What is the moral or legal basis of tips? Is it a form of bribery or corruption endorsed by the society? In our legal practice, tips lack contractual consideration. The legal maxim of quid pro quo is equally absent. If I have travelled by a taxi and paid to cover the journey, why must I pay extra money? If I have diner satisfactorily or not, and paid for the same, why must I pay tips?

I must however say, that as a footnote, in this discourse, that this practice is not unknown in Nigeria and it is gradually gaining ground. Whenever I sent someone to buy me a ram at the Sabo market, in accounting for the ram, my messenger will tell me that he paid for the ram, paid for the rope, the "lada" and something he called "jara" whatever it means. But I think all these must be grouped and classified as tips. Now where do we go from here? Quo vadis!

 

In our law, official bribery and corruption is described as:

* "Anything already done or omitted, or any favour or disafavour already shown to any person, by himself in the discharge of his official duties or in relation to any matter connected with the functions, affairs or

business of a government department, public body or other organisation or institution in which he is serving as a public official, or

* Anything to be afterwards done or omitted, or any favour or disfavour to be afterwards shown to any person, by himself in the discharge of his official duties or in

relation to any such matter as aforesaid".

 

Again, some of the available dictionaries described tips as a small sum of money given as a reward for services provided. However, what horrified me during this my last trip is the social and unusual "legal " elevation that has now been given to tips. When I dined at one of the Restaurants, the bill that was given to me demanded payment for the full dinner, tax, and stated also therein that 15-20 per cent as tips is customary for good and excellent services and that another 15 per cent would be added if the guests are more than six. This apparent "formalisation and legislation" of tips beat me hollow. I therefore left one particularly area where this demand was so formalised to dine within another community, very well known for their high moral value. There I sat for my and to my horror, a demand for 15 per cent tips was equally made. I then gave what I could afford which was far below the 15 per cent expectation. The attendant then came to me and said that "in this country 15 per cent tips are invariably required from diners and that is what I must pay".

I retorted by telling him that I was not prepared to pay that much since the matter of tip is purely discretionary. What he did was to return my tip on my dining table. I left thereafter. There is no doubt that bribery and corruption are invariably the mother of tips; and they are closely interwoven. Persistent and forceful demand for tips will invariably continue to encourage people to demand bribe and indulge in corruption. This is the current trend in this world. Quo vadis?

 

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Prince Ajibola, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, is Nigeria's former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and a former Judge of the World Court of Justice, Hague, Netherland.

 

 

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