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Nigeria Wants AU to Declare Corruption a Crime against Humanity

To declare Corruption a “Crime Against Humanity” is a bold move. It is also a very Nigerian move. Nigeria is well known to be one of the most corrupt countries, not only since David Cameron joked about its ‘fantastical corruptness’ to the Queen of England. So maybe Nigeria wants to correct its image, which Cameron by failing all diplomatic etiquette had tarnished so badly. More so, however, I think, it wants to compensate for its actual inability to do something about corruption. How better to pledge one's allegiance to the fight against of corruption by being willing to absolute condem it.  And how better to condemn it through an analogy which makes clear that corruption has deadly consequences on a population wide scale. But does it do anything else? To pull out the ultimate rhetoric of shaming and evil means to apply a disproportionate instrumentarium of condemnation and enforcement to what otherwise is a deeply engrained way of life and which is, as De Sardan (1999) has argued, even part of a positive morality of everyday sociality. What would remain of Nigeria if such an instrumentarium is seriously being applied?  And is this even on the cards. This is of course beside the fact that legally it would require an extreme leap of interpretation to make the connection between 'crime against humanity' and corruption. As such it is a powerful performative act, splitting once again political posture from political action, a performance which however will make it even more unlikely that it people will think of themselves as corrupt. Instead it will become a more powerful way of pointing at others, as if corruption did not already serve this agenda too well, to expose others. 



Participant: Julia HORNBERGER
Dept. of Anthropology | Wits University
Presentation: "Teaching Corruption"