Have you ever imagined of volunteering to educate the future generation about corruption? An author in Liberia is doing that. Robtel Neajai Pailey, an author, activist, and academician, is doing just that in Liberia. This author has had some work experiences with the media, public sector, academia, and international organizations. Robtel opted to use her passion, which is storytelling and social justice well. She, therefore, came up with two anti-corruption books for children.
About the books
The first book Gbagba was published back in 2013, while the second book Jaadeh will soon be out.
According to Robtel, she first encountered corruption back in 2007. It was when she was working in her country in Liberia. The high level of corruption made her troubled.
One incident, in particular, shook her. It happened when she was chairing the scholarship committee in the Liberian government. Then they were tackling the reform process to make the awards based on gender balance, transparent and merit base. They discovered a group of mischievous young boys. They had forged their records so that they can be in a position to win scholarships to Morocco.
Changing their way of thinking
They called the boys and questioned them. Despite denying at first, they confessed something that made Robtel be concerned about them. The young men were then in their adolescence but took all the risks to get ahead. Robtel had plans of rebuking the young men only to realize that she could instead change their way of thinking. She found it more beneficial to start with the eight-year-old kids because that was where the ethical core started. An author in Liberia teaching about corruption is none other than her.
According to Robtel, adults usually have set ways, and that frustrated her. However, the children are quite refreshing and truthful until the grown-ups teach them otherwise. Robtel was after stopping the negative teaching by equipping the kids with verbal tools that will grapple with blurred lines between dishonesty and honesty. An author in Liberia teaching corruption makes the kids grow upright.
When writing the first book, Gbagba, which means trickery, Robtel hoped to come up with kids’ movement to question corrupt dealings. This will, in turn, embarrass the grown-up people forcing them to live an authentic life. Apart from folktales, which are after educating the kids about virtues, we can now add sequel, Jaadeh, and Gbagba.
The author’s new book
Robtel revealed that her new book Jaadeh was not giving much away, and it will start where Gbagba ends. With Gbagba serving how not to the manual, Jaadeh is kin of a how-to manual whenever you are in need. Jaadeh means honesty and truthfulness. Besides that, the sequel intends to kick start meaningful conversations with children concerning how they can be accountable to the nation, community, the globe, and to themselves.
However, the books will never work for just any person. Just like any other place that has low levels of literacy, radio is considered to be an essential tool for mobilization. Games, radio dramas, and songs for kids should always be the starting point for any national dialogue.
Kids from Africa are considered to be an untapped weapon in the war against corruption.