by Lila Bosman

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Photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash

“Welcome to Africa” — were the words from a friend, accompanied by a fistbump, when I arrived home and relayed my disillusionment at being outright manipulated by a traffic cop into bribery. I felt sick with disappointment that I had allowed myself to be intimidated into playing into the hands of a corrupt system. Colluded in the endemic corruption that is eroding the very foundation of our country. Driving away, I imagined I could see the torn pieces of the social contract lying on the sidewalk.

The story above is hardly unique to my own context, give or take a few variables. Almost universally there are stories of people feeling powerless and defeated by seemingly unsurmountable systemic challenges. Power dynamics that feel so far out of reach, so incomprehensible, and so deeply entrenched that a small act of defiance like my reporting the incident feels naïve and useless. It’s no wonder people are collectively checking out in cynicism and closing doors to their worlds where it feels more contained and manageable. Alternatively, they revert to conspiracy theories and finding ways to arm themselves against the total onslaught, or finding comfort in magical thinking and surrendering to forces beyond their control. …


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