Articles & Reviews
Corruptababble director Ceri Dingle was interviewed by Brendan O'Neill, editor of Spiked Online, on Wednesday 26th September 2007 for an episode of Battle Talk. This is a series of interviews that is currently being broadcast online as a taster to the issues that will feature at the Battle of Ideas festival on 27-28 October 2007. Watch the programme now.
Please click the titles below to see each review of Corruptababble:
Review by Steve Daley
Perception is everything, well that seems to be the message in this pithy documentary of corruption and nepotism in Africa. It is a bittersweet irony that two young South Africans - armed with a video camera on a gap year in the UK - have exposed the anti-democratic shenanigans of Transparency International and the "good governance" industry more cruelly to ridicule than all of the most well researched public service documentaries broadcast on the subject.
Corruptababble reveals that the corrupt African leader is a strawman that has been created by the West to chastise African governments in the name of the poor. Democratic accountability through social contestation within African nations - aka national self-determination - is relegated, instead weasal words like transparency and accountability, as measured by perception indices and financial audits, are forced on African nations by anti-corruptionistas like Blair, Brown and Bono.
Review by Sadhavi Sharma
Corruptababble is a brilliant attack on the much entertained view amongst public and western aid organisations that corruption is blighting Africa's development. While UN agencies, DFID and donor agencies produce reams on good governance and need for transparency in Africa - western manufactured virtues on which intervention rides, WORLDwrite's Corruptababble on the contrary argues for trust, against western intervention, and challenges the myth that Africa's development is stalled by its own leaders' self-interest and corrupt practices. On the contrary, Corruptababble reveals the dangers of the corruption obsession and its part in thwarting Africa's chances for any real development. The film rakes up current prejudices and cynicism, and pushes for some serious rethinking.
Review by Kyle Duncan
Corruptababble very quickly makes the viewer realise that even an issue surrounded by such consensus, such a sense of "of course it must be so", can be questioned and, is this particular case, urgently needs to be. We follow two South Africans, Brendon and Yolanda, on their investigative mission around the UK, as they attempt to find out not only what people think about corruption, but also why they think it. Combined with satirical sketches that mock Western perceptions of African corruption, as well as several enlightening interviews, the film convincingly and humorously advises Westerners to reject popular notions about corruption, not only due to lack of evidence but also because it skews priorities for Africa – and the developing world more broadly – to disastrous effect. Obsessing over corruption means that serious money for serious development (without Western strings attached) will never reach the places that need it most. Furthermore it justifies Western intervention, intrusion and even invasion, all in the name of democracy (for if African governments are hopelessly corrupt then who else can save them but us?).
What I found most impressive about Corruptababble were Yolanda's persistent requests that people provide facts and examples to back up their claims that corruption is one of Africa's biggest problems. It becomes clear that perceptions of corruption – whether they come from anti-G8 protestors or London shoppers - are in no way influenced by facts, examples or knowledge about corrupt practices. This realisation single-handedly debunks Transparency International's entire method for measuring corruption: a "Corruption Perception Index" that rates levels of corruption across the globe based on people's perception of their country's government and politicians. Apparently a shocking lack of evidence of corruption can be attributed to the fact that it is inherently a covert and secretive practice; never could it in fact be that corruption just isn't as common as we may think. If statistics on corruption from an organisation as large and well-resourced as Transparency International are based largely on perception and opinion – rather than on facts and evidence – then obsessing over corruption becomes as pointless and useless as it is harmful for those being accused. What needs to be studied and challenged is not corruption itself but our perceptions of it.
Corruptababble mixes investigative journalism with comedic satire to demonstrate that the best thing we can with the Western obsession with African corruption is not merely question or interrogate it, but dismiss it outright.
Review by Robert Panners
Corruptababble is a refreshingly new kind of film which invites the viewer to question the typical perceptions of Africa: as a continent crippled and paralysed by corruption. The film tries to get the audience to look critically at why, in the developed world, we have such automatic assumptions about Africa as a corrupt nation; and whether we are asking the right questions.
The film is engaging throughout and is thoughtfully put together as we travel with Brendan and Yolanda on their quest to gage the views and opinions of the British public on this issue. Talking to people from Edinburgh in Scotland, during the time of Live8, to Wood Green in London, the film has a fluidity and definite sense of purpose in trying to understand and get to the root cause of people's attitudes towards Africa.
The film also offers some insights into the sorts of measures that can be taken to enable Africa to develop and prosper as a continent – such as stronger political relationships with other developed countries and investment from business to boost economic growth. Alas such advances are all the more hindered due to Africa's "corrupt" label.
Corruptababble is an informative progressive piece of film making. The discussions and interviews are extremely interesting and absorbing, and the film is made all the more watchable by its two presenters. It opens the debate and gets people thinking about whether the right questions are being asked. Instead of taking the issue of corruption in Africa as standard, the kinds of questions we should be asking are: "Is corruption in Africa an issue?", "What are the issues in Africa?" and "What can be done to reconcile them?". It could even be said that the film is the start of a larger debate looking at how people in the developed world obtain their perceptions of Africa, and also what are the next steps that need to be taken in order for Africa to become a more successful and prosperous continent.
Corruptababble is an excellent film and I would highly recommend it.
Robert Panners has studied English Literature & Science at QPCS and is currently employed at the Discovery Channel in London.