The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born

by Ayi Kwei Armah
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What are the symbols that portray corruption in The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born?

The commuter bus is a symbol that portrays corruption in The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born. Its driver shows himself to be corrupt by pocketing the overpayments from the fares he's collected. He himself is a symbol of the corrupt political leadership of post-independence Ghana.

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On a very basic level, one could reasonably argue that the commuter bus in The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born symbolizes post-independence Ghana. The driver of that bus represents the nation's corrupt political leadership, and the unnamed man is the average Ghanaian, an innocent victim of the rampant corruption that disfigures every aspect of public life in this country.

Corruption is aptly symbolized by the actions of the bus driver once he's reached the end of his journey. Believing himself to be all alone, he helps himself to overpayments from his day's takings. From the highest to the lowest, this kind of behavior is second nature to many Ghanaians. For some, it's a matter of survival; for others, it's an expression of greed.

In any case, the bus driver's pocketing of overpaid fares is a perfect symbol of just how endemic corruption has become in Ghana and of how it poisons even the most simple and straightforward of business transactions.

As the man was asleep at the back of the bus, he never saw the driver helping himself to the cash. In itself, this is symbolic of how so many Ghanaians turn a blind eye to the endemic corruption around them, even as it makes their lives more difficult.

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