04-12 AUGUST / PRIZREN, KOSOVO

 

04-12 AUGUST / PRIZREN, KOSOVO

“I experienced corruption and it was weird.”

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Photographs by Dakota Hall, Fikret Ahmeti/ Kosovo 2.0

August 11th, 2016

By Dakota Hall/ Kosovo 2.0

Today, few people give thought to the idea of “corruption.” For children, it’s often just another dry item on a list of things to memorize before a history test. If a teacher tries to impress upon the serious weight it used to have, the children nod along, thinking, “Yes, corruption was bad. We get it.”

Though we all know the slow and hard-fought elimination of corruption is regarded as a great human achievement, few people think about how it manifested in daily life when it reigned. Corruption was once so deeply rooted that the people living under it thought about it as little as we do, and few had hope that it could be eliminated.

Today I went to visit the newly opened Corruption Museum, which aims to give visitors a taste of what it was like to live under corruption in the early 21st century.

Before I entered, I was given a bit of fake money. I didn’t know why but it became apparent once I entered. The first thing I saw was a man behind a desk with a stack of diplomas on it. He asked if I wanted to graduate, I said yes and he gestured for the money. In the past, it was possible to buy a diploma, regardless of how much work you’d put into your education. So that’s how I received my degree in Alternative Medicine, a field I’ve always wanted a bullshit degree in.

Another employee then took me outside and showed me some mannequins lined up as if they were queuing to enter. He told me they represented people barred from public services because they were poor. In the past, access to high quality medical care was considered a privilege, not a right. Those who couldn’t afford it were left without help.

After this, I was shown two models of homes, a small one and a much larger one next door. Though building regulations did exist during corruption, corruption meant they weren’t always enforced. The wealthy owner of the larger home was allowed to construct their house even though it towered over the neighboring house, blocking the sunlight it should have been legally guaranteed.

Next they showed me a locked chest, filled with reports of corruption no one was doing anything about. People living under corruption were well aware of their situation, but reports would often just build and build. Corrupt individuals could still get away with nearly anything.

It’s important to remember the lessons of the past, and not take our corruption-free society for granted. Throughout history, thousands of people fought for what we have today. We have to remember why.

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The Corruption Museum is curated as part of the “Corruption” theme of DokuFest 2016, which has featured a series of talks, discussions, film screenings and other events pertaining to corruption.

Kosovo 2.0 is DokuFest’s official media partner. This article is part of a series of pieces written during DokuFest 2016. Kosovo 2.0 is a print and online magazine bringing you voices unfettered and unafraid.