“…Oh! Our little land of beloved landlocked Malawi,
How still we see thee lie in the deep abyss of deceitful leadership!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleeping citizen,
The silent bright stars go by.
Forlorn! The very word is like a bell
To toll me back from thee to my sole self
Adieu! The fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is fam’d to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! Adieu! Thy plaintive anthem fades
Past near meadows of lies, over the still stream of truth.
Up the hill-side; and now ‘tis buried deep in Cash-gate scandal
Across the valleys of an administration, so desperate
Was this the vision?
Is it a night mare or a waking dream?
Fled is the music: – Do I wake or sleep?”
Malawians are confused. Very confused. They just don’t know what to believe anymore. There is so much going on, so much that is being said. The state of their confusion is what William Shakespeare delineated in the following lines below from the well-known speech in Hamlet III:
“…To be, or not to be – that is the question…
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die, to sleep…”
Amidst the sea of confusion, it appears our political leaders are fond of using figurative language – which is a general term for a group of linguistic devices called figures of speech.
For starters, a figure of speech is a word or phrase which is not meant to be taken literally in the context in which it is being used. If, for example, after the break-up of a sexual relationship, someone announces that ‘there are many more fish in the lake, no one is likely to take it as a comment about fish stocks in Lake Malawi.
As this example indicates, figures of speech occur in all kinds of language uses and situations. We, as human beings are good at knowing when to interpret something figuratively but are worthwhile trying to make it clear how to do this.
We know that a word, phrase or statement is figurative when it cannot be taken literally in the context in which it is being used. Some figurative words or phrase cannot be literally true in any circumstances.
When we hear the commonplace phrase ‘love is blind’ we do not stop and wonder how love could have eyes and how it could be blinded. The statement cannot be literally true, and we automatically understand it in a figurative sense.
South African president Jacob Zuma is typical example of not how to use figurative language out of context. There was no need for him to mention Malawi in what he was saying. There was no meaning, literally or figuratively – just sheer executive stupidity.
Of Threats and the truth
In the same vein, the statement that someone is issuing threats to the president is neither literally making sense or figuratively applicable. There is more to it than meets the naked eye.
As Malawians and politicians from the opposition mount increasing pressure on the JB administration to bring the senior members of her administration to book over the cash-gate scandal, President Joyce Banda has resorted to her trademark political gimmick – sympathy appeal.
On Monday, October 21, President Joyce Banda sent her newly appointed Minister of Information; Brown Mpinganjira to make a public announcement that Her Excellency Joyce Banda has been receiving threats from unknown individuals.
So the whole country does not have a machinery or capacity to trace anonymous callers? If this is a joke it is not funny. We are talking about the head of state here not an ordinary man in the streets.
If she is under threat, then who is safe.
The million dollar question is; threats from whom?
If there is indeed someone out there – that person must be valiantly brave enough and undoubtedly has got some balls of steel – to dare the pinnacle of the country’s national security and threaten the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed forces.
Granted. Someone issued threats as claimed by the Information Minister. Let us buy the dummy. Now, the question is how the hell did he or she get the president’s number? Does this imply that our dear president just gives her phone number to anyone who asks for it? Or it that the Aide De Camp (ADC) is so lackadaisical that he gives out the President’s number to every caller?
Oh, yeah we do not expect that the whole President should be answering calls that are not listed or “sanitised” by the president’s security detail, the ADC.
If it’s through switchboard then the president’s secretary or is personal assistant pick every other call for the country’s Landlady and can surely make personal judgments as to which calls needs her Excellency’s attention.
As for direct lines on her mobile phone then no number can come from an identified caller. It is folly for us to believe that anyone can just call the president direct – those that call her are either so close to her or people of high authority who cannot go through anyone to talk to the president. There is no need for press conferences to tell us that someone is threatening our dear president, our beloved Chiwongolero.
All phone calls that are put through to the president are automatically put on ‘override’ mode by the service providers meaning that no incoming call to the president can be withheld.
Of course we have heard threats issued to presidents such as American President Barack Obama, but the the difference is that other leaders have received threats indirectly not as direct as is the case with our president report. And no press conferences are held to announce that a head of state is under threats. All they do is but track down the moron and bring him to book. Bingo!
Now I ask; is all this happening because she is a woman? Kukhala m’zimayi sichifukwa!
Wait a minute, could it be someone very senior in government who had a direct access to the president who is making these threats?
Either way, it does not make sense, literally or figuratively. Unless you tell us you know who this person is.
It is clear that the Information Minister wanted to accomplish two things. The first was to draw sympathy from a public that has already been robbed of billions of kwachas, positioning President Banda as a victim with the intent to recruit sympathy votes in the upcoming election.
The second reason was to detach Her Excellency the President, her close associates and family from any criminal liability or responsibility in the cash-gate scandal.
Of fears and speculations
The fear has also been pronounced in the Vice President’s statement on government actions regarding cash-gate made in the national assembly on the same 21st October. Is this just a coincidence or just a mere happenstance?
Veep, Khumbo Kachali on two occasions made mention of ‘smear campaigns’ but expectedly failed to indicate who was being smeared in the social media, a platform established to process social concerns using both factual and speculative information.
Who is fooling who?
Malawians are aware that since her ascent to the presidency, president Joyce Banda has repeatedly tried to use her gender as a ground to avoid addressing matters.
When asked about declaration of her assets, the African most powerful woman, well according Forbes, lashed out at journalists asking them whether they were insisting she declares her assets simply because she is a woman. Give us a break, the only difference between a man and a woman is only just biological and never mentally or physically.
Our beloved President, Joyce Banda, has also repeatedly and unashamedly told Malawians that she survived marital abuse, naming her late husband and father of her children who clearly cannot defend himself – Scandalizing the dead.
These sympathy appeals which have now become traditional responses to public demands for action and accountability testify to the degree of guilt borne by the administration.
Of sympathy and political mileage
In everyday language uses, Malawians are generally quite good at deciding whether something is to be understood literally or figuratively but when it comes to political speeches many Malawians seem to put this skill to one side.
With the kind of leader they have in Joyce Banda who can say this today with one side of the mouth and refute to have said the same the next day with the other side of the mouth, they now often assume that anything said need an interpretation in order for them to find the hidden meaning.
We need our own “Maharaj” for the Presidency may be?
The easiest way to understand political rhetoric is but to interpret the words said not literally but to hear metaphorically.
Whatever the case, that someone is threatening the president does not make sense.
Friends, fellow Malawians, countrymen and women, lend me your ears. Let us not enjoy to be told the lies, till the sea of truth itself flows from those in power.
Is it true that our president’s life is great in danger or is this just another case of a desperate sympathy plea by a cornered government?
I sign out with Hopkins:
“…I have desired to go
Where springs of truth not fail,
To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail
And a few lilies blow
And I have asked to be
Where no storm comes,
Where the commonsense swell in the havens dumb
And out of the swing…”
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