On skinning alive a charging President

It has come to my attention, and I’m sure to that of many, that anything vilifying the country’s Head of State or its Office makes good news. On the other hand, anything seemingly in good taste of the person of the President is being equated to a search for some attention, a kind of self-invitation to dine and wine with a regime that is going awry. But I will speak all the same.

President Mutharika

President Mutharika

First, I would like to call the people’s attention to one simple anecdote of how the larger part of the situation has been of our own making.

When democracy came in, all of a sudden our attention switched from being a people that respected collective ownership and responsibility of our affairs to a gathering that began to equate taking of others’ opinion as a sign of weakness. It was within the rut of such jaundiced reasoning that, all of a sudden, men and women began to breed like crabs, and from a population of 9.9 million then, we shot ourselves to a now-staggering 17 million.

Within that, we lost sense of stewardship over things that would sustain us or the generation we were busy building. At the dawn of democracy, money became the focus of greatest attention, and business, the means through which money is made, became the in-fashion thing. Individualism took centre stage, vandalism a favourite pastime. And within the madness, our forests were invaded, and a nation that had prided itself in agriculture accepted that it could continue in that path even in the context of a dwindling forest cover. Water shortage has now become an annual carnivore.

Before 1994 the language was that a great people have to exercise patience to deserve; the profit mentality today has brought in the language of business—if you take time, you are nothing but inefficient and infertile.

Circa twenty years down the line, we have seen men and women, common sense and remorse thrown to the dogs, plundering public resources with that buffalo savagery, spewing such stench as to cause the donors to flee. All of a sudden, the reputation we had had of being a generous, honest example of civilization crumbled before our own eyes. And we are now faced with one painful truth: to make our own affairs and rise as a people resilient or together perish and give others storylines for best-sellers.

As if all this hasn’t been enough, in January this year we witnessed nature lunging into us on a scale never seen before. This, I’m sure was exacerbated by the fact that we had stripped bare our hills and mountains in search for easy money.

Today, almost everything down on its knees, anger has soured, and the leadership is expected to fix it all in no time at all. We have our own understanding of how this fixing should work, and we have no respect for protocol or stages in policy planning and implementation. And what is worse, with the desperation and pressure, our hearts are boiling and understandably, our mouths shooting fire, spitting invective after invective. The President has become the target. He too has the pressure, in fact, huge one, but though we can vomit fire, the President must never do likewise. Reason: we elected him and we must say anything to him and in any manner, and he must never respond. He must never respond because Presidents must never feel angry.

I have heard stories of respectable church men and women fighting in church, stories of congregations demolishing synagogues to share the spoils afterwards, or one church conducting two services—morning service for Pastor A and his sheep, afternoon service for Pastor B and those obedient to his calling.

But it is important that we should understand that as human beings, we are bound to make mistakes, and at times react in a way that might scare others. But what is important as a nation is to understand that we have a common goal, and where we seem not to agree, there is a language we can use to bring ourselves back to a common understanding. If I have great respect for MCP it is all down to this great philosophy on the power of talking.

The civil society, and their leaders get compensated when slapped while the villager who receives a stray bullet during demonstrations wait and wail in his grave for his justice, had already announced an impending demonstration and this even before seeking clarification from the President. Others even went as far as asking for him to stand down. Our Law does not guide us in that fashion, and it is a great principle of our Supreme Law that no person should be condemned unheard. The President got angry and the President was wrong.

Today, we have people who profess to possess the finest of art and knowledge yet cherish not that golden moral scale that helps us predict the magnitude of damage our language can cause the other party. This man we nail with our pen and language is our President, a husband, a member of his Church and Head of State. I could proffer the same defence even for those taunted for being in the opposition. We are not called to demean others; we are called to use civility and humility to iron out our differences. Leaders could wrong us, yes, but there should be a limit on what we say to and of our leaders and elders. There is a language we cannot use even to our own servants; surely there should be a language we must never use to our leaders and elders.

There is a very big problem before us, yes, but we need to put our minds together for the way forward. It takes ages to build that which we can destroy with a single kick of anger. Of course, I’m not condoning that our leaders should bang tables when talking to us; I am pleading for the right manner of responding to our leadership when so they do. I’m pleading for higher reasoning lest we should destroy even the last that is keeping us going. We are in a time where we cannot afford a slight slip; in fact, if ever there was a time we needed to walk together as one people, that time is now. And I thought this is what it meaneth ‘a God-fearing nation’?

*Kingsley Jika is publishing editor at University of Malawi’s Chancellor College writing in personal capacity.

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25 thoughts on “On skinning alive a charging President”

  1. chilipaine says:

    Very well argued…at least to those who understand what has been written!

  2. marvey marvei says:

    Well written Mr Jika but Iam afraid you are addressing people who deal in BLACK and WHITE, GOOD or BAD.
    They are unwilling to accept the complexity of people’s behaviour or the connectedness of events. We are also a people who cannot deal with FACTS we believe in GOSSIP and unverified stories. As a people we deserve the Gossip and half baked stories that the Media gives us, because we have demonstrated that we enjoy such and however disjointed the stories are we do not question their veracity as long as they mention our FAVOURITE perceived ENEMIES.
    THE MALAWI EDUCATION SySTEM PRODUCES INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE GOOD at Memorising PAST Papers but are UNABLE TO think CRITICALLY

  3. HomeBoy says:

    iiieee the leader(s) r nt wronging us bt failing us (Responsibility)… kwinako zabhobho

  4. Phaghlani Vwavwa says:

    Thanks to you all for sticking to the debate rather than digressing by mentioning the tribe of the author. Leave that to the daft and those who are intellectually challenged

  5. rasta says:

    Chanco has gone to the dogs indeed. Argument ikhale “being a god-fearing nation” sure??

  6. Nkuruzinza says:

    You have embarked on a very bleak future

  7. Charombanthu says:

    Good points in the article which I entirely agree with at the same time a lot of waffling in there. You would have done this piece with half what you have written. I wonder how Bakili is feeling now for hand-picking Bingu to lead UDF in 2004….

  8. Nankununkha sadzimva says:

    Thank you Jika for an article that is has more properties of being constructive than divisive. But one painful truth in life is; anger sees no option. Let me remind you one thing, if there is a nation this part of Africa whose people are too polite if not docile and with a great deal of perseverance then it’s Malawi. I think because this trait leaders have, for a long time, taken Malawians for granted if not for fools. To err is human. But making similar mistakes is foolish. Malawi leaders have been making same silly mistakes without any tinge of remorse. As a result citizens patience has now been stretched to the limit. For example, who would imagine after capital hill cashgate scandal we could again experience the NAC/BEAM shit? I mean who can remain patient, especially with the economic hardships the country is going through, to see that unnecessary plethora delegation to UNGA? Sorry! I will sound a bit impolite by asking you Jika, this question; Would you in your right frame of mind, be patient to stand on a queue waiting for your turn to fuck your own wife? Is that what you want Malawians to be in the name of patriotism? You may wish to know that when leaders become patriotic, it doesn’t need any effort for general citizenry to follow suit. Leaders must be exemplary not in words but their action. Remember non verbal communication is more powerful that a prepared speech.

  9. Chemwali chimwene says:

    Jika, one earns respect and never demands it. We feed him, remember. He has to respect us first and we will do likewise. Jika’s thinking gives the leadership a blank cheque adzitinyoza ife nkumangoyang’ana , ukunamatu iwe. Aziononga ndalama zathu ife nkumasowa mankhwala mzipatala, koma ukuganiza bwino? Munthuyu tinamule,ba ntchito and amakakamira kuti akhale president sitinamupemphe. Aaaaaaa

  10. Pat says:

    Thanks so much Mr Jika. I’ve been thinking about the same but I can’t write. Please Malawi for the sake of our great nation lets unite. Let’s not look at personal gains/greed, because it has already proved destructive. If we claim to be God fearing, we should know that it’s God who allows leaders to be. Saul was chosen by men not by God, yet God still declared him his annointed. Christian pastors(or former pastors) and their flock should know better. Lord bless Malawi, proudly malawian

  11. kwake nkuluma says:

    Jika Should Stick To What He Knows Best- Writing Short Stories. His Attempt To Be A Political Analyst Is A Successful Flop. He Hasnt Communicated Anything But Hot Air On This Issue. His Arguements Are As Irrational As They R Illogical. Shame!

  12. Peter27 says:

    Jika go jump! People are angry at APM because of his arrogance and immune to criticism. He always thinks he is right. He knows what the right thing to do is, prosecute the cashgaters, bring back the donors, stop mapwevupwevu, avoid chartering planes for useless people who he can do without,,,,,,,the list is long, but what does he do? He keeps on ignoring all these norms and yet calls for people to tell him how to fix the economy. How stupid is that? Or is it because his eyes are going with old age that he can’t read? So the nonsense you have wrote here is good, but people needs to see this brainless dinosaur acting as an example, not with the arrogance he is doing now. Remember we are forced to accept him as “our” president even though only Mbendera and some mysterious 33% voted for him.

  13. Mphalapala says:

    well said

  14. Stampycious says:

    Thats my English teacher at Malosa secondary school way back in 90’s

  15. Long reading stories some times are not umderstandable

  16. karonga says:

    I MALAWIANS UNITE FOR THE COMMON GOOD. IT WILL BE OF BEST INTEREST TO ALL. LET US WORK LITTLE BY LITTLE LIKE ANTS. SOON AN ANT HILL WILL BE BUILT.

  17. neba says:

    Hey, Jik, defending presudential tantrums? No, don’t. The president must show that he is temperate when in public and speaking to people. There’s no excuse for throwing a tantrum in public. It is shameful and indefensible. He must buy a punching bag, and piunce it before holding a press conference, and may be also take an online course on self management. It is good for his health, and the health of society.

  18. Ru-San says:

    Hello Jika and Fellow Malawians,

    Thanks for trying to air out reason and facts. I totally agree with what you have written. As a country we really need to change the way we do bussiness and the way we act and judge when something is deemed worng.

    You may recall from my comment ealier, I said the problem in Malawi is that everyone wants to be judge, policeman, leader, Mr/Mrs know-it-all, etc.

    For example, if something happens, pple will rush to fubricate and write stories before they verify and start talking nonsense about it (yet they are not spokespersons) – unfortunately exposing the nonsense to the entire world. After that then they will judge (and yet they are not judges), then in no time they want to manhandle the so-called sinner (yet they are not police nor prisons).

    I always ask questions:

    1. Why do we have police, army, judges, parliament, courts, ACB, Umbusman etc. I thought all these arms of Governement are there to serve us when somethng is wrong or when someone is deemed to have done wrong?

    2. Why then should a certain small group of ppl (in this case for example CSOs or other radio stations/journalists) be allowed to be our judges, policemen, courts and – all sorts of positions? In the end they want us to follow what they are saying – demonstations!! Really??

    3. Why do we fail to allow things to follow normal procedures? – we have parliamnet with MPs, speakers, we have judiciary, police, army etc.

    4. Why then should CSOs dicate what is wrong or right? Have the CSOs or other NGOs/Radio stations become Political parties? Are they holier-than-thou?

    5. Why then dont they respect their leaders and try to follow proper channles of airing out wrongs? Is this what we call democracy?

    I have been here abroad – but you dont see such nonsese. Ppl have respect and do things in good manners. They all strives to work hard and help their countries develop.

    6. If that is not enough – why is our media not guarded? Why is it that media can freely write abusive stories and comments against their leaders? Maybe to sell more – but does that help our country develop? Is this what we call freedom of speech?

    7. Where is MISA-Malawi, Midea Council of Malawi to sensor and monitor comments which pple give – those that render sarcastic words agaisnt our own leaders and nation? And when something worng happens – they themselves dont apologise – really? If they do – then it will be a small column in a newspaer (10cm by 6cm) inside maybe on page 3: – yet they prodcuced a wrong story on front page

    I painfully conclude that in Malawi there is moral, fiscal, social, academic, ethical (etc) decay. We need to change this mindset and forge ahead as a country. Few pple (for example CSOs/Radio stations) must not be allowed to dictate what (to them) they think is right, but bad for the entire: – yet we have constituted ams of governement to do those tasks. Let those arms do their job first, – if they fail then maybe we can come in with positive suggestions. Ask yourself this: Why is it that always its the same pple condmenming others? and why dont they also celbrate with others when our leaders do well? Are they jugdes of wrong doings?

    I am not attacking CSOs/any Radio, but rather trying to reason and show some senses. Finally, MISA-MAlawi and Meadia Council of Malawi start monitoring these online news outlets; we cant afford to allow to continue reading comments (otukwana).

    Fellow Malawians – you will understand all these things written by JIKA and myself in the near future; for now it may not make sense.

    THANK YOU

  19. Sapitwa says:

    Joloza
    Learn to read long stories!

  20. Sapitwa says:

    Jika, as a writer, you need not take sides; you need to be impartial, very good narrative but you have spoiled it by praising the MCP for having the great philosophy of the power of talking. I don’t know which MCP the old blood stained MCP or the current ever complaining dormant MCP whose leader has even never attempted to face APM one on one to discuss issues affecting the Nation as APM’s door is open as I mean to believe?

    You also in your opinion allude to banging tables as being angry and impolite. To a neutral person, banging a table could be a sign of anger or sign of trying to emphasize a point what ever, the source can clarify this than concluding.
    I however agree with you but in my own version that: Malawi is in this bad state because we were oppressed for over 51 years and at the dawn of Democracy it was like setting dogs free from chains going wild and mauling people.
    There was no control and things that were working well were changed for worse etc.
    There was also no long term Vision by the one party government which got millions of Dollars aid donor funding for literally everything. Provision for future population and economic growth should have been catered for a new power station, new water plants, diversified Agriculture, expansion on Tourism, expansion on University education etc. There was total neglect by the Government of the day and total lack of control by the preceding government of Democracy. Indeed it is time all responsible organizations: the government, the NGOs, the Church, the Youth you name them they put their differences aside and come to a common table and chart way forward to turn around this country. It can be done!

  21. Zab says:

    We are not a Christian nation to be poorly treated by the so called leaders,they should be the first to check their actions.Mind U Mr Jiya!

  22. Straight talk says:

    DJZM kachizungu ka “Wankers” ndi kachimidzimidzi ka kalekale.Stop calling Malawians Wankers because of the endless mediocrity performance of your nutty professorship friend who seems to be goofing at everything.Malawi is hell with this clueless table thumper friend of yours.Malawians ain’t scared of him,if he can’t sort out the situation,he better resign.We can’t be bankrolling somebody with hard earned tax and at the end getting a kick into our tooth.In every organisation,when your performance is not up to the scatch,you should be ready to get a sack.This Pitala and his bunch of clueless Lomwes are a bunch of failures.Malawi is dead with this people.Nothing seems ticking in this country at the moment.His strong hands are good for being a drum hitter than being our President.

  23. zab says:

    We are a Christian nation not to be poorly treated by the so called leaders, they should be the first to check their behaviours, mind U Mr Jika!

  24. DJZM says:

    You guys who write bad stories about Peter you are wankers, you got small brains

  25. Joloza says:

    Jika, learn to cut the long story short

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