“Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.” ― Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays
Esteemed Ladies and Gentlemen, I allegedly am an outsider writer, so I am writing this from the perspective of somebody who doesn’t completely fit in. But, at the same time, I verily can state here without fear or contradiction the fact that I don’t know of any good writer who is not an outsider writer.
Antonio Tabucchi, once said that Xenophobia manifests itself, especially against civilisations and cultures that are weak, because they lack economic resources, means of subsistence or land. So nomadic people are the first targets of this kind of aggression.
I cannot agree anymore.
I strongly believe that no one needs to be reminded of racism, xenophobia, the nativism and, yes, tribalism and nationalism. These shouldn’t even be discussed in this day and age. These and many other vices, such as corruption, abuse of power, theft of public money and political hooliganism should not be given leverage and or an environment to flourish.
I find wisdom and solace in the words of one of the world’s great thinkers, Greek Philosopher Pluto who once said: “Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.”
Here, I just wanna say that a good character is important to human kind. It defines us and that is why I am here imploring each and everyone to harbour and savour souls with good character and always be kind to others including those we don’t know. Nobody is born knowing anyone. We learn to know people as we grow.
They say what makes a home desirable by others is a hearty welcome, big and warm enough to encompass everyone.
As a nation Malawi has always been admired by others for our unsurpassed warm hearted hospitality and our willingness to be of a courtesy to others.
In fact we are not called the warm heart of Africa for nothing.
We have always provided a safety net for those that have been fleeing away from horrors seeking refuge and we have always welcomed visitors with an exceptional and excellent gesture of empathy.
However the question has been if we still have the capacity to continue with the whole exercise.
With the high rising cost of living and unemployment, we are seeing many people raising concerns and coming out against the idea of allowing refugees to integrate into our communities.
The moral nature, or guiding beliefs of those who are raising these concerns are purely based on the underlying accusations that refugees are taking away our jobs and businesses.
I personally have been grappling with few questions trying to establish context for the logic behind such assumptions.
In my view such inhumane and pitiless disregard for humanity is unnecessary and uncalled for.
But that’s my opinion and I know it could be very unpopular with many. I believe it is important and better to have an opinion that is right than a popular train of thought that stops and decks at every stop.
When people start calling for children and women to be caged, of which some of them were born and raised in Malawi and do not know any other place to call home, in other words they are Malawians by all means and standards, that’s just plain cruelty and heartlessness.
The other point that is usually cited is that foreign nationals are a security risk even when there has been no substantive evidence for such claims.
It is a logical fallacy to just come up with an argument without real facts.
Our government has not yet finished working on its labour market information system and without that kind of tracking mechanism we can not verify how many jobs are created or lost.
We don’t have a real catalogue for jobs and opportunities. There’s is no directory of what’s available outside the limited space government has reserved for SMEs.
So, on the contrary it’s we Malawians that are flooding other countries as the largest economic migrant group.
Our young people are leaving for other places like RSA in search of a better life because there are no jobs in Malawi
What’s even totally shocking is that this level of disregard is taking place with the connivance of our government officials who are secretly pushing this immoral agenda to incite hate and violence in such an unjustifiable way so that they can score a cheap political point.
Let’s be honest, the dangling red meat is there just to distract and stop us from following up on their failures and corruption.
As for security, clearly the most dangerous toxic spill that we have to be aware of is that one from Mozambique with reports of the Jihadists being able to recruit from our border towns.
We also have a misplaced policy of immigration with porous entry points that have allowed immigrants to sneak into our homeland easily.
We are busy up in arms against our fellow African brothers and sisters who are creating their own jobs and businesses, yet on the other hand we have allowed our Asian brothers to import cheap labour from Covid infected India regardless of the high risk.
Clearly there is a lacking element of persuasion in this argument. And I repeat, Contradictory to the usual fear that refugees will take away jobs, the truth paints another picture.
Let us not cry foul about xenophobia only when it’s being perpetrated against our people in other countries and yet when it’s our turn we seem to see nothing wrong with it.
The answer to our ever increasing problems with deficiencies in labour and security lies within ourselves.
Shifting blame and playing victims won’t help us if we don’t challenge ourselves enough to be more self innovative in technology and human capacity development.
Our perspective and perceptions should not find root in anything that harbours a deep-seated aversion for anything that exposes our very own weaknesses and corruption and those who seem to be doing better than us.
These refugees from Rwanda and Burundi are our brothers who have been with us for so long.
If there’s a crime they have committed is that of exposing our lack of competitive nature and how we fail to see opportunities in certain gaps that our friends are able to move into.
Real answers will come only when we do a real soul searching and commit ourselves to seeking real lasting solutions.
Am glad that recently we have been noticing a big shift in the the way the Tonse government has been rolling out serious development projects.
It appears President Chakwera and his government have successfully began looking at some attainable strategic sector-specific reforms.
This is what we have been calling for. With this kind of focus on labour intensive sectors, we have a greater potential for economic diversification.
We will definitely create that new spark for a rapid job growth.
I would like to tip my hat off to you Mr president for keeping your word.
When you addressed the nation during the independence celebrations you promised that moving forward yours would be less talk but more action.
We were indeed tired of those well packaged speeches with nothing tangible to show for.
But now with what we have so far seen, our optimism that pa ground pasintha is growing.
I would like to further appeal to you in a special way that we consider moving beyond just agri-business.
We must, and have to explore new opportunities in other avenues like tourism and micro-enterprises that supports the demographics that are in the job seeking phase.
For example, if we made heavy investments in tourism, the hospitality sector alone would trigger a chain of supply demand for food and other supplies.
Our farmers would have a direct and readily available market.
In return our logistics and transportation industry will be required to put more drivers on the road and this will force the building of infrastructure to be used like improved roads.
In no time our young people would be having opportunities in construction works, our engineers would be able to employ a lot of contractors and suppliers for materials and stationary.
Americans did the same investments after the Great Depression by embarking on the interstate highway system construction.
Late Hastings Banda also created a vibrant economy with such a labour intensive approach by constructing the M1 road which was to connect produce and supplies from the north and south to the available market centers and auction holding centers.
This is what intentional government expenditure programs can achieve.
So bring on those bullet trains and mega cooperatives.
Our National budget as a statement of intent should reflect such intentions and project such roadmaps for job creation.
As the old adage goes; “Chakudza sichiyimba ng’oma” maybe should we also add to say: “Linda madzi apite ndiye uziti ndadala”
Let’s remember that what happened to our neighbours in Mozambique or our distant cousins in Rwanda or other places are not isolated instances.
We should count ourselves blessed by all means, but we should not take it for granted and think that we are smarter than the rest.
It’s purely by grace, folks!
Before I go, let me leave you with some words of wisdom as per aptly said by Dennis Prager: “Goodness is about character – integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage, and the like. More than anything else, it is about how we treat other people.”
So, I ask; are we just xenophobic?
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