Crossing the Red Line: These Facebook battles will take Malawi nowhere

“If the serpent bites before it is charmed, there is no advantage to the charmer. The words of a wise man’s mouth win him favor, but the lips of a fool consume him. The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness, and the end of his talk is evil madness. A fool multiplies words, though no man knows what is to be, and who can tell him what will be after him? The toil of a fool wearies him, for he does not know the way to the city.”-Ecclesiastes 10: 11-15 (English Standard Version Bible)

If there is one politician I admire is Malawi’s Vice President Dr. Saulos Klaus Chilima (whether the tag of a politician suits him or that he is just another technocrat holding a political position is a discussion for another day). Mind you my admiration for the Vice President has nothing to do with the political party that ushered him into that position. And I have to say also (for fear of being misunderstood) that this admiration does not extend to his boss Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika. I hold Dr. Chilima in high esteem mainly because of his open mindedness especially when he wants to give his opinion on matters of national interest. Off course at times he has been off the mark, like when he was quoted having said that Malawians are ‘idiots’ for their questioning of the leadership where it is steering the country to, politically, socially and economically.

Though Chilima’s words mostly sound like parables, it is easy even for ‘an educated fool’ (to borrow the words from Leader of Opposition and MCP President Professor Lazarus Chakwera) to understand and derive a meaning from his sayings.

Remember, this other day the Vice President had to openly give a piece of advice to President Mutharika against “taming snakes in the (DPP) party”, saying that would result in his administration losing direction and damaging his image. “Mr President, njoka saweta (snakes cannot be reared)….ena anayesera kuweta nsato koma mapeto ake inawadyera mwana (some tried to rear a python but it ended up killing their own child). Those joining us should just come to help build the nation,” this is what Dr. Chilima said.

What has left me thinking for the past eight months, however, is Dr. Chilima’s advice to Malawians at the dawn of the New Year. To mark the New Year celebration and as per his routine as an ardent Roman Catholic, the Vice President attended mass at St Patrick’s Parish in Lilongwe. During the mass, in his usual style he humbly took the first reading, read out the normal Sunday service announcements and wished the congregation the best of the New Year. Before he went back to his seat he again had a piece of advice for Malawians. Without mincing words he told Malawians to stand for the truth regardless of whether it would pain or hurt someone.

Dr. Chilima went on to ask Malawians to stop clapping hands over everything and anything just because it is coming from the President, his Vice President, Leader of Opposition, Speaker of Parliament, an MP, a Councilor or any other high ranking official. He advised that in 2017 (the year which has only four months to go now), Malawians should stop praising and clapping hands over failed leadership and policies because Malawi is going down the drain due to such type of behavior and complacency. The Vice President pointed out that the habit of clapping hands even for nonsense is what is killing the country. He said this is regardless of the culprit, all what is needed is that Malawians should stop condoning and clapping hands over what Dr. Chilima called mediocrity. This was another simple message coming from the Vice President. For every ‘idiot’, dunderhead and whoever has a brain, the message was clear.

Normally, when such words of wisdom are given, the person giving the wisdom does not force anyone to take his word; it is up to the individual to take it or leave it. This is why when wisdom is shared we normally add that those who have ears have heard it. However, the Holy Bible has no kind words for individuals who do not take wisdom seriously. The Bible calls them ‘Fools’ (Proverbs 1:7).

In my last entry I mentioned about discussions (and intellectual gymnastics) on social media where Malawians have turned social media platforms, mainly the Facebook, into contest fora as to who makes the most intelligent, (and you may add the most stupid argument); mainly in defense of politicians. This immediately reminded me of Dr. Chilima’s wisdom.

Despite such timely wisdom and advice, it is sad that Malawians continue clapping hands for any crap that comes our way. In our everyday social media updates we never miss a chance to defend and even glorify the mediocrity that comes from our political leaders. We continue battling it out amongst ourselves in a quest to show who speaks louder to shield our political masters.

The question that has been bothering me is: What benefit has the country derived from such social media battles apart from just inflating the egos of the politicians, making them believe that they are the best thing ever to happen in our land; and off course, with a few shekels going into the hands of the Facebook account holders. (Believe it, some Facebook account holders are on the payroll of the politicians they defend).

I am not saying that in this democratic era it is a sin for one to defend his political opinion or ideology but what I have noted is that rather than defending our political beliefs and positions most of the Facebook enthusiasts have turned themselves into praise singers, hand clappers and defenders of mediocrity. Instead of using Facebook constructively to bring the much needed change to our country, these people have literary turned themselves into puppets of politicians that they will even clap hands if President Mutharika or Chakwera merely sneezed.

There are many ways that social media could be used to improve the lives of individuals, or as a meaningful tool to change the state of affairs of our country, unfortunately, in our wisdom we have turned this important tool merely as a contest ground for propagating insults to each other in the name of defending our ‘beloved leaders’.

Unfortunately, and this makes my heart bleed with sorrow, the majority of these senseless social media voices are the youths who, with just a little meaningful engagement, could make a difference to this country. Sad, that as we continue with our senseless Facebook battles, the rot in this country goes on at an alarming speed, and the thugs we call our leaders and continue to worship and defend, keep on looting and raping our nation and inflict more damage on us.

With social media, we need faces and voices that can stand up against these heartless and notorious leaders. This is the time that we should start teaching ourselves our responsibilities on issues of democracy, and show our leaders that we are tired of praise singing and worshiping of politicians; rather our major concern is to see our country move forward.

You see, the danger to Malawi is not a single politician, or even a group of them, with ill intent; the most dangerous thing we face as a country is a citizenry that all it knows is praise singing, worshiping, hand clapping, defending and glorifying the leadership and its mediocrity, (more than we do with God), even when it is clear that the country is sinking and going under.

We must bear in mind that in the long run, it is much easier to change our thinking and the way we do things, and through a collective voice, using the tools at our disposal, undo the policies of crooked leadership. However, it is much more difficult to restore common sense and wisdom to a population which has already been deceived and brainwashed with our misguiding social media senseless disputes. Again know that any country can survive having chosen a fool as their leader, but history has shown time and again that a nation of fools is surely doomed. Let us do away with this contest of fools on social media. A competition that prizes only those we praise, worship, glorify and defend and not us as a nation.

Words of wisdom say: “If the snake-charmer is unwise in the practice of his craft, he may be bitten like anyone else.” And I say: if we all remain foolish in our utterances and arguments, defending mediocrity, know this painful truth; no one will be spared but perish while those we defend continue smiling all the way to the bank on our sweat. Let us wise up Malawians.

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6 years ago

Santana, the people you have mentioned are those your party tried tto use to frustrate Chakwera. And DPP thought Chakwera will easily be carried away with their talking. Unfortunately to them, Chakwera is a wise leader, who doesn’t just tolerate everything hence Kabwira’s frustrations now.

6 years ago

Mr Mwikho, you are out of context. That is the problem with Malawians especially those who have party colours. The reporter has clearly explained everything though somehow looks like pointing a finger at the ruling party. But the issue here is that we should stop clap hands for everything. Leaders are from both sides, the ruling and the opposition. Not all is well in MCP but you will see the likes of MKAKA defending everything his boss says. Msowoya cannot talk sense unless he praises Chakwera. Chakwera is never wrong. Who is Kabwila to advise Chakwera? These are the things… Read more »

6 years ago

Sure. Can a normal person defend DPP with all the rot around us?

6 years ago

Thats a wise and accurate words.
To those who hav ears they do undstand………….
We malawians we ‘re the custodians of the land….no outsider wil develop the nation..

6 years ago

Nice words (wisdom)

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