Easter reflection in Malawi: ‘We have met the enemy…’

In a couple of days, President Joyce Banda and her hangers on will be celebrating,with presumable pomp, her clocking a year in the Office of the President of the Republic of Malawi.

A lot has been written on her long journey to that office and I will not repeat what has already been said.

Again, much has been said about the president’s“successes”.If I tried to trumpet these “successes”, I could not outdo several zealots fighting for supremacy to shout these “successes” the loudest.

Social media, especially Facebook, is abuzz with spirited frenzies calculated to make even the blind see the orange success.

President Joyce Banda
President Joyce Banda

On the very same social media, at the other end, are followers of rivals; rivals bent on wrestling power from President Joyce Banda via the ballot in 2014.

Browsing the pages from blue to yellow, one gets the other side of midnight. As far as these pages are concerned, Joyce Banda is a disaster, who has done nothing except messing up everything that was fine, or sort of fine.

If you can call:

  • the long fuel queues she has shortened “fine”,
  • a state of missing but cheap foreign exchange “fine”, and
  • unexplained students deaths – like Robert Chasowa’s “fine”.

Blue and yellow pages agree on this, and naturally their editors are leaving no page unturned in Thesaurus to find adjectives that can describe performance worse than mediocre.

Against such odds, what can one offer by way of an Easter Reflection – a reflection that coincides with the first anniversary of the most loved and /or hated; enchanting and/or dreary – depending on which side of the fence one is standing, President Joyce Banda?

The first caveat is the need for balance lest this be written off as happens with the fanatical stuff one finds on the orange, yellow and blue facebook pages.

By the way, in my view all the yellow, blue and orange postings aregarbage arrayed as propaganda.The effort invested is comparable to seminarians preaching to fellow seminarians – they cannot hope to attract new converts at all.

The fact is Malawi, mother Malawi, is broken. Malawi, mother Malawi, is in trouble. Malawi, mother Malawi, owes practically everyone in town – if the world can be referred to as a town.

In Malawi, curable diseases are killing people –for lack of medicines.

In Malawi, where Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda, more than twenty years ago would boast of bumper crops, there is no maize at the now derelict infrastructures called ADMARC that used to feed the nation from January to December – except in a year of drought.

What can we do as Malawians?

It is not as if we just sitting phwiii, no. Neither are we lazy as intimated by Goodal Gondwe, no. We are quite a busy people. But the first drawback is that we often wrongly diagnose our problems.

Two things follow the wrong diagnosis;

  • We end up coming up withthe wrong disease. As such, whatever treatment is prescribed fails to deal with the underlying ailment, but in fact makes the patient worse off; or
  • We apply the wrong cure to treat the disease, on the rare occasions that we get the disease right.

Now watch this:  because, as a people, we are very gullible and interpret what every stranger in Jerusalem says as the gospel truth, several times we end up with a combination of the two above:wrong drugs prescribed for incorrectly diagnosed ailments.

If you think this is worrisome, then you have another think coming.

Malawians can in fact prescribe the wrong medication, to treat an incorrectly diagnosed aliment, on a completely healthy person! Let us tarry a while and imagine the consequences.

Visualize a perfectly healthy chap who is at a hospital, perhaps just to visit a sick friend. Due to a colossal cock-up, nurses grab him and the doctor pumps into his veins a good dose of some chemical concoction meant to treat a terminally ill patient in a classic mutu odwala katsile, adatema kadzidzi.

What will be the end of this person? Are you shuddering? As I write, I am flabbergasted that we Malawians – even the so called educated – fail to realize that complaining about or celebrating our regressive politics without taking corrective action will not take Malawi anywhere.

This is because we Malawians have met the enemy, and that enemy is us. Unless we fight and overcome this enemy (ourselves) we will continue fighting wrong enemies!

Dr Kamuzu Banda listed Malawi’s enemies, apart from the odd chigawenga, as poverty, disease and hunger. He was wrong.

Bakili Muluzi zeroed in on poverty. At the end of his ten years, only his henchmen and he were better off. No-one could have departed further from the truth.

Then came Bingu wa Mutharika and he nearly nailed it: our number one enemy, he used to say way back in 2014, is corruption. For a while he went about tackling this and results started to show.

BUT the man fell into his own trap and propaganda, was corrupted, and as they say, the rest is history.  ALL the gains quickly reversed themselves, the hero became a zero.

One of my major frustrations following April 2012 is our collective failure to build on April 2012 to lay the foundation for a new Malawi. A Malawi where the old work beside the young, a Malawi where women truly work beside men, a Malawi where we all

  • unlearn poor practices that aid and sustain bad governance,
  • are cleansed from a myopic socio-economic outlook on national development,
  • improve the way we handle our finances – personal and national,
  • change the way we perceive our leaders: political, traditional and otherwise, and
  • stop undermining our right to bring our leaders to account.

Some of the mistakes made by late Dr. Mutharika, and being repeated by Joyce Banda, are somehow now “ok”. In other words, what Malawians could not tolerate under Dr. Mutharika they can happily clap hands as long as it’s Joyce Banda calling the shots.

This is bull, idiotic, madness and despicable because in a decent society,a wrong done by X should remain a wrong if done by Y.

To put things in perspective Dr Mutharika amassed unexplained wealth. Not one, not two, but twenty youthsperished when Malawians marched to deliver a petition in which among other things, they were requesting him to explain his wealth.

President Joyce Banda is in all probability stashing millions. She has adamantly refused to re-declare assets and developments surrounding big contracts now explain why.Never mind the shamelesspretext she was given by Ralph Kasambara SC.BUT only when she builds a “mpumulo wa bata”, is when we will start asking questions and agitating to march!

Have I just defined idiots? God forbid!

Since I am supposed to rush to prayers, I will stop here. But as one well known poet, Mutabaruka, would say, this reflection is to be continued in your mind.

My final word is that: we Malawians have met the enemy, and that enemy is in each one of us. The day we will learn to stop undermining our right to bring our leaders to account, is the day we will sing a new song and may even start thinking about a new flag.

We have met the enemy and he is us.

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