A person who uses flattery to win favour from individuals wielding influence is called a sycophant, a fawning parasite. Such a fawning parasite is the Minister of Sports and Culture, Grace Chiumia.
Lately at a Mulhakho wa Alhomwe event, in a fit of hysteric seizure of sycophantism, dubbed “president for life” His Excellency Peter Mutharika and she has been quick to apologise, defending her gaffe as a slip of the tongue, which our good jolly psychologists call Freudian slip.
We all, once in a while, lapse into slips of the tongue and psychologists tell us that it is normal, matter-of-factly. However slips of the tongue tell us more about our innermost or hidden thoughts preoccupying our mind at every moment.
We will not belabour the point; Freudian slips don’t just occur from the blues; they tell a little more about the victim’s subconscious thoughts.
We need to know that dictators have a common denominator. Often, dictators have totalitarian regimes, keeping their power through control of the mass media. Totalitarian dictators also use secret police and spy on the citizens of their state as well as restrict or completely remove their personal freedoms.
In Malawi, and many African countries dictators have usually ruled subtly exploiting cronyism and nepotism, appointing their kin and kith into government positions, rendering systems of checks and balances non-functional and making no governing body to check his power. Many of these dictators foster cults of personality, a form of hero worship in which the masses are fed propaganda declaring their leader to be flawless and in some cases, divine or divinely appointed.
Truth be told. Sycophantism is hero worship. Hero worship takes a myriad of forms. The country’s first president Dr Kamuzu Banda was essentially the sole subject of all forms of art created in the country. Schoolchildren were taught to give thanks to Kamuzu, the source of all of their blessings, as part of their training. Kamuzu, too, had slips of the tongues. Those people who have lived long enough in Malawi will tell us Kamuzu was ever heard sometimes uttering words like, “They will be meat for the crocodiles”.
At the height of his reign, Kamuzu is said to have been instructing his henchmen to throw his critics hog-tied or packed in sacks to the croc-infested areas of the Shire River where they would suffer a humiliating and cruel death. “They will be meat for the crocodiles” was a slip of the tongue, a Freudian slip that needn’t come out of the old man but somehow it was uttered from time to time. Once they’re in power, it usually takes a lot for a dictator to step down.
Examples of how a good man is made bad abound. Things began with evil must end with evil. In the play by English playwright William Shakespeare, Macbeth, in brief, Macbeth was not guilty to some extent. Macbeth committed the murders. Were it not for Lady Macbeth tossing around with her husband’s emotions, the first murder would have been averted. Lady Macbeth brought her husband to the limit, so she could get what she thought her and Macbeth deserved.
Macbeth, we are told, did the first deed only to show his loyalty for his wife. However, he also performed the procedure of his own ambition. In play, we see Macbeth murdering additional people for his own defence and to keep his status as King. He courted his untimely demise with these continual murders. Were it not for Lady Macbeth’s pressure and the predictions by the three weird sisters, Macbeth would still be a loyal and highly acclaimed soldier that he happened to be in the beginning of the play.
In the final analysis, we got to be very, very careful with what we utter in our pursuit ofof sycophantism. One Grace Chiumia is a classical sycophant; yes a self-seeking servile flatterer Malawi can do without. Never ever again she lapse into that Freudian slip, life president to refer to a sitting President. Never bring Peter Mutharika to the limit. Never.
We have had enough during the era of tinpot dictator Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda. There are better ways to show your loyalty but surely not this life president nonsense.