“It is the role of good journalism to take on powerful abusers, and when powerful abusers are taken on, there’s always a bad reaction. So we see that controversy, and we believe that is a good thing to engage in”-Julian Assange-Australian Activist
The first entry of Crossing the Red Line came out on August 29, 2017 and in that entry, I took time to explain my mission and the mission of this column. And all my explanation was summed up by this quote from William Lloyd Garrison:
“I am aware, that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. No! No! Tell a man whose house is on fire, to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hand of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest – I will not equivocate – I will not excuse – I will not retreat a single inch – AND I WILL BE HEARD.”
In short this column is inspired by William Lloyd Garrison who was a prominent American abolitionist, journalist, suffragist, and social reformer best remembered as one of the founders of the American Anti-Slavery Society (through his writing he promoted “immediate emancipation” of slaves in the United States). He also left an indelible mark in the history of America for his involvement in a number of causes-not only fighting against slavery-but he was also involved in a number of bodies fighting against the unfair system then. In the 1870s, Garrison also became a prominent voice for the woman suffrage movement.
In that entry, I personally invited everyone on board with a promise that if our politicians (in government or opposition) keep on crossing the red line with our lives; with our well-being; with our health systems; with our education; with our finances; and with everything that matter to move our Malawi forward; I will live Garrison’s promise.
And today, I have to add that Crossing the Red Line does not in any way support any political party; the writing here is solely to save the greater good of our nation. Crossing the Red Line is not here to ensure that any candidate or party wins the votes in 2019; its mission is to ensure that whoever wins in 2019 should be a leader or a party that sees the bigger picture more than personal gratification or enrichment. The mission of Crossing the Red Line is to be frank so that even the current ruling party the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and its leadership can mend their ways for a better Malawi.
However, having gone this far, my observation is that Malawians are a difficult lot. Malawians are a people not ready to take criticism as an avenue to offer them an alternative view that could help them mend their ways or shape their destiny. All what Malawians would like to always hear are songs of praise even when things are not alright. We are a people, who are not even ashamed to heap ourselves with praises even when it is clear that all what we have to show is rot and more rot; that is from our government leadership going down to our opposition leaders, corporate leaders, civil society activists, business community down to an ordinary man in the street.
This is why although I would be the last one to applaud USA President Donald Trump’s ‘shithole’ remarks, I am tempted to agree with him because what is seen in Malawi is a true reflection of most of the African countries (I am using ‘most’ because I know that there are a few countries in Africa who along their leadership are doing a great job and trying their best in a bid to move forward and certainly Trump’s ‘shithole’ remarks would be out of place in these African countries but not Malawi and many more others).
Some have seen Trump’s words as mere hollers from a mad President who is known for his pathological racism that at any given opportunity he is ready for a verbal assault on African countries, the continent’s leaders and other also not so fortunate countries around the world like Haiti, Mexico etc. However, wearing sober lenses I see some sense in this madness.
Yes, the comments rightfully attracted global condemnation and fury starting from the United Nations, the African Union and several African countries with some countries on the continent going as far as summoning US ambassadors to issue official diplomatic protests. As has been the case with our modern technology, social media ‘commentators’ and ‘citizens’ alike were not left out in the frenzy with some agreeing with Trump, others disagreeing with him while the most daring went as far as applauding, defending and clapping hands in support of the USA President.
In the USA, the reaction to President Trump’s remarks was also varied and mainly dependent on which political divide one belongs to.
Hate or like him, one thing about Trump is his forthrightness. He is a man who is true to the cliché- calling a spade a spade and not a big folk. He is a man who thrives on being honest and true to himself.
Just imagine during a March 2006 appearance on “The View” with his daughter Ivanka, Trump when asked how he would react if Playboy magazine were to ever feature Ivanka’s picture on its cover. Mr. Trump responded: “I don’t think Ivanka would do that inside the magazine, although she does have a very nice figure. I’ve said that if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I would be dating her.” This is a man who is so direct in his words on issues-private or public. All what he wanted the world to know is that he really believes that his daughter is so beautiful and has a fine figure that every man, even himself, would not resist. This was a shocker even to Joy Behar, one of the show’s co-hosts, who exclaimed, “Stop it! Oh, that’s so weird. Stop it!” But that is what Trump is and this time around he just wanted to be as truthful as possible about Africa and other equally backward countries.
Equally, all of us might have been shocked with such brutal frankness; but are we surprised? No. Some of us are not surprised, on two fronts. First, that is what Trump is all about and secondly, I think, especially us in Africa we have nothing to show that we do not deserve such derogatory definition of our being.
Yes, we might dismiss it as racist and bigotry, and be angry as much as we can that the USA President has gone overboard but let us as a continent not attempt to hit back with another verbal tirade. He has indeed thrown it to us brutally but the only way out of this; let us with our actions and a rethink of our destiny, throw it back to him, brutally and ruthlessly as well so that one day he would be forced to swallow his words in shame.
Unfortunately, if as a continent we continue having leaders who thrive on lies, self praises, corruption and theft of public resources we will forever be labelled ‘shithole’ countries. And to get rid of this accolade is a task for every proud African who is really angry about this ‘shithole’ remarks. I take it that Trump’s words came out of his own pain and anger over African countries and other states that are struggling and wallowing in poverty despite abundant resources. It is apparent in his words that Trump seems to feel the pain on our behalf because he knows our potential. Unfortunately, as Africans we are a pathetic people which seem not to feel the pain when things are going bad.
We are a continent that will sit and watch while politicians are busy ruthlessly plundering and making a big kill out of the continent’s resources and applaud and clap hands for them when they go out to western or eastern countries to beg for aid. And surely, we will continue being the ridicule of the Trumps of this world if we continue having leaders whose only preoccupation is cooking figures to portray that economically we are growing and on the right path instead of showing the real results of such blossoming economy.
We will continue being the laughing stock of Trump and his buddies, if we go on having leaders who only ‘talk’ of inflation being at its lowest point; interest rates going down; our foreign currency reserves being healthy; and that we are highly rated destination for investors because we have restored economic confidence, while evidence is there in the people who are suffering both in our cities and towns and real figures show no increase in tourists but a decline.
Honestly, I don’t understand why we are surprised and angry on this Trump ‘Shithole’ assault. Instead of being surprised and angry, let us clean our act. All our anger and frustrations should be directed at making our countries better and turn then from ‘shitholes’ to something adorable. Hitting back at this ‘honestly’ mad Trump, will just divert us from the real problems that for a long time (before Trump said it) have made our countries the ‘shitholes’ of this world.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :