Malawi Politics: Beware of Trojan Horses

“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” – Arthur Conan Doyle, Writer

The Trojan Horse is found in Greek mythology in the story of the “Trojan War” which is referenced in Virgil’s “Aeneid.”

The story is essentially about the strategy used by the Greeks to enter the city of Troy and end a long-running conflict. The key point is chicanery whereby the Greeks deceitfully constructed a huge wooden horse as a peace offering and hid a select force of their best soldiers inside.

The horse was left outside the city gates and the Trojans pulled it into their city as a victory trophy, oblivious to the danger within. The Trojans then went on a celebratory binge and, in their drunken state, were easy prey for the Greek army that crept out of the horse in the night, took over and destroyed the city of Troy, thus decisively ending the war.

 First Guard: “Id say its some sort of take-over attempt.”

Second Guard: “I’d be careful of spyware.”

In light of the event referred to above, “Trojan Horse” has obtained a common meaning as being any trick or strategy that causes a target to mistakenly invite an enemy into a secure area or space with potentially disastrous consequences. The intended victims are often quite unaware of the impending danger and will, at times, illogically lend a deaf ear to any well-meaning words of advice.

This attitude is well-recorded in the story of the Trojan War where the Trojan high priest Laocoon casts doubts on the so-called peace-offering of the horse and warns his fellow Trojans, saying,”Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes” which loosely means,”Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.”

He pays for his words with his life as the merry-making Trojans ignore his fears and advice in the heady euphoria of assumed victory. Even Helen of Troy guesses the plot but her warnings are not heeded by the drunk, elated, battle-worn Trojans.

Trojan Horse strategies are applied in many ways. For example, in very competitive industries like manufacturing of smart phones or computer chips, companies may send their employees to work in competitors’ companies. Alternatively, they may ask their consultants to apply for job’s advertised by the competition.

In a family business, the family can deliberately create and publicise problems to allow some members to join a similar business. The idea is to surreptitiously infiltrate the target organisation in order to gain an advantage by obtaining knowledge of its workings, systems and secrets in order to defeat it at a later stage. Industrial espionage is a huge issue in the developed world and businesses are always on the look-out for suspicious behaviour within and outside of their organisations.

Note that even voluntary associations can be destroyed by Trojan horses. An association, especially in the early days of formation, may be anxious to have new members and any person willing to join them may be welcomed. But who knows, a Trojan horse may join it for purposes of obtaining valuable insider information and/ or creating confusion or circumstances that can stifle its further growth or even to take over the organisation.

Political parties may also be subjected to Trojan horse strategies. Perhaps examples may even abound in our environment. Even customers and employees can work as Trojan Horses by supplying competitive intelligence to the competition.

All in all, the issue is that as investors, businesses, politicians and, well, people, we always need to be aware that there are unscrupulous individuals and organisations out there that are intent in subverting us by deceptive means and, sometimes, by the time we realise what is happening, it is too late. So, always heed any warnings given by well-wishers; it is better to err on the side of caution than to be destroyed.

To paraphrase the words of the Trojan high priest, Laocoon, “”Timeo Malawianos et dona ferentes.” – Beware of Malawians bearing gifts!

Read my lips.


Contact: Chikavu James William Mwanalilenji Nyirenda

[email protected]

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