Of Professors’ follies and brats

Professor Bingu wa Mutharika, in the backlash of his ridiculous homicidal war cry, and Professor Peter Arthur Mutharika, following his leaked  gossiping, can rest assured that they are not the only nutty professors looking utterly stupid and clueless in Malawi.

In the on-going mêlée for Academic Freedom, the Chairperson of the Council of the University of Malawi, Professor James Seyani, and his colleagues were on August 25 and 16 having tough time in court trying to fend off contempt charges for allegedly disobeying court orders.

The five council members, plus the renowned poet, university registrar Benedicto Wokomaatani Malunga, face a possible spell in jail or a fine if Justice Sylvester Kalembera finds them guilty of contempt of court.

The man responsible for this entire “Academic Freedom” muddle, Inspector General Peter Mukhito, is meanwhile having a ball. Last time I checked, he was busy doling out cash to the tune of MK60,000 to the police officers he had deployed on July 20 to beat up, maim and kill protesters. It goes without saying that he kept something for himself, for a rainy day, for overseeing the slaughter.

Seyani: Unima Council chair

If the University Council professors were “professors” worth their salt, the entire Academic Freedom conflict should not have reached this point where they are now ending up with eggs on their faces and risking going to jail, while the university students whose development they are supposed to be presiding upon are left idle resulting in some of them experimenting, before their time, with premature parenthood.

Surely Professor Seyani could have utilized the time he has wasted so far on this issue “discovering” new species of edible fungi at the botanical gardens; mass-producing which could have boosted our ailing foreign exchange reserves and economy.

Or alternatively, he could have by now wrapped up an Ethnobotanical Survey in the Misuku Hills – and one can never underestimate the unlocked potential that our diminishing natural woodlands have. Or internationally, he could have been making Malawi’s contribution to the implementation of Convention for Biological Diversity’s  multi-year plan of action for the period 2011-2020.

But look at him. He chose to turn a blind eye when Mukhito was raiding Chilunga Campus. Had he intervened then, called and tutored Mukhito on the sanctity and protocols “mulonda” – no matter his rank – has to adhere to when dealing with matters academic in nature, he would not have been subjected to the humiliation he is now suffering from CCASU lawyers, who in all probability went through the university corridors when he was already an established faculty member.

Further, the issue having gone out of hand due the Council’s ineptitude, Professor Seyani and his Council ill-advisedly decided to dig in and take sides, and for this blunder, they have ended up getting caught on the wrong side.

Instead of embracing the upset lecturers as a parent, assuring them that the Council exists to safeguard academic freedom and will create and foster an atmosphere in which they can discharge their duties without fear, he chose to take the stance of a local warlord – probably encouraged by his boss who relishes warlord-like tactics.

Instead of authoring or reviewing scholarly articles in Academic Journals, the council members opted to be authoring and dispensing dismissal letters like hand-outs in at an MCDE in contempt of the courts of the land.

The problem is that all of Professor Seyani and his hopeless Council’s tactics have not born any fruit save for the possible “sabbatical” he and his mates may have to enjoy in Zomba Prison and the 39 rumoured pregnancies which are said to have emanated from this issue.

If requested to christen those babies, I will gladly suggest three names, and the babies’ middle names will be “Professorial Folly” e.g. James Professorial Folly Ngozo, Peter Professorial Folly Ngozo and Websteria Professorial Folly Ngozo in honour of the Council Chief, the then Minister of Education and the Chancellor of the University.

It is a sad that Professor Seyani and his colleagues are wasting precious time suffering at the hands of the legal fraternity when their time could have been better employed applying the knowledge they gained during their time of uninterrupted studies at the university.

It will be a pity to see my former professors; who taught me a thing or two about amoeba and mushrooms – Professor Seyani; and a lot about the configuration of saccharides – Professor Fabiano; languish in jail for refusing to use their heads, when called upon to do the right thing: defend human rights and fight autocracy.

As Sir Thomas More observed one of the greatest problems of our time is that many are schooled but few are educated. And in Malawi, it seems that we have a lot of these nutty professors whose going to school has not at all resulted in their being educated. The result is mediocrity all over the place.

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