Opinion: Where do you draw the line between Manganya and Usi?

The moment it was announced on Thursday evening that Minister of Natural Resources and Climate Change Michael Bizwick Usi was the new Vice-President of the Republic of Malawi, one peculiar thing happened.

Manganya in action, Kale movie of Kamuzu

Suddenly, the social media space was flooded with video clips depicting Usi, in his acting lobe as Manganya aka Bambo a Sikono, in different roles.

One could feel a sense that the clips were being shared from different perspectives. Evidently, for others it was an act of disbelief that the person they have grown to know behind the character of Manganya had risen to be the country’s second most important citizen.

Yet, for some, it was a celebration of a journey which had culminated into the most amazing and astonishing tales. Rising from the drama stage to the presidency. They saw enough inspiration from that tale.

After taking oath of office on Friday afternoon in Parliament in Lilongwe, Usi joined a list of other prominent global leaders who have come from an artistic path all the way to the presidency.

Current Botswana President Mokwetsi Masisi is another proud former actor. He boasts of a well-storied acting curriculum vitae, which saw him feature in a number of film productions both in his native country and in South Africa.

Madagasca President Andry Rajoelina was a prominent DJ as a teenager. He also owned an event production company and later became the owner of one of the biggest radio and television stations in that country, Viva TV and Radio.

Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian President, is a known former comedian and actor. Though he was professionally trained as a lawyer, Zelensky choose to pursue a career in acting. He featured in numerous productions and also owned his own production company.

The United States of America’s 40th President Ronald Reagan needs no introduction in the Hollywood narrative, where he featured in over 50 movies in a career spanning over three decades.

The thinking among some is that Usi is not fit to be vice-president. If you ask them why? The only reason, if it is a reason at all is that he is an actor.

I don’t know how many people have tried acting at any level in their life. I will say this from a personal experience having had a dance on the stage as a boy. Not everyone can execute the lines and roles as assigned on stage.

There is a reason why acting is called an art. And art in itself is a science which requires a functioning brain just as it is applied in many different professional fields. There is a reason why people spend years and years in college studying drama.

If acting or arts in general was a trade of half-wits, then we would not have people languishing with unemployment or lack of things to do. They would all flock to the stage. But that is not the case. Some of us should take a moment and ask ourselves why we are not musicians, actors, comedians or models. It is because you do not have it in you.

The illustration above shows that Usi’s case is not just identical to Malawi, but also a demonstration that one’s preoccupation and career background does not in any way deter them from rising the political ranks to become whatever they can be.

Let us learn to respect the art and trade of other people. Even if we feel our disposition is better than others, it does not hurt to show some respect to what others do rather than look down upon them with contempt and disdain.

Actually, there is no prescribed benchmark that says political leaders should be drawn from some particular professions. There are so many art players with impeccable reasoning capabilities. These individuals are playing an equally important role in building the nation just like other professionals.

Usi’s rise to the presidency is a big win for the creative industry. He has set a bar that other players in the industry should aim to emulate. Now it is time to look at Usi and the Vice-President and not Usi as Manganya. Congratulations belatedly Ambwiye!

*This article first appeared in The Nation newspaper*



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