“Stupidity is also a gift of God, but one mustn’t misuse it!” – Pope John Paul II.
I believe that there are two ways of living a life: Live a good life or wallow in misery. It’s one’s choice. And then, there are two ways of approaching the beginning of a new life, in this case, a good life. We can either ignore it or carry on with our lives in the same old way and get stuck in the rut; or we can embrace change and use it as an opportunity to make those changes – big or small – that we’ve thought about, long and hard, but have not put into action.
Remember, we cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. In this modern life, one size doesn’t fit all as was the case too many rains ago because now, near is our shirt, but nearer is our skin, and thus, we must never sell the skin till we have caught the bear; there’s more than one way to skin a cat.
Maybe we want to put our finances in order. Perhaps we would like to quit a bad habit or keep our temper under control. Whatever our goal, we must avoid doing the same old things that made us fail. We must seal all the ‘superfluous fissures’ for if there are no cracks; the lizard won’t be able to get in.
So, humankind is now not inherently good? You may ask.
We all have aspirations towards goodness, but they’re frustrated by an inability on our part to put them into practice. Many of us recognise the inner tension of wanting to be better but fail to be that person because we’re always stuck in a rut – and this is where Ubunthu comes in and offers a useful framework.
Ubunthu explains tension in terms of humans being equal and that all people are made in God’s image. It teaches us about understanding the limits of wounded and broken human nature and about the need for love for mankind. We must thus stay away from stupidity, but as Aristophanes argues: “Youth ages, immorality is outgrown. Ignorance can be educated, crazy can be medicated. But there is cure for stupidity,”and this is to say that we’re stuck in the rut if we’re stupid.
It’s often said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. It is very, very often said.
The old dictum which has been most commonly attributed to many scholars by folks who tend to imply that nobody of letters said it – this cliché comes up again and again in journalism. Not least because it’s the most favoured phrase of the Clintons or that it’s an equivalent of Malawi’s flamboyant politician, Bakili Muluzi’s taglines: “A Malawi sachedwa kuyiwala msanga” and “Mwapanga bwanji wandu wopenga?” – There aren’t very many new things to say about it, thus, I cannot pussyfoot or mosey into it further.
Without politicians – who all think alike and behave alike, like minibus drivers – and all appears to have come from one sperm and one womb – this saying would be meaningless. Politicians do the same things all the time and fail but always they anticipate a change. As a matter of fact, Zwex is skimmed through, and confusedly so, ought to heed to the words of the elders which only becomes sweeter and wiser the day after. If the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, then Malawian politicians might look potty and they’re a perfect fit. They qualify to be classified as insane. Why we, Malawians, take a new turn and start doing things differently to achieve something new?
I dare say that whoever observed that ‘doing the same thing over and over with a full expectation of the different results is somewhat a genius but half-judicious for the quote is more apocryphal – but whoever it is, I believe that he or she could be proud six feet under, knowing that their apothegm of an anecdote is true to the political landscape of Malawi Drama Group and its actors. This aphorismic and legendary quote is a true reflection of Malawi and her indifferent and unresponsive citizens.
Is it not therefore an act of insanity that we keep retaining the same people who are the architects of our failures in the corridors of power and still we expect things to be better?
In 1972 (some 44 years ago) Goodall Gondwe was working at the Reserve Bank of Malawi and later retired and joined the IMF and the World where he also duly retired and thereafter returned home and became a Finance minister in the Bingu administration more than a decade and half years ago and we still think he is the right guy to steer our economy as a minister into a right direction?
Goodall (Gondwe) is an incredible economist, there’s no doubt about that. He has given his all to the country, but nothing lasts forever. Times have changed, and so have the economic trends. He’s no longer relevant. Malawi graduates a bunch of brilliant economists every year who are so eager, enthusiastic, energetic and forward-thinking and very-much-in-tune with the modern economic trends. Why can’t we try these new brains) for fuck’s sake?
Why are we so obsessed with retired old baggers? Look around and you’ll see the very same old cantankerous wrinkled faces that were in Muluzi’s UDF inner-circle, Bingu’s DPP and Joyce Banda’s PP’s pro tem administration. These are the same fellas who have contributed directly to all the ills and failures of our country and it’s the same lot that are now ‘rocking’ it with Peter Mutharika and we expect things to be better? We, Malawians, surely need deliverance not from men of Gold but directly from the almighty God: Timudziwe Yesu mwachangu!
The essence of futility, they say, is to keep doing the same wrong things while expecting a different result. This is exactly what we have been doing for since 1993 and we wonder why we’re a country that is fast nose-diving into the abyss of abject poverty?
If indeed the definition of insanity is indeed doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, then these polarised political old-hands are the ‘admissible evidence’ beyond reasonable doubt for our failure, then overhauling the system to flash the old petulant and self-aggrandising political old hands is the only way out.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” I’ve heard this cliché all my adult life: But now as I grow wiser, I don’t subscribe to it in its entirety.
In my view, insanity is a legal term pertaining to a defendant’s ability to determine right from wrong when a crime is committed and here is lengthy definition in legal terms: “Insanity is (n) is a mental illness of such a severe nature that a person cannot distinguish fantasy from reality, cannot conduct her/his affairs due to psychosis, or is subject to uncontrollable impulsive behaviour.”
Insanity is a concept discussed in court of law not of public opinion, to help distinguish guilt from innocence. However, I would like to put a tweak to the saying because I think this fits well with the happenstances of my country: “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting the different result is not insanity but utter stupidity.”
There’s also the psychodynamic construct called repetition compulsion where people unconsciously repeat past conflicts and mistakes. I can say it without fear or contradiction that all the four post-colonial Malawian presidents namely Bakili Muluzi, Bingu Mutharika, Joyce Banda and Peter Mutharika are guilty of the above political malaise.
Again, Lazarus Chakwera and the once mighty MCP are failing to get back into power for that same reason – they keep doing the same thing over and over since they lost power in 1993. MCP has no ambition to rule the country again; I think they’re satisfied beyond measure to be Malawi’s life main opposition party. If that’s not stupidity, then what is?
UDF could still be in power today if Muluzi had ‘democratically’ handed over the leadership mantle to his vice Justin Malewezi. He overlooked the party’s political hierarchy and for his own selfish good and greediness, he nonchalantly opted for a total stranger in Bingu Mutharika to take over so he could still be in control – but forgot his own philosophy that; ‘wapakaliyala saimba belu.’ That was the beginning of an end for UDF.
When Bingu rose to power, he didn’t learn a thing from his predecessor’s fate. He quickly grew wings and started squeezing his vice Cassim Chilumpha, falsely accusing him of plotting to assassinate him. Then, Bingu jumped on gender race-card and handpicked Joyce Banda (JB), whose candidature as a woman brought excitement to the country and he won with a landslide. But stupid as stupid can be, Bingu had other ideas. He waged war against Joyce Banda and vehemently accused her of forming parallel structures. That was the genesis of a fire on the mountain.
Bingu loved Malawi so much, that he gave the people of Malawi his only begotten brother, Peter, so that whoever follow and believes in him, must’ve an everlasting political life long after he was gone to his maker. But as fate would have it, Bingu kicked the bucket before the plan was hatched into reality, and as the constitution demanded Joyce Banda ascended to power.
JB chose Khumbo Kachali to deputise her, perhaps to enable her win over the north and rake in more votes during the 2014 elections. But just months into office, JB was drunk with power and quickly forgot all mishaps that happened to Muluzi and Bingu before her. She soon started to sideline Khumbo Kachali, ignored him and picked an outsider, MCP political aficionado Sosten ‘Ben 10’ Gwengwe. Why Joyce Banda opted for Gwengwe only her knows better.
We can’t just stop doing the same wrong things over and over and strange as it seems, no amount of learning can cure our stupidity; and avariciousness, greediness and executive arrogance has deleteriously fortifies it, and as Napoleon Bonaparte once said: “In politics, stupidity is not a handicap.”
Then, came Abraz, Peter Mutharika, the internationally acclaimed law Professor, who at the outset showed signs of being a divergent and dynamic leader. He shocked the country when he took a political gamble and picked an astute business captain from the corporate world, Saulos Klaus Chilima to partner him in the elections. It was a bold but risky move to make, considering the circumstances at the time and this angered the long-serving DPP politburo and political vultures, but it worked.
As a distinguished lawyer and man of letters, Professor Peter Mutharika, I’m sure, he’s aware of the pattern and political precedents. I hope that he will not replicate the very same mistakes that Muluzi did with Malewezi, Bingu with Chilumpha and Joyce Banda did with Khumbo Kachale.
If JB was smart enough she would be still the president. She botched it because she listened to political vultures who fed her lies. The vultures had achieved what they wanted and when she lost, they abandoned her. Like her two predecessors, she was sold a dummy.
I hope not against hope that APM is smarter not to listen to the political scoundrels that are selling him dummies to confuse him so he can ditch the people who autonomously helped him to occupy the presidency. He should know better if his brother wasn’t a president, he wouldn’t be one today and that those DPP political old-hands s don’t want you there. They want themselves to be there. APM needs to see beyond his nose. He must choose people on merit rather than on political appeasement. Opting for the George Chaponda’s, the Atupele Muluzi’s,’ the Henry Musa’s, the Patricia Kaliati’s of this world and et al will be digging his own political grave.
By the way, what does Chaponda, the leader of house, mean by sleeping in parliament when his boss, the president, was delivering a State of the Nation? What could be more important to him as a senior cabinet minister and the leader of the house than listening to the president talking?
On the flipside, Please, Mr President, make sure your speeches are issue-based and interesting enough not only to capture the ear’s attention but to conquer hearts with a voice of reason. Work on your delivery and make sure that you’re as charismatic as poison seller. Stop being ‘boring’ or lest we’ll all be sleeping the next time you’ll be address the nation.
In Malawian politics, if you make a bed, be ready to sleep in it, in this case, if you handpick a running-mate for a vice president, run with them to the finishing line or else, stupid as stupid does, fall apart with them and fall from grace. It is what it is.
I’m sure the incumbent, is as smart as smart can be, and knows that repeating the same thing over and over and expecting different results is not only insanity but utter stupidity. Act wise and fast. This game called politics is not the strongest, who survives, nor it is the educated, rather it is the smartest and the filthiest that finish the race to winning line.
Until next week, so long!
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