Talking Blues: Of Pandora’s box, Sisyphus, the crab, the crane and double-crossing

“Then I witnessed the torture of Sisyphus, as he wrestled with a huge rock with both hands. Bracing himself and thrusting with hands and feet, he pushed the boulder uphill to the top.  But just when he was about to topple it over the crest, its sheer weight turned it back, and he had to start all over.” Odyssey, Book 11:593

An old crane (bird) lived near a small pond full of fish. The fish served as its breakfast, lunch, and dinner. As the crane aged, catching the fish was getting taxing.

Chilima( L) and Chakwera: They propelled Tonse alliance together to power

Drought occurred. Water level receded, but the fish remained elusive. He would catch a few, but not enough.

How could he catch more, the crane wondered?

It devised a plan and sat by the pond. Motionless. Like a Buddhist monk.  After a while, an inquisitive fish swimming by asked,

“What’s the matter?”

The crane replied, “I am devastated. You guys are in mortal danger.”

“How?” the fish asked.

The crane responded, “Look, water in your pond is ebbing. Food is running out. You will all starve.”

Concerned, the fish asked, “What can we do then?”

The crane replied, “If you can trust me, I can pick you up in my beak one at a time and transfer you to a much bigger pond. With lots of water and food.”

The fish became suspicious; but the crane coaxed, “Test me. Send one fish with me, I will show him the new pond and bring him back. Then you decide.”

The fish debated and resolved that one fish should go verify. Seeing that the crane didn’t eat that fish, they agreed to relocate.

The crane picked the first and flew to a tree. Before the fish realized what was happening, the crane killed him, ate his flesh and dropped the bones to the ground. The crane repeated this until no fish was left.

His hunger nevertheless persisted.

Then he saw a crab and tried to re-use the same ruse as with the fish, but the crab did not bite. The prospect of a big pond was however overwhelming and after much thought, the crab said,

“I am too heavy for your beak. You could inadvertently drop me. Let me grab your neck with my eight legs.”

The crane agreed, and they flew to a big tree next to a pond. The crab wondered,

“Why are you not taking me to the pond?”

“See those fish bones under the tree?” asked the crane, “I have eaten them all.”

The crab merely laughed and reminded the crane that its throat was locked in his claws. The crane realized the danger and begged the crab to leave his neck and promised not to eat him.

The crab agreed, and the crane flew down to the pond and pleaded, “Now, please release me.”

The crab now knew that the crane could not be trusted; it sliced the crane’s neck with his sharp claws, the crane’s head fell on the ground, and the crab crawled into the new big, beautiful pond.

From cranes and crabs, let us recall Greek mythology.

Pandora of the Pandora’s Box fame was the first mortal woman in Greek mythology, i.e., Pandora is the Biblical Eve’s equivalent.

Prometheus, a mortal, had stolen fire from Olympus. This made Zeus angry and to punish men, irate Zeus decided to give humans something which would balance this new acquisition, “an evil thing for men as the price of fire.”

He commanded Hephaestus to create a creature endowed with numerous beguiling and seducing gifts which would plague mortal men from then on.  Hephaestus produced a sweet, lovely, maiden-shape, as beautiful and as enticing as the immortal goddesses.

All the gods and goddesses including Athena, Aphrodite, Graces and Peitho (Persuasion), chipped in and finally, Hermes put in it the voice of humankind and at Zeus’ command, contrived within this voice many lies and crafty words.

It was so beautiful that even the deathless gods were in love with it! They called it Pandora, meaning the “All-Endowed” because all the gods had contributed to its creation.

Since the “sheer guile” of Pandora wasn’t punitive enough, the gods also bequeathed her with numerous other gifts – suffering, doom, blame, strife, retribution, chaos, destruction, hope, disease and death –  packed neatly in a beautiful jar.

Jar in hand, Pandora was sent to earth, given in marriage to Epimetheus, Prometheus’ brother.

One day, Pandora lifted the jar’s lid out of curiosity, thus inadvertently released all evils and diseases into the world. She quickly tried to put the top back but only managed to retain Hope inside it.

From Pandora’s mishaps, let us crossover to Sisyphus, referred to in the intro.

Sisyphus, for his deceit, was condemned by Zeus to eternally roll a boulder up a hill in Hades. He represents a distressing symbol of the folly of those who seek to trifle with the natural order of things and avoid the inevitable.

The adjective Sisyphean, used later in this discourse, denotes an objective which can be pursued but never attained.

Before I make my point, allow me to add one more story.

After suffering a lot, a couple decided life was not worth living and resolved to kill themselves. They agreed that from a cliff’s crest, standing side by side, they would count to 3 then jump to their deaths.

They reached the cliff, said their adieus, then 1-2-3 and the man jumped.

The lady did not.

She just stood there watching. She watched him free-fall towards the rough stony ground and then suddenly “poof”, a parachute opened. Buoyed by the parachute, the man did not crush to death.

Finding no broken body on the ground, he looked up and saw that his wife had not jumped.

What do you think? Who fooled who?

Malawi has answers to these questions. The couple represents MCP and UTM which through a historical pact created the Tonse Alliance which facilitated their victory in the June 2020 FPE.

This alliance is now in supposition.

As we speak, MCP and UTM are on the edge of a cliff, and as far as UTM is concerned, MCP has already jumped and like the man in the tale above, it has a parachute. The parachute is the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) with which MCP wants to partner, going forward.

How did this happen?

Before going deeper, let us ponder the Pandora’s box-like MCP-UTM pact.

What is in that box? Because no one will tell us, we can freely speculate.

It is a fact that the State Vice President will be ineligible to run as Vice President again in 2025.  Further, from his age, we can assume he will not retire in 2025.

This leaves the presidency as his only option.

Secondly, both Lazarus Chakwera and Saulos Chilima knew this when signing their secret pact.

Therefore, their deal was probably premised on Chakwera serving for one term only.

Thirdly, they both knew that the arrangement would not please everyone. Indeed, scores quit UTM after the pact. MCP however, suffered no exodus.

You know why?

Because some in MCP had a Plan “B”. Since even the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry, the Plan “B” is now a nonstarter.

Unfortunately, right from the inauguration, the MCP Plan “B” faction made it clear to Chilima that he should forget about 2025.

This faction is now in a quandary because due to its behaviour, mending fences with Chilima will be a “Sisyphean” task.

Even if fences were mended, the MCP factionists have a zero guarantee that Chilima would forgive and forget.

To complicate everything, since 50%+1 is here to stay, the factionists know MCP cannot win alone and caught between a rock and a hard place, they have resorted to Otto von Bismarck’s declaration that politics is the art of the possible and in their estimation, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is MCP’s potential bedfellow.

What can we make of this?

Any ill-advised course of action can, like Sisyphus, banish MCP to the opposition for good.

Coming to the crab and the crane story; unlike the fish hoodwinked and eaten by the crane, Chilima seems to be a crab. He is steps ahead.

Should MCP fail to keep Chakwera’s commitment to the Chakwera-Chilima Agreement, MCP will never be trusted again by prospective electoral partners or voters.

Since 50%+1 here to stay, this could mean MCP not governing ever again.

Still on the crab and the crane allegory, MCP can not predict DPP’s thinking, and when one thinks of it, Chilima is a much better option.

All these, however, are the least of MCP’s worries.

Should MCP indeed jilt UTM, MCP – like Lady Pandora – risks opening the forbidden box and unwittingly unleashing deceit, suffering, doom, blame-game, strife, retribution, chaos and destruction in its rank and file because there is no sane MCP hardcore supporter who has forgotten what life, under the DPP, was like.

How quickly people forget! Is it worth it?

Atambwali sametanatu!

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1 year ago

As Hope was the only item left in Pandora’s box, I was looking forward to seeing with whom you identified this quality, but it seems that you think there is no Hope for us, alas.

1 year ago

mwangodana ndi MCP chabe inu anyasatimes….zonsezo mwalembazo mwakanika kuwunikila kufooka kwa UTM and Chilima, simukukamba mphamvu za UTM ndi Chilima kut zagona patipo practically koma mukungobweletsa ma hypothetical cases a MCP kut iluza without UTM, nanga osanena za UTM without MCP bwa? kapena mukuziwa kale kut ndimoto wamapesi nde simungataye nthawi kuwukamba??

The Good son
1 year ago

Well written article but poor timing it’s 4 years in between then and now let’s talk about Zillion problems Malawi is seating on like how can we repay 4 Trillion debt and became financially independent otherwise we will have 1 years to Politick in 2024-2025.
I’m UTM supporter and I will vote and support whichever direction the party will take but man 2025 is along time let’s go to work campaign period will come and we will go at it like it’s our first time ever .

Keen Observer
Keen Observer
1 year ago
Reply to  The Good son

Good & postive thinking Bro.

Keen Observer
Keen Observer
1 year ago

Very good & wise analysis. True story its gonna be interesting come 2025

1 year ago

One MCP faction is even weaken with Mia’s passing thereby making Chilima’s steps ahead as a crab.

Keen Observer
Keen Observer
1 year ago
Reply to  Nasibeko

And I think that faction was the one which could have been a stumbling block for Chilima

Cut Beef
1 year ago

If you think the voter is stupid, you are very right. Education does not help. If we survive coronavirus, you will see the irrational choices the voter will make.

Mike Stuart
Mike Stuart
1 year ago

I said it right from inception of the sour alliance that it was created not in good faith. One could tell that the marriage came about for conveniences’ sake, which meant it would be short-lived and trust among the players was a far fetched dream. To make things worse for them, their governing policies are in disarray because all are amateurish. Bigger portion of the blame has to go to the biased judiciary system the country has. At the end of it all the losers are Malawians who apparently will have gone through a 5 year period of zero production.… Read more »

1 year ago

Many people saw this but at the time, their goal was to unseat DPP and see what happens next.

Looking at the way things are going, DPP should not accept any partnership with any of these crabs. Their lies are all over the wall and any sane Malawian can not waste his or her vote on them.

DPP should just sort it’s house inorder and ready to govern in 2025. These pathological liars will crack soon. The foundation is shaky!

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