“Sometimes we let life guide us, and other times we take life by the horns. But one thing is for sure: no matter how organised we are, or how well we plan, we can always expect the unexpected.” – Brandon Jenner
Some say life is a game, others say it is a gamble and a lot more others say life is a journey. I agree with all that. Life is everything. However, I do believe that while life has so many faces, the life’s head rests on the unexpected neck and shoulders.
Simply put, life is made of surprises. Life is itself a surprise and the beauty of life life in its predictable unpredictability.
Life is not what we all want it to be. it operates on its terms. Life has no routined routines. It is unexpected. Life is generally made up of the most unexpected twists and turns.
However, in life, resilience is all about being able to overcome the unexpected and never expect the expected as sustainability is nothing but about survival because the ultimate goal of of resilience is to thrive. But to thrive, we must act above and beyond our expected ability in order to cope with the unexpected.
One wise man west, Paulo Coelho once aptly remarked: “You have to take risks. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen.”
Truthfully speaking, life is strange. Life just doesn’t care about our aspirations, or sadness. It operate in its own terms and at own pace and times. It is often random, and it’s often stupid and it’s often completely unexpected, and the closures and the epiphanies and revelations we end up receiving from life, begrudgingly, rarely turn out to be the ones we thought. Sometimes it is sweet but some other time is sucks and sulk. It is beautiful at times, but ugly, too.
That is life.
The BBC Hard Talk show with Dr Laz had so many twists and turns. But the one that almost startled every body watching was our president’s unexpected answer and denial about the alleged appointment of second born his daughter, Violet to go serve as envoy in Europe.
Yes! It was not the first time for the State House to be questioned about it.
Our local journalists had been asking about this ever since the revelations were made known. And, to make it even hard for themselves, the State House through the President’s mouthpiece, Press Secretary, Brian Banda had already submitted an on-the-record response during their weekly press briefing. Maybe, just maybe, that could be the reason he is being sent to China so he doesn’t hang the President to the media ever again.
Nevertheless, given the many walk backs and the fluid nature of this administration, this did not come as a surprise.
The only strange thing about this was why the President out of all places, would choose to break his decision on such a stage.
This then leaves us with more questions than answers.
Did our beloved President equivocate and lie about his daughter’s appointment to Brussels? Let’s get at it!
Let me begin by making it clear that I am not in anyway suggesting that our president is a liar.
However, I am of the view that there is a thin line between telling lies and sharing false information. Some people do not life, they just don’t tell the truth.
The only thing that separates and defines the two from each other is the intent.
Those who do this with a sinister motive of getting others to believe misleading information and does it habitually are what we would call liars.
However we all know sometimes life situations have a way of getting us into those tight corners where the only way out would be bending something or twisting facts so we are left alone.
In mafia mob circles this is called rocking the boat or “breaking the eggs.”
The gist of it all is that: “If you don’t break eggs, you would not have an omelette,” meaning that if you don’t do something to get out of certain situations, you could end up getting stuck in a rut like a rat, there.
So, maybe this was one of those situations when the president was caught off guard and had to do something spontaneous to survive in the heat of things.
Was this a forced lie? Was the president left with no other option apart from just cooking up something that was not making sense?
I will leave it up for you to have your own judgment and make your own conclusion.
But what I can state unequivocally is that the pretext didn’t hold enough. The sense was less.
What the president stated sounded like an honest and a rare call for patriotism as he called on all Malawians to be altruistic and of a courtesy to the nation by desisting from peddling negative information that could end up misleading and damaging our standing as a nation.
He went further to encourage citizens to be exercising their right investigate questionable issues but cautioned them to know the facts fully before taking it to social media and other platforms.
Now, Simply just taking that statement and those sentiments alone at face value, I should agree most of us could see nothing wrong.
We saw a facet of sense and morality connoting some positivity and virtues of honesty and integrity.
But…and a big but, was the president really truthful and straightforward about it? Did he really stand in front of Malawians and expected to convince us all that he had no idea about the whole appointment?
Wasn’t he aware that his own biological daughter was attending training for diplomats?
As very subjective as it is, We can only let ourselves make our own conclusions.
But as for me, I find it not as compelling and convincing at all.
And this is the reason why, his own press officer Mr Brian Banda had earlier on acknowledged that the appointment was indeed done on merit because the daughter was qualified and said emphatically that the state house didn’t see any justification in punishing someone simply just because she was a close relative of the president.
In fact he further went on and made this rebuttable presumption challenging members of the press why they were only questioning just one appointment out of the over two thousand appointments the president had made.
In common law jurisdictions, that could have been regarded as “prima facie,” a denotation of sufficient proof for a certain argument or fact.
In apologetics, this was going to be regarded as a logical point of reference with a coherent and a correspondent.
Simply put, just few weeks ago their absolute stand was that there was nothing wrong with the appointment and the statehouse media team sounded very confident in their defense before the local press.
However, at that time, they didn’t see the BBC Hard Talk coming.
It’s one thing to stand your ground in a familiar territory, but totally a different ballgame altogether, when the whole world is watching and you happen to be the president of a nation that had been recently decorated as the most improved.
Whether spontaneous or not, in that interview the president was forced to walk back from his hard stand.
I think it was prudent enough for him to rescind that decision publicly and that worked to his advantage in disarming the interviewer.
The press secretary’s favourite line “it’s the president’s prerogative to appoint” couldn’t cut this time.
Now it should be made clear that when Mr. Brian Banda was responding to local press earlier, he was not speaking on behalf of the foreign affairs ministry as the president suggested that this probably the appointment of his daughter was done at a ministerial level without his knowledge.
What the president was trying to do rather was creating a diversion by fostering a “false dichotomy” between his office and the line ministry.
The president is the head of the executive and has direct reporting lines.
To delink himself from what’s happening at ministry level is to give Malawians a dose of dishonest.
The agenda and priorities of every lead ministry are set to reflect what the administration needs to accomplish.
I also fault the president for his lack of sensitivity when it came to including his family on a government trip.
He acted like a complete novice. This is politics and perception is all that matters.
The fact that he could have the audacity to include someone who was at the center of a major controversy just barely few weeks prior showed how insensitive he is.
By this act alone he demonstrated no regard for the nation’s feelings and emotions. He cared less to show little concern for what his own people were raising.
Coming at the pick of the allegations of nepotism that had already rocked his government with revelations of heinous wrong doings levelled against him for appointing his biological daughter as an envoy to Brussels, the only thing expected from our leader was just to show some respect and concern about people’s views.
Nevertheless, I personally find this troubling on so many fronts.
Ethically it diminishes the trust that is supposed to be in existence between leaders and their subordinates.
Change is about setting a culture. When leaders don’t tell the truth, they cannot instil and inspire a culture of honesty.
This weakens trust, and when that happens it is difficult for others to tag along with confidence and follow as there is no clear precedent.
Let’s not forget that it’s always the case within people to harbour a natural propensity for not believing and taking things seriously when there is not enough guiding actions that could be considered in subsequent similar circumstances.
There has to be substantial precedents for setting up a culture.
Secondly, this is a moral issue. Lying is one of the ultimate signs of betrayal. It is a form of witchcraft that seeks to turn others into becoming or believing something that is not real.
Patriotism should not be forced and ushered on lies. It has to be fundamentally delivered on the the love of country and pride in the values and ideals it represents.
Citizens will always stand for the country if they are made aware of what the country stands for and when their leaders are able to walk the talk.
A true patriotic Malawi will emerge only when it’s citizens feel independent enough and liberated from corruption, nepotism and cronyism.
When leaders chooses carelessly to fabricate schemes that will end up misleading and deluding their own people into errantly believing lies or inaccuracies, they implicitly become perpetrators of fraud with an unlawful gain while at the same time denying Malawians their lawful right to access to information.
Any concealment of information gives room for miss information. When citizens are left to figure things out by themselves, conspiracies will always find a breeding ground. It is just that simple.
Therefore our president must always maintain a great deal of probity by remaining sincere. The communications team at State House should establish strong relationships with local media houses as partners in information dissemination. There is no need to acting pompous or rude.
For example the other issue that the president had to deal with was that of the purported virtual meeting. This should have been put in context at the very beginning and the lie-peddlers and trolls wouldn’t have a chance to push their nonsense afloat.
Again on this one his press officers failed to anticipate quickly and reverse the backlash that eventually could emanate from such abstract but perceptible notions.
When members of the press had asked about it, right there and then, it was a signal enough for misinformation.
The government propaganda machine was supposed to be armed with information including the in person itinerary of the president’s meetings with partners and other heads of state – There was a need for a consolidated form of persuasion that was supposed to flood the media disputing any negative allegations while at the same time further evoking an emotional and obligable response from the people.
Sadly there was none. No effort was put in place to reverse the purported narrative. They failed the president in that regard. And all they are doing now is to make the President look like a puppet and a man who is not in control.
They failed to pre-empt it before it caught some life in the social media space and by the time they tried to act, it was too late to do anything about it. Well, as am closing, I would like to assure you Mr president that we will rally behind that call you made.
Indeed it’s a collective responsibility that demands more than just an emotion. It is a collective decision that all of us have to invest in nurturing our beloved nation. But the bulk stops with those that are in front of us.
This should start with creating a Malawi that allows all citizens to be active participants.
What will make a nation successful is not just the way we vote and defend our country against our common foes.
Our ability to hold meaningful conversations with each other and how we hold our leaders to account for their actions is what will build our national identity and make our democracy enviable.
As I sign out, let me leave you with the words of wisdom said eons past by one brilliant mind, Carre Otis: “But life inevitably throws us curve balls, unexpected circumstances that remind us to expect the unexpected. I’ve come to understand these curve balls are the beautiful unfolding of both karma and current.”
They say “Tsokonombwe adatha mtunda nkudumpha.” it will be slow but together we can, and, we will.
Ku kenani tikafika koma mochedwelapo.
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