By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.
For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, sing us one of the songs of Zion.
How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? Psalm 137:1-4
Lucius Banda MP has expressed disappointment with the Malawian penchant for listening and dancing until dawn, all the while singing along until their voices get hoarse, to his hard-hitting songs; only to fall short of moving even a finger to change their fortunes by demanding more and better from their millionaire leaders.
I truly feel for Lucius, the Son of a Poor Man. The psychological torture he is going through, is something I relate to. I too often get the same question from people asking why am not writing or blogging as prolifically as I used to.
Thom Chiumia, the inimitable Nyasa Times editor, is one person I cannot chat with without this question arising.
Lucius’s response: “What are the people doing with what I have sung before? Have we not inspired them enough to stand up and act?” more or less nails it.
“In the past, the youth would act without looking at one’s party affiliation. And that’s why we had multi-party. But today, people are loyal to their parties even if they know that their leaders are wrong. It’s difficult to speak for such people,” Lucius said.
To put it differently, Lucius Banda is responding to the request (for a song) with a question, asking: “How shall I sing a song of freedom, when we are not free?”
Lucius, as a politician, a musician and to be fair in any whatever capacity, fits the bill as a voice of reason. As stated in the Malawi Nation, he has earned and lived up to that reputation right from his debut album “Son of a Poor Man”.
It therefore makes sense that he is now a disillusioned Soldier because his songs have been in vain.
“I am a disappointed soldier. I am talking alone without the support from the people I defend,” he is quoted to have said.
Now before Lucius takes it too hard on himself, I have news for him. As someone who reads the Bible, he must be familiar with Luke 7:32 or Mark 11:16-18.
When our Lord was perplexed with the generation of His time, He lamented:
But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’…
With respect to firing up Malawians to start demanding better governance, Lucius has done it all. For his trouble, he has slept in gullies, been to prison and back, and he has sung and sung and sung his lungs out.
But other than dancing and singing along, or rather, soon after dancing and singing along, Malawians – especially the younger generation – have quickly reverted to their default mode, that of serving, par excellence, as political party call boys who can’t separate ‘fact’ from fiction, ‘entitlement’ from theft, and prudence from corruption; when the party they support is involved.
We saw this when the United Democratic Front (UDF) was in power, the same was the case in Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Scene 1 Acts 1 and 2.
Things did not change much when Pres Joyce Banda took over in the two year-long “commercial break”, and the crap continues to date, unabated.
Malawians, make no mistake about it, know that freedom is not granted by the oppressor. They have had to fight for it twice.
Malawians therefore ought to know that good governance will never be delivered on a silver platter by their rulers whose primary priority is self-enrichment, by hook or crook, while promising the rest a better tomorrow – which never comes.
Look at this; the Cabinet has just sold Malawians a dummy by first, dillydallying on the empowering Access to Information (ATI) Bill before throwing it back to the technocrats.
This shameless and nauseating act of Executive sabotage effectively continues the information blackout which only benefits the corrupt leaders.
While the DPP might argue that we have become used to ESCOM-sponsored-electricity-blackouts, it has no right to extend the information blackout we have suffered for far too long. One blackout at a time is enough!
For those failing to connect this critical bill to development, let me spell it out as simply as I can.
Among the key differences between Malawi (plus her fellow poor countries) and most of the developed countries is the fact that in the developed countries, politicians do not steal as easily as they do in the poor countries for fear of exposure by the media and public sanctions.
The media, in the developed countries, has teeth because accessing the information they need to expose thieves is an enacted legal right.
In Malawi on the other hand, to get information on how our own money, which we contribute through taxes has been used, is next to impossible.
The minister of propaganda will “disclose” the “extravagance associated with the opposition while sitting on a mountain of stinking shit, which if the media accessed, could bring down the government.
The lack of a public outcry to the diluting and postponing of the draft ATI Bill is therefore an example of how little Malawians care about the things that really matter. This behaviour is like a blind man who cares less where his walking stick is.
Observing Malawi social media, one school of Malawians wrongly thinks the bill was for the benefit of media practitioners. The other school is saying, since it is my DiPhiPhi playing this game, this is fine.
My assessment of both schools of thought? Irredeemable bunches of idiots.
The truth is: this overdue bill is what Malawi has been missing since we adopted plural politics. Because plural politics means nothing if citizens are only fed propaganda by the respective ministry, via state funded institutions and compliant cheque-book journalists, instead of the whole truth.
We need the independent media to be able to dig deep into State fiscal affairs, if we are to avoid a recurrence of cash gate.
And in this regard, it is of no consequence how many hard-hitting songs Lucius composes. It is of no consequence how frequently these hard-hitting songs composed by Lucius enjoy air time. Because what is needed is for Malawians, the truly patriotic ones that is, to grab the bull by the horn and demand better, or leave heartbroken Lucius Banda in peace.
But whatever the case, please stop requesting Lucius to sing about your lamentations and tribulations!