“Right now I’m having amnesia and déjà vu at the same time. I think I’ve forgotten this before.” Steven Wright
Rather than be intimidated by the Vice-President’s newly acquired bullying skills, and on a silver platter grant him and his lot my inalienable right to opine just because in his warped view I have ‘little knowledge about legal, economic and social issues’, I hereby voluntarily elect to join the ever-growing chorus of “idiots” of various tribes, sex, and belief, coming from all walks of life; to opine on several things that I have the right to care about.
If you are reading this and are determined to stay with me to the end, then I take it that you too are a ranking “idiot” of the Loyal Order of the VP.
If this is so, my Brethren and/or Sistren, accept my greetings!
In keeping with our culture, after my long period of hibernation, I ought to first enquire about your health. How are you? How is the mlamu? How are the kids? Etc.
I ought to ask whether or not everything is well with you. This is how you and I were brought up.
But thanks to idiotic mediocrity, this is no longer necessary. Because if nothing is well with Malawi, and you and I happen to be bona fide Malawians, it follows that nothing should be well with us.
Unless of course, you are one of these idiots who prefer to bury heads in sand, refusing to acknowledge the evident existence of a host of problems under a misguided delusion that if one pretends long enough that challenges do not exist, the challenges will wilt on their own accord.
Nothing and no-one could be more wrong.
I know that as a citizen with unfulfilled promises and unrealised dreams, you are hurting. You see your neighbours increasingly struggling to maintain human dignity and miserably failing. You wonder: where did we all go wrong?
Like the friends of the biblical Job you are curious: who is meting out this punishment on us? What crimes or sins have we committed to be so damned? In short, you are facing severe temptations to adopt Job 13: 13 as your constitution.
Kindly allow me to plead with you: let us, for a while, leave emotions aside, reason together and try to use our collective faculties to ponder about three things which although taken for granted by idiots, have grave implications for us and for generations to come.
Mind you, I am not talking about some classy aspirations high up on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. I am referring to basics: the right to food, the right to health, and the right to decent education.
To kick-start this discussion, let me mention that in well governed countries, kids only learn about the lack of these basics during history or geography lessons. They learn that these basics are usually hard to come by in countries ravaged by war or some other calamities, not in countries that have enjoyed 51 years of consecutive and uninterrupted peace.
In present day Malawi, just four years shy of Vision 2020, living the nightmare of doing without these basics is the status quo. This, in 2016 AD, is the current state of affairs in the motherland.
And someone, somewhere in Malawi, claims to be in control. In control of what?
Putting first things first, no one in their right mind will question Virginia Woolf’s observation that ‘one cannot think well, love well, and sleep well, if one has not dined well’.
In other words, on an empty stomach, there is very little you and I can do. Even kulota nkukhuta, as Kennedy Ndoya aka Madolo once crooned to us.
Now, let us be honest, bodza nloyipa. You and I are not necessarily sleeping on empty stomachs. But your folks, and my folks too in the villages, are. Lucky ones can access madeya. The not so lucky, are maintaining vigils in the hope of chancing upon madeya four years to Vision 2020.
Yet the president is now haranguing them with statistics of maize trucks and tonnage, as if he was a Weighbridge Assistant!
That Malawians in fact eat maize, not statistics, is alien to President Mutharika. Instead of feeding people statistics, what he ought to do is to simply ensure that the maize is readily available and that ordinary Malawians, villagers and all, do not have to sleep at ADMARC markets to get it.
Is this asking for too much?
But since it is written that man shall not live by bread alone, let us move on. You have all heard of the Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi is on record remarking that: ‘It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.’
Now, let us for one moment, think about the masses who depend on public hospitals. They happen to be the majority. And they are just as Malawian like you and me are. They are human beings that need to be valued.
They go to the public hospitals where getting aspirin is a cause for celebration. And yet, and yet, the State President continues going about claiming that his idiots have assured him that drugs and medicines are in abundance in district hospitals.
Echoing the Mahatma, Arlen Specter argues that ‘there ought to be nothing more important than our collective good health because good health is our principal capital asset.’
This fundamental truth, going by the state of Malawi public hospitals, and the presidential state of living in denial, is lost on Peter Mutharika.
Fine, let’s accept to live on empty stomachs and look to Providence to surviving even with ill-equipped Hospitals. Let us talk about the luxury called Education.
No-one knows the Democratic Progress Party’s thinking better than Maynard James Keenan. Paraphrasing Keenan aptly sums up the pathetic Malawi situation:
If the education of our kids comes from MBC radio and television, state sponsored newspapers and development rallies – if that’s where they get most of their knowledge from, and not from schools, then the powers that be are definitely in charge, because they own all those outlets.
In other words, grooming uneducated idiots is all that the Mutharikas need to do to rule Malawi forever. Why else and how else would anyone who has gone past Junior Certificate education celebrate the slaughtering of an already inadequate education budget, unless they have a hidden, longterm, selfish agenda?
The DPP does know that the foundation of every state is the education of its youth. They are aware that schools and school libraries are the delivery rooms for the birth of ideas and, places where history comes to life.
And knowing this is why, they can happily trim the education budget in favour of State House banquet halls and/or marquees.
While it is a fact that too little learning is a dangerous thing, even this little learning is better than total ignorance.
The selfish thinking is: if Malawian youths, especially in the populous and under-educated southern region of Malawi, open up their minds and eyes, how will Mutharika and his goons use them election after election, only to dump them after elections like used condoms, till kingdom come?
Amangwetu, to say that we are knee-deep in bull is an understatement. The shit is now uncomfortably close to our very mouths. Keeping one’s mouth open carries the risk of swallowing stuff I cannot put in print.
Visualise this if you can:
While our motherland does not have unlimited resources, somehow very few people are able to live in disgusting opulence when not too long ago, they were common beggars.
While our motherland is not imbued with massive wealth, it boggles the mind that rather than construct more schools, we think banqueting halls and marques are the investments we need to develop.
When our hospitals have been fully certified as death rows, the number of people we send on international excursions, ostensibly to learn things that we will not replicate, remains ridiculously and obscenely high.
These paradoxes, Ladies and Gentlemen, easily qualify Malawi as the ninth wonder of the world!
This shameless poverty in priorities, though regrettable, could be tolerable. But not when there is a sadistic element afoot. People are starving. Learners are being denied education. Hospitals are ill-equipped.
And all we can think of is the venue of the next state banquet! Where did umunthu go? What happened to sanity?
Banqueting halls and marques worth more than human lives and dignity? What, for crying out loud, is there to celebrate in Malawi? The majority’s mass starvation, or the fact that the majority cannot access quality health care? Or the fact that that masses continued state of ignorance means that we will govern for ever?
A stitch in time, it is said, saves nine. As a people, we obviously goofed in our choices after Providence removed these insensitive characters from power in 2012.
Therefore, we should get used to this unabashed level of greed. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and what we are witnessing now is proof beyond doubt that President Peter Mutharika, much like that Mose that went bad, cannot be trusted to care for anyone and anything beyond his nose. Full stop.
This explains the ‘we-care-less-attitude’ to the Academic saga, the arrogance that led to the British Envoy’s mishap and in the recent rewarding of the MHC former General Manager, the character that sold for a song a public house to Peter Mutharika with a diplomatic appointment instead of giving space to the Anti-Corruption Bureau to prosecute him.
This explains why the Electoral Commissioners have lived and survived to loot and rig another day, despite a damning Central Internal Audit Unit report.
There is no reason to cry over spilt milk because a nation that refuses to learn from history is doomed to repeat the same mistakes.
We are merely reaping what we sowed.
What we ought to have known is that: just as you can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear, just as you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs and just as you can’t make bricks without straw; you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
A leopard cannot change its spots.
If experience is the prophecy of wise men, then as a nation, we ought to have had enough collective experience to make better choices and more importantly, to safeguard those choices.
Let me put this in Biblical perspective: think of the time when Israelites were fleeing Pharaoh’s chariots and Moses parted the Red Sea for them to evade Pharaoh’s league. Now, imagine that the children of Israel had insisted on being chauffeur-driven from one bank of the Red Sea to the other.
Would they have escaped Pharaoh’s chariots? Not at all. They would have perished there and then.
The moral of this is that it is high time we started doing our part, as a people. Demanding what is rightfully ours because freedom is not granted by the oppressor, is a good starting point.
In this regard, my lowest point as a Malawian, was the day when the Education budget was sliced in parliament. Despite a multitude of pro-education lobbyists cum experts in education, despite armies of youth interest groups, no one, not one was in evidence at Parliament to give the much-needed moral support to the MPs that were gallantly fighting for the Education budget.
It was as if the Education budget would only benefit be children of opposition MPs. Good people, have we no sense of self-worth?
How can we have no empathy for our own children? If we cannot be our brother’s keeper, the least we can do is be our children’s keepers!
Do we honestly expect the Opposition MPs, on their own and without our moral support, to fight and win our battles while we are busy debating on Facebook?
We are indeed a hopeless lot that thrives in self-pity! If Pres Peter Mutharika is clueless, then we are as useless as buckets without a bottom!
How can we sit phwiiii and serve as spectators when a critical budget as one for Education is being mercilessly gutted so that the State House Budget is fattened? Shame on my fellow country men and women! Shame on Chilima’s idiots!
While am disappointed with you , with the powers that be, I am failing to get angry. Mine is only pity and an overwhelming sense of déjà vu.
When banquet halls and marques supersede feeding the masses, when halls for merrymaking rank higher than educating the youth and when massaging oversized egos beats providing health care fit for human beings; his excellency the Weighbridge Assistant really has a lot of reasons to cringe at any pronouncement of word of prophecy and indeed to get paranoid with a jolt of simultaneous amnesia and déjà vu.
All I can say is that Chinua Achebe, yet another Nigerian, was right in saying: “an old woman is always uneasy when dry bones are mentioned in a proverb”.
The thought: “I think I’ve forgotten this before” can give the bravest of us sleepless nights!
To conclude this Easter reflection Amayi ndi Abambo, I started with a reference to the VP’s alluding to commentators on issues of public interest as idiots.
I want to remind Angoni SK Chilima of late Bishop Zuza’s Prophetic Sermon. People who think they hold exclusive right, access and ownership to wisdom are called “chitsiru chamunthu” or “chindere chakufikapo” in Chichewa and Tumbuka respectively, is what the late Bishop said.
Leaders who listen attentively can learn a lot even out of the mouths of babes and sucklings. Let those with ears, hear.
In case I do not write again before Easter, I want to wish a productive Lenten Season, blessings in the Holy Week and a blessed Easter to you people of goodwill!
I rest my case.