Hon Folks, where is a miniature flag to hang at my house to show the world I am in a celebratory mood. It’s independence, stupid!
And on 6th July 2017, we are commemorating 53 years of being an independent sovereign State. That is no mean achievement, is it?
Some folks are speculating, especially on social media, that the DPP government has produced a special cloth predominantly blue in colour for the occasion. Tell me this is “fake news”.
How can anyone, let alone a politician, be so insensitive as to be bluntly partisan at a time when we should all embrace the colours that define us as the Malawi nation?
There is no blue among the colours of our flag!
Unfortunately, wherever the national flag is mounted to mark the occasion of our independence anniversary, it’s juxtaposed with DPP colours. It has always been like that in the entire 23 years of multiparty government.
It is as if only the ruling party sufficiently constitutes a multiparty government! In a democracy where the president is elected on a first-past-the-post basis, nothing is farther from the truth. As is the case now, only 36 percent of the electorate voted for Peter Mutharika, the DPP’s presidential candidate in the 2014 elections.
Which brings me to the issue of concern: how independence anniversary is used to divide instead of uniting us, Malawians.
Under the pretext of low budget, independence celebrations are a low-key affair nowadays, revolving around the President like a presidential mass rally. Rotating from one regional capital to another, the celebrations are pretty much an elite affair, savoured mostly by those who by virtue of their office ought to grace the occasion. Anamalamba.
In numerical terms, attendance of independence celebrations is probably around 50 000. As for the rest in a population of close to 18 million, there’s nothing at all done to make them remember they are part and parcel of an independent sovereign nation of Malawi.
To them, 6th July is as cold as the inside of a refrigerator. They stay home, swallowing saliva to lubricate their parched throats, their hope shattered by mediocre leadership and the deprivation only the free condemned to a long-term of excruciating poverty would know.
Kamuzu shackled independent Malawians in autocracy, forcing us to smile, sing songs of praise for his leadership under the threat of detention without trial or being turned into meat for crocodiles if we dared scream in pain.
But at least he did not “eat” independence alone. It was an all-nation event starting with prayers. On 6th July, there was a big national event at the stadium in Blantyre the apex of which was an international football match.
In the evening of the big day there were dances, food and drinks in various places in Blantyre to which leaders from all parts of the country were invited. The rest of us had our day at district and area levels a week or so later.
There is no denying quite a fortune was spent but it gave us a sense of belonging. At least we ate, drunk and danced together, celebrating that we were no longer under the york of colonialism.
Cutting the independence celebrations budget is what all the so-called democratic leaders who came after Kamuzu have been doing for the past 23 years. Ironically, none of them appears as frugal in their annual pilgrimage to the UN General Assembly in New York.
The President goes there with a legion of stooges and cronies who for weeks roam the Manhattan streets and do shopping at the expense of the tax-payer, probably spending a lot more in foreign exchange than would have been spent on making us all celebrate independence together.
I bet if these folks in government were to contribute half the amount probably stashed in their homes, not bank accounts, we would have all the goats, chickens, thobwa and beer needed for a week-long celebration of independence anniversary.
May be it’s just as well that the fat cats in the higher echelons of power have made the celebrations about themselves and not of all of us. What’s there to celebrate anyway?
Kamuzu used to tell us that the global community used to say as far as agriculture was concerned, Malawi wasn’t just a performer but a star performer. Today, having a food surplus is an exception, the world knows Malawi as a basket case where annually between 25 and 40 percent of the population survive on food handouts.
Crop diversity and irrigation have been a never-ending song with very little, if any, to show for it. The world knows Malawi has wasted 53 years of independence and peace, including 23 years of multiparty democracy.
Corruption is so rampant yet much of the noise about prosecuting Cashgate is focused on suppliers whose accounts are used for en-cashing government cheques at 10 percent commission. Those in government, including the political masters who pocket up to 90 percent of the loot, are virtually shielded by a system so terribly rotten.
Still independence gives us hope that someday we shall put in office leaders who will inspire hope. So, carry your flag and I will carry for independent Malawi the only place we can call home.