Our national anthem has been on my mind a lot these past few days. As our politicians lurch from one governance scandal to the next with the usual airs of arrogance, one cannot help but pray: Mulungu dalitsani Malawi! Paul Sauka’s music arrangement for our national call to arms is as exquisite as it is faultless. I still feel a puff of pride in my chest when the Malawi Police Brass Band bangs its drums to this piece of awesomeness. Beautiful words accompany this beautiful tune. But what do the words mean today? I have had a think and here are some of my thoughts:
O God bless our land of Malawi
I had a long think about this. I do not think God is listening. We never get a rub of the green. Instead, we always get some mediocre personalities to undertake some of the most important tasks of State: Ministers who disregard constitutional procedures and public officers who consider procurement as a business opportunity for their wives. Malawi Inc is in dire straits and we desperately need some top shelf managers.
Another week, another scandal; and yes, you guessed it, no repercussions: from fake dykes to substandard bridges, unnecessary diaries, bungs disguised as constituency development funds. It is almost as if we live in a horrible Groundhog County, where ‘refute’ is the only word close to accountability that the ruling elite know. Our problems are many but a significant portion are self-inflicted. While the political mouthpieces bore us to death with refutations, ask yourself this: Are we in a position to afford a K4 billion so-called constituency development fund? Where is this money coming from? Why would you channel development funds in this way?
Keep it a land of peace
Now, clearly the good Lord has answered this part of the prayer too well. Our politicians do what they do because they know they can get away with anything. Our reactions will in most cases be muted if at all. Many of our compatriots go to bed hungry, die from preventable diseases, have no opportunity for education etc; and still no one gets angry enough to tell our politicians that enough is enough!
The problem as I see it is that our politicians know our electorate too well. It is not you, The Nation-reading and Facebook-posting masses that determine the vote. Rather, it is our brothers and sisters from the villages who for various reasons get impressed my mouth infrastructure (mouth infrastructure includes infrastructure made by mouth, often preceded by the laying of a very unnecessary foundation stone) and other fake promises from our politicians.
So I ask this of you, if you want to see change, make sure that our cousins from the villages are connected. If you can, buy them a simple phone with WhatsApp and Facebook so that they can see mouth infrastructure politicians for what they are. If we change the information available to our citizens everywhere, perhaps the good Lord can start blessing this land of Malawi as he has done in Korea, Singapore and Malaysia.
Put down each and every enemy
Now, this bit I like because if there is one thing God likes doing to bad people, it is to strike them hard, very hard. Ezekiel 25:17 says thus: “And I will execute great vengeance upon them with furious rebukes; and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall lay my vengeance upon them’. Unfortunately, however, it seems that the Lord is not answering this part of the prayer often enough. Bad people seem to prosper and I am not seeing those furious rebukes visiting upon corrupt politicians and public officers.
However, they say the Lord answers in his own time. So every time I see one of our bigshots putting their hands on their chests during the anthem, I cannot help but wonder if they are surreptitiously checking their heart rates just in case the God to whom this anthem is addressed has decided to put down each and every enemy.
Hunger, disease, envy
Here, I think the venerable Sauka got it wrong. He urges us to pray for the symptoms. As a result we have allowed the real enemies to thrive: Corruption, nepotism and incompetence. It’s only after we tackle these that there will be no hunger, disease or envy.
Join together all our hearts as one, that we be free from fear
This is a good thought. We really need to be free from fear. In recent weeks, our Vice President has been about the place talking about ethics in public service. I recommend him for this. Not many that stand next to him would say the word ethics without choking. However, many of us are still too afraid to call out incompetence, corruption and nepotism for what it is for reasonable fears related to livelihoods etc. I understand this and urge all of us to keep working for a Malawi where it is okay to call out the incompetents.
Bless our leader, each and every one, and Mother Malaŵi.
I would put reasonable preconditions to this request to God. Bless our leader but only if he or she does not preside over or condone corruption; and if he or she has the necessary skills to resolve the kinds of problems that our country faces. But I am guessing that is a bit too long for an anthem verse, so I will default to put down each and every enemy as it covers all bases.
God bless Mother Malawi.
* The author is from Bangwe and sometimes teaches law