What we want and what we become is a riddle that gets best answered by time. Times know us better than ourselves. It is our greatest friend; it leads us to destinations we rightly deserve.
Look here, Kamlepo Kalua always wanted to be a State President. This man, I can confess, loves Malawi and when he wanted to be the Head of State, his wish, I can argue, was purely out of goodwill—his grand wish to uphold and consolidate democratic values that he fought hard for in the early 1990s.
However, the more Kamlepo wanted, the more he was denied. Of course, in a heavily regionalised nation, Kamlepo—being from the less populated North—was already at a disadvantage.
However, we can always debate if Kamlepo, indeed, was denied by the electorate or, perhaps, he could not understand the capacity he could better serve our democracy.
I argue Kamlepo didn’t understand himself better to understand the type of capacity he could serve our democracy better.
You see, I know it’s the dream of most politicians to rise high to the office of the Presidency. However, politicians such as Kamlepo can better serve this country in opposition than in the Executive.
He was, in his bearded and camouflage times of a fighter, overtly assertive, detailed, inquisitive, well-read and, above all, fearless in fighting for what he believes in. Today, what has changed is that he has a shaved chin and, instead of camouflage, he is in suits. The rest has not changed.
Truth be told, such attributes make Kamlepo more of a great fighter—somebody who can advocate, than a President sitting on a lofty couch in State House.
His role in the foundation of our democracy, in the early 1990s, was critical. Kamlepo was central, operating in South Africa, in raising a critical mass that rose against 31 years of Hastings Banda’s dictatorship.
Even after he lost the 1994 presidency, Kamlepo was central in keeping Bakili Muluzi’s presidency on the check. He was revolutionary, of course; but his ways managed to keep Muluzi in the check.
He never changed keeping government in check. He was always getting arrested and when I interviewed him in 2012, he counted nine times of being bars.
However, we always experience Kamlepo outside every arm of government. When he won the Rumphi East parliamentary seat, we were all curious as to what the legislator Kamelpo would do.
I don’t know much about how his constituency rates him, but on a national level Kamlepo has been a critical force that, in my humble opinion, has helped so much to keep the Executive in check. He is to Peter Mutharika what John Tembo was during Bingu Wa Mutharika’s first term.
With a complacent and just wordy Lazarus Chakwera on the seat of the opposition leader, Kamlepo has used his might and fearless attitude to unearth the hidden and bring them out to generate an informed debate on the state of our affairs in the country.
This is why when we met last year at his son’s house in Nyambadwe, I could hardly hide my appreciation of him. There is no way I could pay him back but promise to be his biographer. I reveal today that I am writing his story and, soon and God willing, it will hit the bookshops.
People such as Kamlepo, Patricia Kaliati, David Rubadiri, Kings Phiri, Lucius Banda, Shepherd Bushiri, Leston Mulli, Thom Mpinganjira, Mary Waya, Rachel Sibande, Emma Kaliya and, of course, Alfred Ntonga need to celebrated for the varying contributions they have rendered and continue to render to the country.
I have begun with Kamlepo whom I am happy time has soared him to the measure he deserves. You, too, can make a pick.