Good people, some people perceive the restoration of democracy in the country as the deathbed of Malawian literature.
This damning verdict of everything good about the pluralistic politics has it that too much freedom numbs creative minds and buries them in indifference.
It exalts flashbacks of imaginative writings of the legendary poet Felix Mnthali, Steve Chimombo, Jack Mapanje, Paul Zeleza and their golden generation which fashioned beautifully cryptic and incisive metaphors to confront excesses of founding president Hastings Kamuzu Banda’s dictatorship without overtly risking their lives.
It is hard to dispute that the Class of the 1970s, smelt and smoothed by the celebrated Chancellor College Writers Workshop, carried the hopes of an emerging nation starved of locally generated creative writings like their cross on the way to the Hill of Skulls. Many put their lives at risk of being sacked, detained, killed, expelled and accidentalised by the tyrant and his minions.
Here were giants who pushed pens with immeasurable dexterity, know-how, experience, confidence and pride that offers limitless lessons to the present school of writers.
However, many are times Malawians blamed democracy for almost every wrong the same way fornicators blame Satan for things the Evil One has not idea about.
We blame democracy for high crime rates that used to be met with the draconian fist of the tyrant’s youth leaguers and kangaroo courts instead of questioning the police system’s laxity in ensuring law and order.
We blame democracy for increased corruption as if we had a say or room to demand transparency from the fallen despot’s reign of secrecy. Yet all ill-gotten money going into bottomless pockets symbolise the rot of the people who pilfer public money-not the political system.
We blame democracy for dwindling quality of education, but we do not lack studies that attribute this to low investment in creating enabling conditions for excellence in teaching and learning.
We fault democracy for youth unemployment when 54 years after democracy, Malawi is not doing enough to create youthful workforce with quality education and relevant skills to create jobs and become the engine of the economy that will bring the dividends nations that are doing the right things will reap in the long run.
The way we deride democracy for all wrongs flourishing in our midst, including substandard literary works, suggests that Malawians embraced democracy without understanding what it really means.
It is not war as Kamuzu and his underlings repeatedly claimed when they were clinging to a snapping thread of unquestionable power.
War is what Rwanda was grappling with at the height of Tutsi vs Hutu genocide when Malawians, aged at least 21, were queuing to elect the lamp of democracy in 1993.
As it were, democracy is simply the government of the people, by the people and for the people.
So, it is the people who killed the art of writing that the people often blame of majority rule.
When people do not write like the people that old people remember with nostalgia, the people failing to write dexterously cannot blame the rule of the people, by the people and for the people for this.
In Malawi, the people have become too lazy to demand and give the very best in whatever they do.
Ask member of the golden generation, Kamuzu did not whip any of them to write well. They always strived for greatness.
Here is breaking news: June marks 25 years since the restoration of democracy and we are still praising Kamuzu and his rejected solo affair as if we have nothing to smile about the 1993 Referendum.
Is there anything worth celebrating about democracy? If not, why not? Where did we get it wrong?
The silver jubilee calls for serious soul-searching and efforts to set the record straight.n