Those who are 50 years old or more will certainly take such situations as a matter of deâ€˜jaâ€™vu. They will encourage themselves, saying if we survived that challenge, maybe we can survive this one.
But to youths, especially those who have never been in such a situation, it may be a frightening experience. To them, such a time may even mean the apocalypse.
Even some people who are not necessarily young, but have short memories, may also see the problem as the end of the world.
Those who were around in 1964, when Malawi attained independence from Britain colonial masters, may recall that the country also faced the fuel and forex crises.
In the mid 1970s, petrol prices shot up to dizzying heights due to the Arab-Israeli War or Yom Kippur War in the Jewish language.
In those times government ordered petrol service stations to only open between 6am and 6pm.
This problem was not only peculiar to Malawi. I remember occasions when Zambian drivers from border towns of Chipata and Lundazi would cross over to Malawi to buy petrol stealthily.
Those caught were being fined together with their Malawian collaborators.
Bad times come and go. Unfortunately, most people easily forget such times.
Economic history teaches us that conditions do not remain the same forever.
Economies are subject to drastic changes of prosperity and poverty known as business cycles.
Any economics student learns about recessions, depressions, expansions and booms which come and go on capitalist or market economy.
As we discuss what happens in industrialised market economies, we should not forget the ups and downs in simpler, non-financial economies.
These economies suffer due to the vicissitudes of nature. The best example is what happened in Egypt during the time of a certain Pharaoh and Joseph, the son of Jacob.
According to the biblical account, there were seven years of plenty which were followed by another seven years of famine, resulting from good rainy seasons changing place with years of droughts.
According to records from Livingstonia missionaries stationed at Bandawe in Nkhata Bay and Njuyu in Mzimba, the Northern Malawi experienced severe drought in 1886.
The next severe drought occurred between 1918 and 1919. This one was aggravated by the Spanish flu whose casualties included Ida, wife to Reverend John Chilembwe.
I still recall the great famine of 1949.
Although Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda was still in England practising medicine at the time, he was so concerned with the famine that he used to make references to it in his speeches when he became president. Another bad famine happened in 1979. These famines took place at a regular space of 30 years.
We learn from American history that their economy has been subject to business cycle since its existence.
There are times when business conditions have been healthy, generating huge profits for companies and creating meaningful jobs for people. Such times of prosperity usually have had unhappy endings.
The early 1990s in the US were called golden years. The country prospered, of course, with some minor recessions jutting in only to be followed by the 2007- 2009 financial meltdown which affected North America and Europe in a big way.
To be continued on Monday