August 13 2020
Shortly after Lazarus Chakwera emerged winner at the June 23 fresh presidential election, one Herbert Chandilanga made a comment on his Facebook profile. Coming from a journalist background, Herbert suggested one of the people in the media could chase for comment was Rosemary Dinala, popularly known as Mayi Dinala.
In a way, Mayi Dinala was the face of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) in a distinctive fashion. For all the years that the party was in opposition, Mayi Dinala stuck to the party. If anything, one of the four cornerstones of that party, loyalty, seemed to run in her blood.
It was, therefore, with shock that news came that Mayi Dinala was no more. It was then that reflections on her greatness came to the fore. Too bad there appeared no Mayi Dinala interview when the party she so long remained obedient to finally won a poll, 26 years after being ousted from power.
This, make no mistakes, is not mere political patter. Mayi Dinala was a 3-D person from whom we can learn one or two things. She can be classified as the mother, or is it granny, of some political thought. You can put her in the class Dorothy Masuka in the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa. These are the typical mother figures not only of the struggle for freedom, but also for being faithful in the course.
Herbert would agree that Mayi Dinala represents a front that is into politics not particularly merely gains. If it were so, we could have heard that she defected to other political parties. In essence, defection means the search for political and economic greener pastures.
Mayi Dinala served the party on principle. For her, politics was a matter of principle. She held on to a course when everybody else seemed to let go. From the time the chants of tatopa ndi kongeresi and We Want Change, she stood firm.
An image that sticks to mind at the moment is seeing her on the red carpet, at Chakwera’s inauguration. She was barefooted on that carpet. That was rooted in her advanced age. But then, the smile on her face sent another message, that the faith she held had born a fruit.
Two months later, Mayi Dinala is gone.
Listening to the eulogies as her body lay in state, you could see Mayi Dinala was like a work of art. She was a painting from whom some saw a motherly figure, others saw a devouted Christian, while some others saw a beloved neighbour. In all, most people saw in her a political figure not bent on changing parties for personal glorification.
Her passage comes at a time the party she supported, without really looking for much in return, is faced with the heavy task of correcting a past that is rotten to the bone.
Here is a party that must correct the evil that became our lands sector. You can only imagine a regime that saw the sale of public land en masse to private hands! For that matter, here is a regime that even encroached on customary land, leaving the poor of our poor even landless!
This is an initial mess that needs a total overhaul. Land meant for markets is now in private hands, all because of the deep-rooted corruption that characterised the ancient regime. How else do you explain members of staff at the Blantyre Agriculture Development Division (Bladd) sharing among themselves public land for the simple reason that it had remained idle for some time? If that is not madness, ask me what is.
One need not go to length and breadth how the party Mayi Dinala so loved and its Tonse Alliance has to go to clear the rot in the statutory corporations. Apart from operating as sub-branches of the ruling party, corporations like Admarc and Escom conducted themselves as headless chickens trying to cross the road.
Hamba Kahle Mayi Dinala.