For the past weeks, Malawi has been in the international news for all the wrong reasons. This nation which many of citizens claims to be God-fearing has become so superstitious that there are certain people who believe Malawi has been touted as the Warm Heart of Africa because of warmth its people exude every time they meet a stranger. The stranger could be from another country or one community member visiting another villager. They are welcome with warmth and smile.
If you ask the most religious people, they will tell you that Malawi is a God fearing nation—even though the Constitution which is supposed to articulate such proclamations does not say so. Forget that even political leaders now and then call on God when things are not going well in the country especially the economy.
Malawi is also a very superstitious nation. One only needs to look at what happened sometime back in Neno where four elderly people were killed in cold blood. Reason? They were suspected of killing their 17-year-old granddaughter through witchcraft. My heart bleeds when I imagine the pain these grannies went through as the mob descended on them beating them until they could not scream for help anymore. This is so heartless.
I still can’t comprehend that in this day there are still people who believe that something as natural as a lightning is witchcraft. But I am not totally surprised. Malawians—educated or uneducated, well travelled or not are superstitious. The only difference between those in the village and those living in air-conditioned houses, is that the former believes in witchcraft while the latter believes in demons. This is why prophets are mushrooming everywhere and I have to say they are also doing quite well in urban areas—both in brainwashing and making money.
Sometime back, I visited a friend. What I found shocked me to the core. I found my friend in the middle of praying and casting out demons in a cockroach. According to my good friend, cockroaches are used by the devil (Satan) to attack people. Forget the fact that this friend’s place is usually untidy hence inviting cockroaches. That’s the level of superstition apparent in our country.
It is this superstitious attitude that makes even the think-tanks like Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe believe there is some form of supernatural beings and forces that are sabotaging Malawi’s economy. I dare say there is none. It is our own failure to properly manage the economy. And don’t even blame it on donors’ withdrawal of aid.
Almost 52 years of independence and with a regular in-flow of donor money, what have we really achieved? How have we used that money? In many cases the money has gone straight into people’s pockets instead of its intended purpose.
It is a pity that this behaviour of always suspecting demons or witchcraft for our misfortunes is so internalised among many that sometimes it has become a barrier to development. So, after killing someone because of suspected witchcraft do the problems instantly go away? Nope. Actually, it’s more problems.
Malawians, oftentimes find it hard to appreciate the elderly as a blessing to those of us who are young