‘Tchopanomics and Stupidity’

I was introduced to a short story titled ‘Love is a Fallacy’ by Mr Samu Samu when he taught us logic as the science of thinking. The story introduces one to the common fallacies of logic. I was reminded of logic when I read a story titled ‘It’s Tchopamomics, Stupid’ in the Weekend Nation. With a burning desire to be funny and witty, the article is nothing but offensive and incoherent.

The author compared ‘Tchaponomics to Reagonomics’. Perhaps one needs to start from the fact that Ronald Reagan was a person, as such, it makes sense for those who coined the phrase ‘Reaganomics’ because it was the man who was responsible for making those economic policy decisions. It does not make sense to equate a person to a dance called Tchopa.

A dance cannot make any economic decisions. To equate the President to a dance is unfair and illogical. While the President is Lhomwe, you cannot equate one individual to an entire tribe. Doing so is to commit the fallacy of hasty generalisation. The generalisation is reached too hastily. There are too few instances to support such a conclusion.

The author makes another fallacy in his quest to analyse the economic policies of Malawi under President Peter Mutharika. This is the fallacy of ‘Dicto Simpliciter’, a mistake one commits by making an argument based on unqualified generalisation.

The author mentions that “Tchopanomics is steeped in a strong sense of economic emancipation which made Bingu mess up old established relations with Western donors early in his second term [2009-12]”.

This statement is wrong. The economic policies of “emancipation”, as the author calls them, were not the cause by the consequence of the relations breakdown.

The economic policies were a reaction after the “donors” had walked away from Malawi. The cause of the walking away had nothing to do with economic policies. It had everything to do with two issues. First, it was Bingu’s refusal to legalise gay marriages in Malawi. Second, it was a reaction to the fact that Bingu had declared the British High Commissioner to Malawi Fergus Cochrane-Dyet persona non grata and was given just 72 hours to leave the country after he labelled Bingu “autocratic”, “combative” and “intolerant of criticism” over the former Malawi leader’s stand on minority rights.

In addition, the author claims that some “economists” arguing like students looking at the real world through a classroom window bought into Bingu’s thinking that trade and not aid is what will develop Malawi. This is another common fallacy called ‘Hypothesis Contrary to Fact’.

If this was true, Malawi should have not been described as poor after so many years of receiving aid. The hypothesis is that aid has developed Malawi and yet the fact is that Malawi has not developed despite decades of aid. In this case, who is the student? The third Financing Development Conference in Addis Ababa which looked at how to finance Sustainable Development Goals stated that “international trade is an engine for inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction, and contributes to the promotion of sustainable development”.

Back to Tchopa, perhaps the author is not aware that out of all the dances in Malawi, there are three dances that United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) proclaimed as intangible cultural heritage. The other two are Gule Wankulu and Vimbuza. Tchopa is usually performed during celebrations after good harvests, successful hunting trips and during offerings to ancestral spirits after calamities such as droughts and outbreaks of disease. So, equating the spiritual heritage of Malawi to Reagan is a sign of ignorance of the Malawi’s cultural diversity. n

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