‘Weeds only affect crops when left to grow unchallenged’

 We are still here in Kasungu. Since we came and camped here, we have travelled to Mtunthama to see the Kamuzu Academy, the school that has produced some of the finest physicians, engineers, members of Parliament, religious leaders, and, of course, thieves.

We have also been to other areas including Ngulu ya Nawambe where, according to legend and folklore Mwase Kasungu thrice defeated the Jere Ngoni impis. However, it was at Chief Njombwa and at Chulu that we enjoyed ourselves the most.

“You know what?” Jean-Philippe said as we watched the chadzunda in performance at Chulu, “this country is sitting on gold.”

“Of course, every country sits on gold,” I said.

“Correct but I am talking about cultural gold, “Jean-Philippe clarified his statement. “Imagine this man staging such an act in Berlin, Moscow, New York and Rio de Janeiro.”

“Which man?” Nganga asked.

“Is he a boy?” Jean-Philippe asked, face contorted in confusion.

“No. It is an animal, a spirit dancing there,” I said.


“Chirombo,” Abiti Joyce Befu said.

“And you believe that man is an animal or spirit? Jean-Philippe asked, sarcastically, adding, “Shakespeare writes in Macbeth, ‘tis the eye of childhood that fears a painted devil.”

“Correct but that relates to ‘the sleeping and the dead (who) are but as pictures. But here we are witnessing a live spirit performance,” the Most Paramount Native Authority Mandela said.

“Okay. My point is that if these spirit or animal performances were commercialised and made to tour the world, Malawi would make money, huge money to support its development and underfunded education system and buy medicines for its bludgeoning population.”

“I totally agree,” I agreed.

During the evening we watched the last presidential debate that the DPP and Tikonze Movement boycotted. It was interesting to see all the candidates join the Catholic Church, the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian, the Judicial Service and British, American, EU, and German ambassadors in openly saying that there is a lot of corruption in Malawi.

Even those still serving in and salaried by the current government did not pretend that there was haemorrhage of resources that should have developed Malawi a long time ago had accountability, oversight and governance mechanisms, including umunthu, been in place and fully practiced.

“So, if all these people agree there is corruption in Malawi. But who is corrupt?” Jean Philippe wondered.

“Those not present in the debate, perhaps,” I said.

“But in their manifestoes and utterances, those absent also say someone else is corrupt, meaning perhaps those attending this presidential debate are corrupt!” Abiti said.

“What it means is that all the candidates maybe corrupt and all of us are corrupt too,” Native Authority Mandela concluded.

“All?” I asked. “At least I am not.”

“By keeping quiet and watching corruption drain the nation’s resources; by clapping hands and voting into power again and again corrupt people; by saying nothing when we see project implementers claim huge sums of money for shoddy work; by allowing state capture to grow wings and allowing one foreign company ‘win without even bidding’ all road construction projects, control land and lake transport we are indeed all corrupt,” Abiti said.

“This is one of the greatest summaries to have come from you, Prof and leader of delegation. Indeed, weeds only affect crops when left to grow unchallenged,” I said.

“The Chewa people say, muvi oyang’anira suchedwa kulasa m’maso!” I said.

“Meaning?” Jean-Philippe asked. n

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