No matter how free we claim to be many years after our country obtained independence and subsequently attained democracy several years later, it appears there are still some mortals in this world who would go to any length to make our people feel less of a human being than they are.
These people have the audacity to step onto our land with their noses in the air and, sadly, we placate them with all sorts of titles and names once they have announced their ‘mission’ and, unsurprisingly, many come under the disguise of being investors and then get to a lot of foolery once they have settled in.
I guess we had been under the illusion that we had dealt with colonisation wholesale when the founding father of the Malawi nation Ngwazi Kamuzu Banda broke the “stupid federation”. Clearly, colonisation of the mind is still a problem we have to grapple with, if events that have unfolded this past week are anything to go by.
How one Chinese managed to fool a whole bunch of people at Njewa in Lilongwe and get to rally children donning what appeared to be school uniform into yelling some well-chronicled nasty utterances (not worth repeating), at the beckon of this person (I hear they called him shushu, which is Chinese for uncle) is totally beyond me. Never mind that the incident happened almost two years ago but the fact that it has surfaced now means that we are too sleepy a people to let such despicable acts occur right under our very noses and no one bothered to raise a red flag. Somehow somewhere, there should have been murmurs of disapproval, if not the parents or chiefs then at least others within the community, including community-based organisations.
The other day it was a national of the same country allegedly abusing two local chaps at a construction site up in Mzuzu. Did they not say lightning does not strike the same place twice?
Sorry but, just like everybody else, this recent episode has me seething with rage.
We need not treat such cases with kid gloves. I remember some years ago a certain manager of a recreation centre had used an unprintable name to describe local workers and he was taken to task while a cook at a certain company, who literary ‘pissed’ on the local junior staff, found himself on the next available flight back home.
It is time government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, popularised some of the policies that we, as a country, follow, in as far as dealing with foreign nationals is concerned so that people can begin to raise the alarm when they observe something that is abnormal. The rules of engagement must be made crystal clear to the ordinary person such that once foreign nationals show up on their doorstep or in the community, they would know exactly what to do and stay alert where need be. I wonder if the Ministry of Home Affairs, through the Department of Immigration and Citizen Services, does keep tabs on some of these people from abroad who just linger around in some of the trade centres and villages in some districts. It should not just be for cameras and publicity that Immigration Department personnel come out and announce capture of undocumented immigrants or those whose permits expired. This should be an on-going exercise and people like shushu, who are a menace to our society, must be dealt with accordingly.
We will take the Minister of Foreign Affairs for her word that the authorities are already investigating the issue and that they are liasing with the Chinese Embassy in the hope of tracing this ‘shushu’ person. Should it turn out that he already left the country, then he certainly must be brought back to answer for his transgressions. Nobody should take Malawians for fools.
Yes, we enjoy diplomatic ties with a lot of countries but, sometimes, we need not be overly respectful where things have gone wrong. The Chinese Embassy has issued a statement condemning the acts by their national but, still, there was a need to call them out, just so they are clear that such nonsensical behaviour can never be tolerated.
Stephen Dakalira is a seasoned Journalist who works as Times Group’s Online and Digital Executive Editor. He is also the Assistant Editor of The Sunday Times Newspaper, and author of Full Circle column which appears in Malawi News; all of these under the Times Group stable.
He has previously worked in key positions for some of Malawi’s key media institutions such as Malawi News Agency, Capital FM Radio and Star Radio (Now Timveni Radio).