Hallow Mr Phiri, you were writing for newspapers. Do you still write?
I have received this question rather too often by not too few persons. I have answered it with reluctance because the person asking is by his command of English definitely well-educated. So this is one of those persons people mean when they say Malawians do not read either books or newspapers.
How do people who do not read newspapers keep themselves informed about events at home and abroad? Possibly they listen to radio broadcasts. But the radio is no substitute for what we learn from newspapers and magazines.
Does it matter even if one ignores what happens at home and abroad? Only a fool can ask such a question. Our lives are very much affected by the environment where we live and these days the whole world is our environment. What happens 6,000 miles way is likely to impact on our lives as that which happens only six miles away. Among such happenings are conflicts between nations (world wars) or between tribes of the same nation (civil war). A responsible person keeps themselves abreast of major events both at home and abroad and does not burry their head in the sand like an ostrich waiting for the storm to die.
Seventy-two years have gone since World War II ended in 1945. This is largely due to far-sighted politicians who founded international peace organisations such as the United Nations Organisation as a platform where differences between nations are peacefully discussed and tempers between delegates evaporate.
Do the seven decades imply that nations have permanently banished world wars? Britain’s influential magazine, The Economist, dated January 27 to February 2 2018 expresses the fears that most of us should share.
The two world wars – 1914- 1918 and 1939-1945 – arose out of attempt to attack obstinate small nations. In the First World War, Austria and Serbia were involved. In World War II, it was German and Poland. World War III could come earlier than we expected because of President Donald Trump’s obsession with North Korea’s nuclear weapons and the latter’s display of megalomania.
If North Korea at tacks any of America’s cities, Trump might counter-attack with greater force to try and obliterate the communist stay. In other words, the constant diatribe between the President of the United States (US) and that of North Korea could ignite World War III unless nations of the world talk sense to both sides.
It has been said that to ensure peace, we must prepare for war. The cold war which technically lasted from 1945 to 1989 did not result in a hot war because both the US and the Soviet Union were deadly equipped with weapons of mass destruction. If either of them had been much weaker than the other, the stronger party could have attacked the weaker as Hitler had been doing before September 3 1939.
The President of North Korea is not overawed by the might of the US because it has the Big Brother behind it. North Korea might be more circumspect if Japan and South Korea were permitted to develop their own nuclear weapons. Time is now when between the US and North Korea the quarrel is merely verbal. North Korea and China would not wish to be in conflict with both Washington and Tokyo. Dialogue would be preferred by all parties and the present generation could be spared the appalling evils of a Third World War. At the same time, the US ought to retreat from Taiwan and South Korea.
We hear on radios of ships and boats sinking in the Mediterranean and refugees from North Africa and South East Asia drowning in trying to reach Europe via Italy. Some of the people are from Africa, south of the Sahara, though Eritreans and Ethiopians seem to predominate.
Why do people from Africa and Asia flee to Europe though they are no longer welcome there? Why do they risk drowning? The answer is that political conditions in their own countries are such that there is little to choose between the risk or remaining at home and going into exile.
The bad conditions at home have arisen because greedy and intolerant politicians are dominant. These leaders have rejected the true elements of democracy such as freedom of association, equality of opportunities and free and fair elections to Parliament. These leaders want to remain in power to perpetually enrich themselves at the expense of tribes they treat as outsiders. The latter hate their oppressors.
How many Malawians engaged in active politics give a thought and time to the problems people of DR Congo, Central Africa Republic, Somalia, Eritrea and Libya experience? Do they try to find the cause of those conflicts? We have refugees here from Congo, Burundi and Rwanda. The younger generation of Malawians does not know that one million Mozambicans flooded our country and lived hard lives while contributing to the destruction of our ecosystems. Would we like being refugees in other countries?
Those people in Malawi who are resisting political reforms because they want to be the permanent rulers of the country are sowing seeds of hatred among regions, tribes and religion. This hatred might at one time in the near future result in blood conflicts. Unity and peace cannot be built on injustice. The objective of the reforms is to minimise conditions that breed conflicts.
Unless all the reforms are fully implemented, the 2019 election results will be followed by the Kenya situation in which two leaders will claim victory. Up to now, there is risk of civil war in Kenya.
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