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Beware of foolish friends

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Mdzukulu, it is a new year and Malawi needs a mentality transplant.

The following folktale, mdzukulu, preaches great insight into successful life.

Once a mouse and a frog were close friends.

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They spent most of their time together.

When the frog would go back to the pond, the mouse would miss it. In the same way, the frog grew sad every time the mouse went off in search of food.

So, they took a rope and tied one end of it around the frog’s leg and the other to the mouse’s foot. Every time they missed each other, one would pull the rope to call the other.

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One day, the frog went deep under water in the pond in search of food.

It forgot that its foot was tied with the mouse’s. It went deeper and deeper in the water. Soon the poor mouse was pulled into the water and drowned.

An eagle flying over the pond spotted the dead mouse.

The eagle came down, took the mouse in its beak and flew away. The frog, who was tied at the other end of the rope, was also found by the eagle.

The eagle ate it too. Thus, the lives of both friends came to an end because of their foolishness.

Indeed, a foolish friend can cause one more harm than their enemy.

Mdzukulu, mutu umodzi suzenza denga.

The four-word adage encapsulates age-old wisdom. The proverb advises leaders to accept and take heed of advice.

Connotatively, it means no person has a monopoly of wisdom.

Laurence Peter said: “There is no stigma attached to recognising a bad decision in time to install a better one.”

In fact, madness is staring into the abyss and denying it is there.

But, unfortunately, mdzukulu, the country’s political arena has many useless people who have succumbed to such madness. They buy expensive furniture, in addition to the Cabinet that, at best, only assists in putting in already governance-ailing eyes of leaders such as President Pater Mutharika green-tinted spectacles so that they see dry grey grass green.

Touching on that, according to Mahatma Gandhi’s seven deadly sins, the country is infested with some businesspeople and civil servants who are gaining wealth without doing any work; luxury-loving leaders without conscience; some dexterous media practitioners and technocrats without ethics; some religious leaders, traditional leaders and civil society that cannot sacrifice their personal interests for the common good; some vastly knowledgeable academics and political analysts without character; some great scientists without humanity, and some unprincipled politicians who keep on changing colours.

Democratic Progressive Party Southern Region vice-president George Chaponda, for example, though answering charges bordering on corruption, is as innocent as any Malawian until proven guilty by a competent court of law.

This, mdzukulu, is the minimum standard practice in civilised legal and political jurisdiction.

But Chaponda’s political stature entirely depends on the public’s court of opinion. And politics is a game of perceptions.

Politics, mdzukulu, is made to despise irresolution. The public have no time for procrastinators or dithers. They get particularly irritated if leaders avoid difficult decisions or are chronically unable to make up their minds.

Of course, irresolution should not be confused with due deliberation. It is not dithering or procrastinating to take the time to examine the map to make sure you are on the right road or to change your mind when it is clear that the choice you have made is not leading to where you want to go.

Mdzukulu, finally, great leaders desire only to serve, not to lead, observes Myles Munroe, a best-selling author and a widely acknowledged expert in leadership matters.

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