Editorial CommentOpinion & Analysis

Let us be seen to be living the John Chilembwe way


The freedom we are enjoying today— or the semblance of it— did not come on a silver platter.
This is because there were people who put their heads on the rail, in most cases wading through the river of their own blood, to drown the idle of oppression.
It seems that, somehow, representatives of the colonial powers did not understand that some principles, such as that of fair dealing between one human being and another, are supposed to fit into the order of the universe as a whole, and not necessarily the order of the universe of the ruling elite or those close to the trappings of power only.
John Chilembwe must surely have been thoroughly inflamed, having seen his people being violently distempered by messengers of the colonial masters, to stake his life on the rail of death so that we, Malawians he never knew but could only dream of, could be free one day.
Of course, it is possible that some elements among the colonialists took advantage of the fact that the British Empire was a disconnected, infinitely diversified empire to advance personal interests at the expense of the empire, but it is a fact that those who represented the interests of the empire ill-treated the people.
Therefore, due to the overzealousness of some people in the colonial era, people like Chilembwe had to rise up in defence of their people in the uprising of 1915 and other minor struggles, culminating in the death of most of the Africans who were on the side of freedom.
It took another 49 years or so, for the Union Jack to be exiled to Britain, when Malawi attained independence in 1964.
For a while, things started to work, before the idol of political overzealousness took over our sense of responsibility to one another; so that, as we are speaking, tribalism has taken root and regionalism is at the root of governance in Malawi.
Contrary to Chilembwe’s wishes.
Today, contrary to Chilembwe’s aspirations, our leaders favour those from their regions and do not appoint people to public positions on merit.
They let their cronies, even when it is clear that they are stuck knee deep in the mud of corruption, scot-free. Public education is a preserve of the few while megalomania has become the order of the day.
Surely, we are not living according to the wishes of Chilembwe and must come back to our senses, realise that there is no one without the other and move forward as a nation.
That way, we will embrace the tonic called unity and, together, march towards the pillar of sustainable development.
Let today serve as a point of reflection.

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