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Malawi, Jai ho!

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There is plenty of goodwill to save this nation from the state of damnation it is currently in. Last week I sat in two very important meetings, with both trying to find a panacea for our national ills. I am sure other meetings are being held elsewhere for a similar purpose. But what progress are we making?

The prevalent narrative about this nation is that we have become the very symbol of decadence and we need a serious overhaul. Those who do not mince words said we are a nation of thieves, defilers and hypocrites who have decided to veil our misconduct under the pious sounding epithet of God fearing nation.

Two or three weeks ago, a truck carrying maize rammed into a fence of a primary school in Bangwe and claimed three lives. Four months ago, a lorry carrying the popular opaque beer veered off the road and killed both mother and daughter. From these tragic and gory scenes, some people saw an opportunity to loot and, while a few good people were trying to save the survivors, most were busy scavenging on the maize and the beer. This, for any sane person, is blatant thievery because, accident or not, the maize and the beer were not to be free for all. But, as usual for us, we take advantage of chaos for us to play our sinful acts without anyone noticing.

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We have become so heartless that we think of me, myself and I, such that the next person has been reduced to almost nonexistence. Take, for example, the spirit behind the infamous looting of public funds which we have even given the sweet sounding name of Cashgate. Obviously, those thieves did not, for a second, think of an old woman dying of hunger in Nthalire, an old man quickened on his heavenly chariot because hospitals have no drugs in Thava, an asthmatic girl dropping out of primary school because her condition cannot allow her to be learning in a badly ventilated mud and grass thatched classroom in Kasisi. All they cared for was them.

And this dying spirit of selflessness, humanity and nationalism is what has dragged this nation into the mire of privation and left it there. The only time we find the necessity of pleasing someone is when we know we are going to get a penny for it. Come to think of this. In Parliament last week, the so-called honourables (I find it a waste of honorific though) were debating the overdue Access to Information Bill. The voting pattern was predictable. Those from the government wanted to give us a butchered law that would have only served to maintain their seat on the ivory tower as it would mean continuously hiding their shenanigans from us. Those from the other fence believed the law is necessary to shake off those in power. Now, those in government have forgotten that one day they will be out of government and will need the very same law they were trying to block. What I read from the voting is that when people are in power their conscience goes into a dangerous hibernation such that they can do anything just to protect themselves or their master.

But, as so many voices of reason have put it, the law is not for the elite but for all Malawians. The people that never wanted the bill to become law will eventually become its beneficiaries. If we really had a spirit of nationalism, that bill should have had 193 ayes and zero nays but, as I said earlier, we think of ourselves more than others, let alone this good nation.

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What am I saying? We need, if at all we care, to accept that we have lost our national halo and we have become selfish in most of the things we do. In the two meetings I earlier said I attended, there was a mixture of hope and hopelessness. Hope in that there are some men and women of goodwill who are ready to sacrifice for the betterment of this nation. On the other hand, there was an air of hopelessness considering that it is not easy to change the mindset of a people who have embraced a culture of stealing, cheating, lying and bootlicking. For the latter, I, too, believe that these are people the nation can expend if at all we are to take some grand nation leap to development.

But I insist there is so much hope for this nation and the signs were seen last week. The determination of the opposition to get the unadulterated Access to Information Bill passed is worth of praise and a beacon of hope. It would only be a confirmation of grand ineptitude of inanity for President Peter Mutharika to delay assenting to it. Malawians wanted this bill and the opposition members of Parliament have their names engraved in the marble of this nation’s memory, and to them and Malawi, Jai ho!

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