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Malawians in search of David

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With Tsibweni Chalo:

Mdzukulu, a prince had some monkeys trained in dancing.

Being naturally great mimics of human actions, they showed themselves most apt pupils, and when arrayed in their rich clothes and masks, they danced as well as any of the courtiers.

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The spectacle was often repeated with great applause, till on one occasion a courtier, bent on mischief, took from his pocket a handful of groundnuts and threw them upon the stage.

The monkeys, at the sight of the groundnuts, forgot their dancing and became (as indeed they were) monkeys instead of actors.

Pulling off their masks and tearing their robes, they fought with one another for the groundnuts.

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The dancing spectacle, thus, came to an end amid the laughter and ridicule of the audience.

“Monkeys will remain monkeys.”

Mdzukulu, while Malawi’s neighbours, Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique – a country once embroiled in a 16-year-old civil war – have made tremendous economic advancement, economically and socially, Malawi is standing exactly where it was 55 years ago, and there are telling signs the country will stagnate economically in probably another 100 years from now.

There are so many reasons for the economic backwardness of Malawi that can be classified into structural, altitudinal and political.

In the words of Sam Mpasu, Mdzukulu, Malawi in a democratic dispensation has had leaders without “the altitude and vision of the eagle, to see far”, but “the altitude and vision of the crow, to see no further than the next rubbish dump, for scavenging”.

To be precise, the country is dearth of leaders with practical reasoning.

Mdzukulu, elsewhere, one prolific writer reminds that the Bible records a classic story which offers some very good insights into the challenging task of choosing visionary and effective political leaders.

The story in question talks about a prophet Samuel who was sent by God to anoint the next king of Israel. Samuel was told to go and anoint one of the so many sons of Jesse as Saul’s successor.

One by one the seven sons of Jesse were paraded in front of Samuel but none of them received God’s approval. It was the youngest son David, a humble shepherd who was out in the field tending his father’s flock who passed the test and became Israel’s king in waiting.

Mdzukulu, David qualified to be the next king of Israel largely because of his inner, hidden qualities like humility, courage, hardworking, patriotism and selfless service to humanity, the majority of which were manifested later when he fought in a historic battle against the Philistines.

The task of identifying a good political leader in this context entails knowing someone much more deeply than just getting to know the candidate’s name, qualifications, professional experience, place of origin people like that.

Apparently, Mdzukulu, it is the inherent behaviour, embedded in the attitude, principles and virtues of a particular candidate, which makes him or her better placed to lead the masses.

Unfortunately most Malawians tend to ignore aspiring political leaders’ natural qualities at the expense of some cosmetic attributes such as name, place of origin and political party affiliation, just to mention a few.

By the end of the day, Mdzukulu, the country is stuck in the jaws excruciating poverty.

Surely, the many problems the country is grappling with arise from the shameless greed – dearth of the twin senses of shame and pride – and lack of love for the country by people charged with the responsibility of running its affairs. And they remain like that.

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