Mindset change: Blood, toil, sweat and tears


Britain was feeling the pinch of the Second World War when Winston Churchill rose to become Prime Minister. When he summoned new ministers to the Admiralty House on 13 May 1940, he told them: ‘I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.’ A few hours later he repeated that in the House of Commons as he spoke there for the first time as Prime Minister

In the House of Commons Churchill went on to add, ’we have before us an ordeal of the most grievious kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and suffering. You ask what is our policy? I will say it is to wage war by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark and lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy’

It does not require a Jewish prophet nor a son of Malawi to prophecy that Malawi continues to undergo through an economic quagmire. What should be our policy now to fish our beloved nation from the shackles and manacles of endless poverty? We have to wage a brutal war against poverty. Let us fight it in the sea. Let us conquer the waters we have in lakes and rivers and utilise them for irrigation to do away with the perennial monster of hunger. Let us conquer the war of poverty on land. We have the most fertile land and it is unthinkable that we remain beggars of food and take pride in calling for our country to be called a state of disaster. We that have plenty land resource ask for food from those that have no fertile land.


The war against poverty should be waged in the air. We are a country that is blessed with the sun throughout the year but unable to capitalize on solar energy to boost our economy. We are a country blessed with wind but even though William Kamkwamba demonstrated that it is possible to harness energy from the wind, we let the wind just run and at times even wreck havoc. Why are we losing the war in the air?

We have the media that blast airwaves and front pages mostly with stories that demean us. Inspirational stories are never news worthy. A bit of the flickering stories about our country and its country men are covered by international broadcasters but not our own. It is Africa Focus on international TV channels that showcase some progress in Malawi not our local broadcasters. We have lost the script and have our default instinct towards negatives.

If Malawi is to rise beyond poverty then all its citizens should be ready to undertake greater sacrifices for the common good. It is imperative that those working in the public sector and entrusted with public resources put high above all the needs of the country at the top than personal gratification. The looting and plundering of public resources to satisfy the insatiable appetite for a glorious life we can never attain is a manifestation that we lose focus.


It is time that the political landscape changes. The political landscape should be the driving force encouraging us to work more than just waiting to receive. The political landscape should be inspiring us to take agriculture seriously, to be patriotic, and to be ashamed of being perennial beggars for budgetary support and food. It is time the political landscape tells us frankly that we will live by our resources and that we have to be ready to sweat more, to toil more, to cry more for the creation of a wonderful future. No matter how long it may take us, we can achieve if only we take the sacrifice.

What should be our aim now? Winston Churchill said once again: ‘you ask what is our aim? I can answer in one word: it is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be: for without victory there is no survival.’

It appears that we are resigned to failure, that in our thinking we no more go forward in the hope of victory. Our language testifies, we only glorify failures than successes. But if we decide to wage a gallant and winnable war against poverty we can make it. The only thing that stands in between us and victory is the limitations we put on ourselves.

Now is the time that we no longer walk on the path of mediocrity. Now is the time that we have to refuse to act according to the book, we have to write the book of our own life, our own struggle in fighting poverty in the context of our beliefs. Let us face the prospect of surviving failure after failure but not change our belief in our self. Now is the time we move forward, we push to the edge, and live our dreams. We are the architects of the future we want. We are the ones we have been waiting for.

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