Mindset: What is wrong with Malawi?
We have become a complex society and complex people and by and large we are heading towards becoming a generation that believes in that money and the accumulation of it is all that we need. We are no longer respected on the basis of how we have developed the country, how we have helped orphans to get access to education, how we have fed the poor and disadvantaged; we are respected on the yardstick of the cars we drive or the jets we own.
Owning an Aston Martin car or a jet makes one highly respected and renowned and admired than any other person who is even investing in the education of orphans to create a better future for Malawians.
It is not amazing, therefore, that even in loss making corporate bodies leadership never ceases purchasing top of the range vehicles, never downscale the expensive schools they send their kids to, never relent on
reducing fuel allocations which are way too far beyond the monthly fuel requirements. It is all because we are intoxicated with the wine of materialism and we want to maintain a status symbol of being the elite regardless of how our appetite for money accumulation impoverishes many souls.
The cancer is that the most materialistic people are happy to trample on the economic sustainability of others. Unbelievably while they spend thousands in shopping malls buying things which they do not even need, they can hardly pay their baby-sitters and watchmen a good amount. To most of them, the combined salary of their baby-sitters and watchman, including the gardener, per month, is far too below what they spend on airtime per month. In their posh offices they keep on awarding themselves huge salary increments but yet never consider increasing salaries of people they have enslaved as their domestic workers.
Materialism is killing the country. The more materialistic you are becoming the more you want to look unique – the clothes have to be designer made, the shoes have to be renowned brands and hotels we sleep in outside the country have to be top drawer, befitting what we claim to be our status. We believe that we have to show people that we are an uncommon breed whose bodies deserve special clothes, whose feet can only be clad in designer shoes. But Mahatma Gandhi well said in a speech at Tanjore that “in my opinion there is no such thing as inherited or acquired superiority….I believe implicitly that all men are born equal”.
We seem to be forgetting that no one is high and no one is low. In the ‘History of Satyagraha Ashram’ it is well clarified that none is high and no one is low in the world. Therefore, he who thinks he belongs to a high class is never high-class, and he who believes to be low is merely a victim of ignorance. He has been taught by his masters that he is low.
It is our unquenchable thirst for more exotic things that is dredging the development of this country into the quicksand of poverty. Strangely, in our houses even chairs have to be imported, wall hangings imported, beds, beddings and everything has to be imported. While Mtal imanja Holdings Limited produces splendid tiles from bamboos that would make our houses look wonderful; we import shiploads of tiles from China. Even roofing is from China. The rich and powerful people of our country, the elite, have to have their houses roofed the Beijing style. There is nothing local that we posses in our houses. The situation is bad such that if a miracle is to happen that anything we have that has not been produced in the country disappears, many people will be found in houses that do not have roof, no wall hangings. They will even be found naked just because they do not even have a piece of cloth made in their own country.
Malawi must regain its identity. Let us be identified by how empathetic we are to our fellow Malawians. This country has the super rich, the elite and a majority of people that survive on bola moyo. Why is it that we can send our children to Kamuzu Academy, Bishop Mackenzie, St Andrews and the Central Highs of this country but humanity fails to compel us to buy even a school uniform for a poor pupil in Chikwawa or any other district who walks to school almost naked? More people are failing to access tertiary education as they are too poor to afford. We do not see it as a moral mandate to help them.
The question is, when all is done, when the Almighty God decides to call us to the grave, what legacy will we live behind? All the affluence will be nothing. It is appropriate to take cognizance of the fact that not many will remember everything you said but everyone will remember how you made them feel. If in our soul search we realize that we have only been materialistic but with no influence on the common man then our existence on earth has been a waste.
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