Mock our misery


Look pon di gully side Do you see anything fi smile bout Look at that hungry child Do you see anything fi smile bout Look at the school weh deh youth dem go fi get dem education

Do you see anything fi smile bout Look at the conditions of our police stations

Do you see anything fi smile bout Same time the bredda say


How can a nation believe in this way

And the next thing him say How can  the government play so many games?

—Morgan Heritage—


Four years ago during the academic freedom struggle, my former teacher openly sided with government’s idea to fire all lecturers who were boycotting classes. His argument, I remember, was that there was nothing wrong with the police chief summoning a university lecturer who was thought to have been planting revolutionary ideas in impressionable young minds at a time when the Arab World was experiencing a wave of revolut ions that toppled a number of governments. It was a matter of security, he argued.

When government suddenly changed two years ago, this ex teacher of mine became an overnight critic of Joyce Banda’s government. He simply saw nothing good about and from it. His fierce and sharp criticism was all over the place such that I was left confused were his once-upon-a-time professed patriotism had gone.

Recently, I am told he has taken another turn and is now a politically born again critic who believes government is now at the top of its game. These days, he believes, whoever points at government’s wrongs has congenital cynicism and must be expended from the nation’s grand plan to reformation.

What, however, I have come to conclude is that people’s patriotism is seasonal: It comes when a party they openly or secretly support is in government and goes to bed when another party they don’t like comes in.

When people were having that shindig at Kamuzu Stadium and later at State House on Monday, July 6, I was left to wonder what exactly people were celebrating for. Perhaps, I can be convinced if one tells me that entire circus was a celebration that, at least, we have a flag and a national anthem we can call ours.

That day could not have fallen at a more awkward time than when civil servants were and are still not even sure when or whether they will receive their salaries. Even when you looked at the stands, most of what you could see were screw-faces of people burdened by perennial privation.

The ironic, hurtful and mind boggling thing is how the government, in its shockingly s h allow reasoning, could blow over K300 million for a party in the name of Independence Day celebrations when it is even failing to fund essential sectors like health and education let alone paying its civil servants.

Just yesterday, there was in the paper a depressing story about the crisis at Chiradzulu Hospital where staff have gone three weeks without reporting for duty because the hospital is too broke to even buy fuel to transport its staff.

Earlier in the week, the Livingstonia Synod got tired with government’s failure to provide grants to run the synod’s special needs learning institutions. What we are told is that the government has been playing hide and seek when it comes to fulfilling its obligation. Maybe we should think state coffers have run dry. But then, just this week, government showed that it is liquid and has enough to throw parties.

In fact, the July 6 party was not the only one. This government seems to have a curious love for parties because, after passing the national budget recently, there was another party organised to celebrate the passing of the budget.

If you have a government that is quick and willing to throw parties at any given chance even when people are having a dress rehearsal of hell is something we must all be very afraid of.

And then you notice ruling party officials carrying themselves with legendary uppity as i f things are alright. This week, they even unabashedly erected their blue flags juxtaposed with the national flag when we all know that was a national not party event. Maybe it has not sunk in some people that they are in government and would want to constantly remind us. But to some of us who get irritated with party colours— which ever they are—found that idea ridiculous. Anyway maybe that is trivia and we should not fuss about it.

Next year we will be 52 and still under the same government. And we can be assured that all we will have are speeches about some imaginary achievements, more banquets and circuses.

If I am living in a country where even the police can’t protect themselves, where the majority do not have an idea where the next meal will come from, where hospitals operate as waiting bays for death and a country that does not give hope of any movement, I would refuse to attend parties whose only significance is to mock our misery.

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