It is 10am in Limbe. People are walking to and from all directions. Thinking deeply about these people, you realise that all of them have dreams. Yes, they dream of something better than the status quo.
Some of them want to go higher with their education so that they can increase their value in society and life. Others want to expand their horizon in the entrepreneurship world having realised that this is the major weapon to defeat unemployment not only in Malawi but across the globe.
If these dreams and others come true, the winners will not only be the dreamers but also the entire nation. It is the wish of every Malawian to see the country prospering and moving out of poverty which has engulfed majority of Malawians. Recently, the United Nations (UN) said although Malawi is a peaceful country, it continues to be part of 20 low human development countries in the world. The 2016 Human Development Report’s index has ranked Malawi 170 out of 188 UN-recognised countries and territories. The Human Development Index is a summary measure for assessing progress in three basic dimensions of human development such as a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living.
Furthermore, a report titled Extreme Poverty Set to Rise across Southern Africa by the Institute of Security Studies (ISS) says the number of people living in extreme poverty in southern Africa will worsen by 2040, where the majority 45 percent will be concentrated in Malawi and Madagascar. The report says economic growth in southern Africa is not expected to trickle down to the most vulnerable members of society and the region is not expected to register economic growth that is high enough for its rapidly growing population.
As if this is not enough, a 2015 study by Oxfam titled A dangerous Divide: The State of Inequality in Malawi revealed that an estimated 9.5 million people in the country will live in poverty by 2020 up from eight million people in 2015.
It is sad that Malawi’s poverty rate has been worsening in the past three years, captured at almost 70 percent as of 2016, as the World Bank reports in its recent bi-annual Malawi Economic Monitor publication.
As if that is not painful enough to make Malawians feel sorry for themselves, Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) released in January this year said corruption has worsened in the country since 2012. The index shows that the country has moved up eight places from position 112 in 2015 to 120 in 2016. The CPI indicates that on a score of 0-100, zero being highly corrupt, Malawi scored 31, which is within the red zone of the CPI between zero and 39. The worrisome thing is that the increasing rank has the potential to keep away potential investors who use the CPI to estimate the level of risks for business investments in the country.
These reports sound sour and bad. Not so? But for the dreamers, this is a stimulant or an energiser to dream for better life and work hard in whatever they do. A smallholder farmer should dream of having a commercial farm. A carpenter should dream of opening a furniture shop in town. A primary school teacher should dream of launching his or her own school.
Although youths are in majority, it is unfortunate that many of them are afraid of dreaming in colour. They are afraid to achieve what their parents did not achieve. They are afraid to go where their parents did not go. They are afraid of scoring higher grades because nobody else in their village did that before. In other words, they are ‘happy’ with the status quo. They are even discouraged when they hear bad reports about poverty in their country.
But a living person should always dream for better life. Through his book titled Think and Grow Rich, self-help author Napoleon Hill said a desire or dream is a starting point of any achievement on Earth.
“The starting point of all achievements is desire. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desires bring weak results, just as a small amount of fire makes a small amount of heat. If you find yourself lacking in persistence, this weakness may be remedied by building a stronger fire under your desires,” said Hill.
Sometimes people limit themselves because of their age. Young ones say they cannot aim high because they are still young while the older people say they cannot pursue their dreams because it is too late; they are old. But age should not even limit Malawians from achieving their goals. Veteran musician Giddes Chalamanda dreamt of setting his feet in United States of America (USA) someday. He expressed this dream through his song ‘Buffalo Soldier’ which was composed and recorded in 1974. In the song, he said he wished to go to America if he had enough money. Chalamanda realised this dream in 2016. This teaches us that the road to success sometimes needs patience combined by hard work.
“No matter how long it takes, you will achieve your dreams if you stay focused and work hard. When I composed and recorded the song [‘Buffalo Soldier’], I did not know that the dream will be fulfilled this year . But look now, it has come to pass. This is the power of dream,” said Chalamanda on 29 July 2016 at Chileka International Airport in Blantyre before departure for the USA. He waited for more than 50 years for this dream to come to pass. Hill wrote that whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.
As long as one dreams in colour and works hard, they can achieve anything.
“Anybody can wish for riches, and most people do, but only a few know that a definite plan, plus a burning desire for wealth, are the only dependable means of accumulating wealth,” he wrote.
This should also apply to national development.
The UN report says if nothing is done, 9.5 million people will be living in poverty by 2020 despite the HDI value increase of 46.4 percent between 1990 and 2015. There is need, therefore, for Malawians to not only dream for better lives but also to work hard every day. Every long voyage starts with a single step. It is not too late to start working hard for the sake of the nation. Politically, Malawians look up to the leaders at central government level to end citizens’ poverty. However, the only thing the leaders can do is to put policies that create a conducive environment for various income-generating activities. The citizens still remain with a responsibility to work hard. There is no sweet without sweat and no gains without pains.
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Goodal Gondwe is quoted as saying the country would only move not because of what government is supposed to do but what each Malawian does in ensuring that no one is left behind.
“The government is not there to give you more to eat but it is there to supplement what you are doing to move forward,” he was quoted in The Daily Times of April 14, 2017.
Malawi has great potential to prosper if she ceases all the emerging opportunities. The Malawi Investment and Trade Centre recently said there is a huge foreign market but are failing to meet the demand due to low production capacity. This does not mean Malawians are not dreaming. They do but maybe there is need to combine the dreams with a hard-working spirit. Malawians should dream and believe that it is possible for the country to be an exporting country. The exports should be higher than imports.
A vibrant writer who gives a great insight on hot topics and issues