I am no animal enthusiast, but I must confess my obsession with the lion, particularly the male version. Its physical attributes as much as the infinitely complex figurative meanings of ‘the lion image’ to humans kicks in me a perfect fascination.
Such is the magic of the Leo-factor that historically cultures have drawn from the lion different meanings, influences and associations. The English for example, have associated the lion with nobility, honour, courage and with royalty in matters leadership.
Numerous Flags and Standards globally sport lion images, an emblem of majesty and sovereign authority. Over the centuries an enduring figurative narrative has evolved around the person of the lion as the ultimate embodiment of strength, power and dominion.
In her time for example Queen Elizabeth I advised her subjects: ‘fear not; we are of the nature of the lion and cannot descend to the destruction of mice and such small beats’. And it applies to individuals too.
In the words of Vernon Howard a truly strong person does not need the approval of others any more than a lion needs the approval of sheep. In military terms, Alexander the Great says, no one fears an army of lions led by a sheep; rather one fears an army of sheep led by a lion.
And Napoleon Bonaparte a valiant fighter himself admitted: “I am sometimes a fox and sometimes a lion; the whole business of government is in knowing when to be the one or the other.”
I see a lot of this imagery around the lion figure applying to Malawians and the Malawi Nation, more so in this hour of her greatest need:
You see, a lion’s hours of work are most intense when he is hungry; he runs the fastest when empty and ready for a meal but once satisfied, the predator and prey live peacefully together.
As a nation, we are in the grips of real want – want of change in our management of public affairs; change in values to become more unitary, morally better shaped and committed to the advancement of our country.
Yet we remain sluggard, undecided and largely ineffective. The appetite for change is becoming quite suspect.
Even an injured lion – in pain and desperate – still wants to roar and be counted. Why do we seem to give up before seriously strategizing for development? Is it not strange that leaders create despondency rather than faith, hope and inspiration?
In his environment the lion never counts the herd around him nor does he weigh how many flocks he has to scatter, says Aaron Hill.
Malawians are lions. Flattered into false self-belief the Malawian is a lamb, but challenged or threatened, a deadly lion. We cannot continue to pretend all is well while encircled by failure, half-heartedness and works of iniquity that effectively sell Malawi to the dogs.
Take or leave it, Your Excellency have opportunities to turn Malawians into lions. I bid you be a lion yourself Mr President for I know the Leo-breed Malawian will respond as lion.
You may not see it, but a lion lurks in the heart of every Malawian, waiting to be awakened. But it takes skill to bring this lion to life. Malawians – even as lions inside-need stirring into action to change their near-dire situation.
From the lion we learn not only that her oars and mortifies, but that he moves every sinew in his body to get what he needs. We learn that like the stealthy wolf the lion succeeds in his exploits by working in tight packs.
Is it not common sense that when people work together towards a common goal, great things happen?
I bid let’s unite and protect Malawi. With one accord let’s prosper her according to her own dreams. Even the lion – the very king of the beats – protects itself from simple flies; yes, from ordinary harmless flies!
Malawi may be in deep trouble; but is it not the case that the crooked wood shows the best sculpture? Masai proverbial wisdom says, ‘he who is unable to dance says the yard is stony.’ And the Bible says the wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.
Bwana President, be yea bold and turn Malawians from overburdened camels to independent lions capable of dominion. Why expose ourselves to ridicule when hardly 20 years ago we were revered lions? We are still lions. What’s there to fail?
Mr President as a lion leader leading lion citizens become both bold and grounded. Create a commanding presence which Malawians must with pride follow. There are too many contradictions in the scheme of things. Why might the narrative be changing after so great promise?
Lions are animals of grace and majesty and yet of much determined courage too. Lions never tire nor do they bow down to anybody. Why bow down to deceitful egotistic opportunists who care less about Malawians and risk falling out with lion citizens?
Let’s take a detour to illustrate something:
It is during World War I and two German Generals are discussing the English. The one, General Erich Ludendorff, says ‘the English soldiers fight like lions’ and the other, General Max Hoffmann, responds ‘true, but don’t we know that they are lions led by donkeys?’
Malawians are lions; they have always been lions at home or abroad. Their leaders must be lions or be prepared to become one. There is no choice. Lion-leaders are what Malawians need moving forward. Not donkeys – let alone sheep – that bring people to destruction.
True to lion values, Malawians are intensely territorial in their love of Nation; they are uniquely patient, long-suffering, passionately strategic and infinitely calculating. This is as true today as was in 1964.
As we close: the lion only sleeps now. It is still very much alive, a-waiting re-awakening. Yes, Malawi is in deep hot water but not sinkable. Stimulate the sleeping lion to seek, find and uproot the cause of all the malaise.
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