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Social Musings: Moving forward

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The New Year is finally here. 2015 has passed somberly for the Malawian folk. We need to move forward and make the necessary changes.

Reflecting on 2015

How many of us wake up in the morning and think “what can I do this day to make a change?”

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I would admit it is not every day I wake up and have that thought; it is only when I am intimately motivated by something that I wake up in such a state. What is painfully not surprising about this is we live in a society where this is “normal”.

A few of us wake up and have a clear cut plan for the day and an execution strategy. We wait for our superiors to tell us what to do when we get to work, for our parents to continuously give us guidance, for our spouse or partner to lead the way and for the government to “govern” us into progress.

Why was I not surprised some time ago when the World Bank said the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) was not making head way? And recommended that the contribution by farmers be pegged at 30 percent? I liked this move because from the introduction of the programme, I was of the idea that it would only propagate a deeper sense of dependency in farmers and Malawians in general.

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This notion only became stronger when I visited some rural areas on a research and heard about the decrease in production of farm produce because “the government was not consistent in delivering subsidised fertilizer and inputs” or because “there was deeprooted corruption in the subsidy programme”.

It was saddening to realise that people mostly waited around for the subsidy and were not pro-active in finding alternatives until it was too late.

The dependency syndrome

We Malawians have is sinking us deeper and deeper into the ocean of poverty and mediocrity.

When the xenophobia victims were repatriated into the country, the blame was shifted to government for the plight of the victims. It was said government should create jobs; it was deliberated that government should compensate the victims but sadly, there was not much said about how the ordinary person should make a change and a difference on their own.

It is understandable that progress of an individual depends to a certain extent on the environment they are in but it is also very true that what the mind can conceive, it can achieve.

When suggestions to introduce a fee to improve the services at our public hospitals came in, there was a wave of resistance witnessed through people’s general comments especially on social media.

But let us be frank, government has been running public hospitals using tax-payers’ money for years and the services keep going down. A large population of the country does not pay tax and yet this very large population is rapidly reproducing itself.

This is the population in the rural areas and in informal jobs like driving the numerous minibuses around town. The burden on the general tax-payer is growing and it is about time others chipped in to keep the boat rolling.

When we get to our residential areas, the sing-song of residents remains the same; the city council (only) is expected to do something about the condition of roads, waste management in our locations and the general environment.

How many times do we wake up and say I will do something about the road leading to my house? How many times do we consciously manage the waste we produce? We throw it out carelessly and wait around for someone else to magically make it disappear.

It is always expected that somebody or some figure of authority has to come in and do something about things that affect our day to day lives. I think what is important is to take the first moves and wait for support from government and authorities other than to fold our arms and expect action from elsewhere all the time.

Coming back to more recent events, imagine if we channelled some of the energy we are spending on ‘homophobia’ into something productive. During the last part of 2015, the citizenry invested so much into the debate on legalisation and decriminalisation of homosexuality and I was impressed to see that the Malawian folk can actually be that focused on issues that relate to the country.

However, I still wish this energy could also be reflected in the rest of burning development issues.

Moving forward

Tomorrow morning when you wake up ask yourself, what can I do to make a change? This should be the mentality adapted in 2016.

We need to move forward from ‘selective’ citizenship.
Happy New Year!
I rest my case.

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