Some individuals deserve direct assistance from donors


Donors who want to support a country’s cultural and scientific programme have a policy of channelling their funds through a government agency or a private syndicate not a lone struggler.

Take for example the young man in Kasungu William Kamkwamba who harnessed the wind and another young man called Corled Nkosi of Mzimba who developed a hydroelectric power plant from scrap metal to supply free electricity would it not be a fine idea to give support to persons, young or not so young who are engaged in projects that could benefit communities. Indeed in an interview Nkosi said “I sincerely thank the British High Commissioner for the recognition I would like to see the Heads of state meeting discuss how to support talented youths with resources to ensure they achieve their goals.

This is the gist of my article. The decision to recommend Nkosi for the Queen Elizabeth II Commonwealth Point of light award is part of what I am thinking about.


Another example is what an ambassador of one of the greatest countries in the world did for me recently. All of a sudden in and his deputy called at my office. He said he had been impressed with my columns in the press which seem to be supported with reading. He then presented me with a pile of books. I am already engrossed withreading one of them about the world after the financial meltdown of the year 2008 I am very grateful for the donation. What else can you expect from a bookworm.

Usually donors have presented their books to libraries of universities assuming that only in universities would scholars appreciate such gifts.

But some people who left universities long ago are regularly, from private funds, ample or otherwise, building up personal libraries so as to continue learning. Access to University or national libraries is subject to the rules of those institution for people writing or engaged in business personal libraries at home are more convenient. At any time of the day or night they can pull out a reference book and continue writing.


A struggler who needs funds to publish a book or finish the research he has been more than half through faces rebuffs when he approaches a donor. He is told assistance is government to government or else to a syndicate.

It is no exaggeration that funds channelled through a government may be used to reward those politically useful, nepotism is regarded as a moral duty in Malawi to help one of your relatives whether with public, donor or personal money.

Funds allocated to a syndicate may be disbursed not quite in a way to benefit a specific project. Part of the funds may be used to hire a hall in which to hold a meeting, pay allowances to attendees with a special sum for someone nominated to deliver a key address or to talk on something he is deemed an expert. It would be worth plenty of gratitude if those who want to assist established special funds to which those with a worthy project would apply. It would be entirely up to the donor to assess the project and decide.

It is usual to read these days that research and development is a group activity not a lone enterprise. In the past both pure and applied science were done by lone individual. While Isaac Newton developed his gravity theory working as a lecturer in Cambridge University, Farady and Einstein were at first not attached to universities. Great inventors like the Wright brothers, Marconi not to mention Thomas Edison worked privately.

Some great works in fiction and nonfiction writing were achieved without collaboration with other people. However they did cost a good deal. I have in mind Tolstoy war and Peace Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the wind in fiction Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations Gibbons Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire or Rousseau’s The Social Contract.

In the history of art, literature and exploration we read of wealthy persons patronizing talented but poor persons. This was the case during the Talian Renaissance. When Dr. Samuel Johnson started writing the first English dictionary he appealed to a wealthy peer for assistance but was rebuffed. Never the less the point is that there were wealthy people who used to assist those with talent but without money.

Prince Henry of Portugal funded voyages of discovery to Africa and Asia. Without him we would not have heard of Bartholomew Diaz or Vasco Da Gama. The end product of that assistance to brave individuals was a big Portuguese empire. Similarly Columbus had an idea he could reach the east by sailing west. The King and Queen of Spain listened to his proposal funded his project. Spain reaped an empire in the American. Had Columbus been sponsored by his fellow Italian, the empire would have belonged to Italy.

In Malawi the spirit in wealthy people of supporting individuals with worthy projects is not fully developed. But we need it.

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