The gods have a curious love for the daft, lazy and crooked.
Where I live, there is an old man, over 80 years old, who I have seen for three decades carrying a basket loaded with modest merchandise like cucumbers, pepper, cassava and tamarind— depending on the season. This man, I am told, was once a clerk at one of the established institutions before he decided to retire to start his small business. For decades, the old man, now frail and walking with a stoop, still moves around with his gondola.
The other day, while we were drowning our sorrows at the usual place, a friend made some funny remark on the old man to which the old man gave a stunning and cold response that I still remember now. “Madala mwakula, mukatsegule sukulu yophunzitsa ana ufiti.”(you are old and go start teaching children witchcraft”. Ndine ozindikila, zimenezo amapanga ndi mabulutu (I am too civilised, only the daft are in that business). After this cut response, I developed deep reverence for this old man such that I always buy at least a single item even when there is no need for it.
To me, this man is a personification of integrity, hard work honesty and civilisation. But, the irony is that, as I have said, the old man—who should have been home enjoying his last days—still burdens himself moving around to earn a living. He is the proverbial workhorse who will never rest or enjoy fruits of his labour until his imminent meeting with death.
The old man is just one of billions who have been cast away by the world for being too good. The world, strangely, is easier to live in when you are dishonest, a voyeur, a backbiter and a blatant liar.
Take, for instance, the predicament of vice president Saulos Chilima in the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Chilima, by all standards, is a smart and cultured man who never minces words. The other time, I happened to be in a meeting of the Reforms Committee and media managers. One thing Chilima did not hide is that as long as we have the same mindset, this country will remain in a state of arrested development. Chilima is not very much liked by people who only want to be told what they want to hear.
Last week, Chilima earned my respect when he questioned the substandard structure which some contractors are calling a dyke. From our Geography lessons, we learnt about dykes that are a common sight in the Netherlands. But what is in the Lower Shire, is some carelessly and speedily elevated anthill which loudly mocks the amount of money said to have been wasted—not spent—on it.
Not many will look a contractor in the eye and tell them they have messed up and given us a raw deal especially when it is government resources that have been abused. Right now we are singing all glory about substandard roads that are being built by the government while on the other hand we are singing praises for laying foundation stones. How petty.
Once upon a time, the eccentric and iconic former football star, Paolo DiCanio told FourFourTwo magazine that the world has a dislike of people who speak their mind. To the world, truth is mistaken for rudeness and uppity.
Malawi might have thieves running our affairs at Capital Hill but, if you ask me, two reasons this country has remained stagnant is that we do not tell each other the truth and we have unnecessary respect for mediocrity.
If you look around, those that are holding high positions are people that do not qualify an inch. But because they are clever and know how to lie their way through, they are easily trusted. We should not be surprised why we have remained backwards. Our choices are wrong.
The past months, the Malawi Congress Party has been warring over positions. Clearly, there has been one divide that has sympathised with the so-called rebels while the other has aligned itself to the conventional grouping.
Honestly, for people like me who have an aversion to politics and politicians, the MCP wrangles are a waste of time and venture of vanity. But there is a subtheme that we are missing: Those who challenge traditional setups easily fall out of grace.
But the good thing is, no matter how long it might take, the just will always be vindicated and time, the savage, knows exactly when to do it.
If at all this country is to make sense and glow on the globe, we need to be valiant people that are ready to say when things are wrong and challenge setups. Good and wise people always know the difference between truth and lies.