The First Lady Gertrude Mutharika must be commended for her devotion to the aesthetic improvement of Malawi’s environment. We now see some flowers where there used to be nothing but eyesores. However, the Beautify Malawi (Beam) campaign is like what Jesus Christ called washing the external part of a cup while the inside remains dirty.
Often when we read of rampant crimes and corruption in countries like Kenya and Nigeria, we thought we were holier than the people there. Now it is clear we were deceiving ourselves. Malawi is a country with Sodom-like corruption of morals. The poverty which hovers above us owes a good deal to the fact that we clean our exterior and ignore the interior.
Three hundred years before Christ, a Greek philosopher lit a lamp at noon and walked in the streets and markets of Athens. When people asked him what he was searching for, he said he was searching for an honest person. By the end of the day, he confessed he had not found even one who was honest.
When Abraham learned that God was going to destroy Sodom because of its sins, he implored the creator to restrain Himself and not destroy the city. God admonished Abraham to go to the sinful city and find at least 10 righteous people. Abraham failed to find at least 10 good people and God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Evil conduct is not confined to one segment of society in Malawi. It is pervasive. What should we do to make sure that our society does not decay beyond redemption? We must try to shield the youth from egregious influences of those who made the country a stinker. Let us expose the youth to morally correct reading materials which show the right way to acquire wealth and the risks of trying to become opulent by hook or crook.
We talk of Malawian people as deficient in reading culture, but what sort of books do we have that we want the youth to read?
We must desist from stocking our libraries with trash of books that offer no sense of direction. Exactly what type of books do I have in mind that the youth should read if they are to grow up into good citizens?
A boy aged nearly 20 in the US went into an insurance business with a capital of $100. Afterwards, he became a millionaire and authored a motivational book titled The System that Never Fails. In one chapter he writes about how he has developed the character that made him successful in life.
He says: “But I will never forget the first day I went upstairs to the attic. There I met Horatio Alger. At least 50 of his books, dusty and weather-worn, were piled in the corner. I took one down to the hammock in the front yard and started to read it. I read through all of them that summer.
“The theme in each: from rags to riches. The principle in each: the hero a success because he was a man of character and the villain was a failure because he deceived and embezzled.
“How many Alger books were sold? No one knows. Estimates range from 100 million to three million. We do know that his book inspired thousands of American boys from poor families to strive to do the right thing because it was right and to acquire wealth.”
Will someone a publisher, a bookseller or a librarian bring some copies of Horatio Alger’s book here. Let us get them stocked in libraries throughout the country.
We are advising school leavers and college students to venture into business whenever they do not readily find a job, but do we tell them the ethics of business life?
In psychology, it is noted that a young person who mixes with evil peers becomes an evil doer. Similarly, those who read immoral books tend to become immoral themselves. Let us expose our young citizens to books that can purify their morals.
Not all will become upright by reading Horatio Alger, but the aim is to convert at least 10 percent of them as God prescribed for the forgiveness of Sodom and Gomorrah. With the ten percent of righteous and well-motivated young Malawians, the country could be purified.