In the week leading up to the celebrations marking 53 years since the start of self-rule, there is a lot that Malawians ought to be celebrating which does not include reminiscing about days gone by but the status of the country at this particular moment.
There is a rude but very appropriate cartoon depiction of the country as a poverty-stricken person that is struggling to recover from devastating effects of a civil war and a long period of drought. It describes perfectly some aspects of the Warm Heart.
So what is there to celebrate?
On this day, let us celebrate a health care system that is still in the dark ages, where citizens die not just from lack of drugs but for lack of equipment that would detect conditions on time. Malawians should be celebrating the free health care that makes it acceptable for a chief executive officer to seek medical assistance from a central hospital free of charge.
Sure, studies such as the Malawi Demographic Health Survey (MDHS) tell us less children are dying before reaching age five, more women are living after giving birth but to what? To become beggars of government alms in the form of subsidies, for the children to drop out of school only for the cycle of poverty and begging to continue.
About 53 years after independence from Britain, let us celebrate an education system that we can tolerate that a national team football player does not speak a second language; an education system that continues to churn out graduates who seem to have majored in theft and corruption but make little impact on the lives of those who did not have privilege of walking the corridors of a public university.
How, after 53 years of independence do parents and guardians believe it is acceptable to send children to school with no food and expect the government to feed their offspring?
Malawians can celebrate the countless number of political parties with no zero to little ideologies, four of which are active and five others only appear at quarter to elections with the express intention of filling up the ballot paper to the consternation of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC).
Five decades after attaining independence, let us celebrate a shambolic public transport system which is deaf to tax incentives and continues to enrich the few at the expense of loss of lives to those who cannot afford to fly or even board a semblance of a comfortable bus on their travels.
Why, after 53 years is Malawi still in the dark ages when it comes to public transport? Why have there been no tangible investments in the rail system? The answer is pure greed not necessarily liberalisation of the public transport system.
If the country was to have a rail system that caters to all regardless of the size of their pockets or load of their goods, but where would the truck business go? Where would the revenue officials get the funds to build obscene houses and drive cars that even executives of top companies in the world would not dare drive?
The government continues to subsidise the agricultural production to individuals who come begging after every harvest instead of commercial farmers with the capacity to feed the multitudes that can afford to buy maize but have no capacity to grow enough to feed themselves all year round.
Subsidies have become another way of keeping the poor indebted and grateful to the government of the day, a cheap but expensive method of buying votes during elections.
Is it any wonder that the 53 year old child has an economy that is at the mercy of institutions that have no idea what it is like to sleep on an empty stomach or die of an illness that was easy to detect?
Papers and blueprints have been written forecasting achievements in 20 years and even 50 years, but they remain just that: pieces of paper gathering dust at Capital Hill. n