Abiti Joyce Befu, the Most Paramount Native Authority Mandela, AlHajj Sheikh Jean-Philippe Le-Poisson and I, the Mohashoi, failed to go to Nkhata Bay and meet the district health officer (DHO) there to give him the two books we bought specifically for him because, as many now know, West Nyasa as Nkhata Bay used to be called when Mzimba was a small portion called Mombera, was inundated with water brought down there by flush floods in Mzuzu and other highlands.
As such, we have decided to summarise Andy Khumbanyiwa’s book, Poverty in a Land of Plenty and Donald Kamdonyo’s Poverty by Choice for all Malawians who sit phwii on opportunities and still cry for assistance. We are not sure if the two authors know each other, but their diagnosis of Malawi’s and Africa’s problems and potential is the same. They contend that we, Africans and particularly Malawians, are poor by choice in our land full milk and honey. We blame the weather for our food shortages when our lakes and rivers have fresh water that should have been used to irrigate farmland.
The style adopted by both authors is virtually the same, instructional and didactic, with Poverty by Choice relying more on case studies to drive the point home while Poverty in a Land of Plenty is prescriptive.
So, why are we poor in our land of plenty? It begins with planning. Khumbanyiwa says as nations we need long-term national and community strategies which all politicians and political parties elected to govern our countries should follow and implement with minor modifications where necessary. This resonates with what Lucius Banda proposes in his song, Way Forward.
Long term planning and thinking should also be espoused at the personal and family levels. If you get married this year, you should expect one or two children who will need school fees in 10 years. If you start saving for each child the month that child is born, that child will have enough money for his or her school fees. This then calls for a change in priorities.
In short, let’s start saving for ourselves and our children. Khumbanyiwa says this financial literacy education should be taught in school. The two authors suggest a number of savings avenues: investment in small businesses and real estate; conventional commercial banks for those who earn well; or microfinance institutions such as Saccos and village savings and loans schemes (VSLs), business top-up schemes and chipelegano. These are also a good source for business capital. Kamdonyo provokes us to turn our home junk, such as clothes we rarely use, into business capital.
We are also asked to reject the copycat mentality. Yeremiah has a minibus; therefore I must also own a minibus. Look around and see what is missing and start something new. That is what Kamdonyo shows through small scale entrepreneur cases histories.
Finally, both authors discuss the despicable self-pity mentality that pervades Malawian society and praise for mediocrity. The two authors speak strongly against accepting mediocrity since most Malawians behave like orphans. They seek pity and assistance even when they can help themselves.
For once, both authors urge, let’s shun the self-pity attitude and learn from what fellow Malawians have done to be where there without breaking a bank or a maize silo. For once, let’s stop castigating and condemning the likes of Prophet Shepherd Bushiri for being successful. For once, let’s break away from expecting others to provide everything for us, to think for us, to plan for us and to work for us. God is good and guides. But let’s forget about the “God-feeds-the-birds” teaching and remember that God wants us to work hard for our survival or perish. Let’s muster our brain and human capital for social change and wealth creation.
We have a resource-rich nation and continent, both authors remind us. Let’s make the most of what God endowed us with and be wealthy. Poverty is often cyclical. Except rarely, children inherit poverty from the poor parents. Break the vicious cycle. Read Poverty by Choice and Poverty in a Land of Plenty alongside Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad. For copies, contact Donald Kamdonyo (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Andy Khumbanyiwa (email@example.com).