Take down some free world obsession and the trek leads into some modern world environment obsession. It goes with tales of a closed society in its hunt gathering blindness but annoyingly losing its modern day eco-tourism, an obsession of old school, know it all bureaucracy. You may not like this but honestly Malawi is some environmental beauty, albeit conserved by its strange version of conservatism. But ahead of its virgin innocence lies some beauty and, unfortunately great environmental costs.
Without alarming anyone, I must say, some teenage obsession seems to boggle my mind. No regrets and enjoying any dollar of the taxpayer, a decade and half ago, I took some memorable trip into something Chikangawa Forest. As a teenager, obsessed with science, I got a Mr Chamba, man in-charge of the entire Chikangawa Forest then, some simple conservation questions. Sometimes you wonder why bureaucracy has a stinking jab of a tick.
A few years later, courtesy of alleged democracy, old school ground to a halt. An International Monetary Fund (IMF) obsession became a norm and very much appears to live with us, despite its limited teeth. That time, in 1993-94, the Forestry Department was all over the country employing temporary staff to secure the greens of our beautiful country.
We seem to have made numerous steps and one can simply count the steps, costly to our environment. The obsession with the IMF minded, but neo-economic empty know it all, alleged thought of freedom came with many costs. Retrenchments of temporary forestry, but critical staff to the Forestry Department became norm. We may have got too excited out of the ignorant ride but it takes a perfectly good track down the memory line.
One major result out of our sluggish but later day diffusion of liberal market reforms is privatisation. We have gone blindly to sell an entire Viphya Plantation to foreign investors that consider economic interests well beyond the border of the country. Protectionism, while pleasing to nationalistic sentiments even avoided on comparative advantage rule, must be secured to indigenous investors. Malawians have trained in carpentry and building and, at this stage, require no one to prune or bush their pine on doing the same.
It is now a fact that the Chikangawa Forest Concession deal just like the Kayelekera Mine deal, and its holy investors, remain scarlet illustrations of unqualified environment damage to this country. It is time to realise that Malawi will never develop by mining its soils or cutting/exporting its timber. Sometimes when people such as Kamuzu Chibambo make some statements on deals involving our natural resources, it very much resonates with economic independence, often blurred by foreign investors, that of late seem to be astronomically investing in crocked public relations to fool average Malawians and their natural resources. We have to be very careful and take these men of colour with a pinch of salt. They were brains behind slave trade now turned economic colonialism, but our natural resource ownership remains non-negotiable.