Some few years ago, we had a single radio station. Just like any curious kid, I did listen to most of the programming that is now history. Interestingly, MBC run a programme named “Tikuyankhani”, literally a question and answer session. I am not sure which day it was aired but I used to listen to all sorts of questions that various listeners across the country raised through their letters. That time, we had so much faith in the Malawi Post Office with its MPS abbreviation.
But what struck me most on one of the nights, was a question about dreams. A certain person wanted to know whether a blind person can have dreams just like those with normal vision. Interestingly, the response was candid and very thoughtful. That dreams need no physical correctness of visual senses, but are more in thought. Quite interesting and the little brain, that I was, then under the mighty teens of age, learnt something. I often bragged about it, but it had more to do with our wooden box with some transistors called a radio.
A few years ago, some dream, and if you like it, call it a nationalistic sentimental song was a thing of any street. Don’t mind the street names, but “best buy Malawian” was a common inscription on anything friendly to some ink of some thought. How long it lasted, no one knows but eggs and vegetables from Zimbabwe kept coming. It faced a natural death but we have kept it through fights in banning imports of stuffs considered available locally.
So the cycle went on, to some extent extra cyclical or complementary. While the tale of magawagawa, with our in-built ‘God-fearing accolade”, a Health For All By 2000 was a dream across town. Meanwhile, HIV and Aids was silently pounding us and costing us lives of very productive citizens. We still stuck to the silence that it was a carpet disease (matenda a pa mphasa), courtesy of an extra honourable intelligent brain. Years later, we have to refund ex-colonisers and their surrogate organisations of funds meant to help us deal with a disease that derailed our health at the dawn of a millennium. No need to freak out. Dreams can go wrong, and unless one has a control over them, unpleasant situations are too vivid to recur, despite the unpredictability.
It is for this reason that we can take the path towards a completely new dream. Just as we dream of an HIV and Aids free generation, we can as well think about a corrupt free generation. Less corrupt countries do have various similarities despite the geography between them. A new generation of young people devoid of corrupt habits can become a new engine of growth through honest and transparent lifestyles. They surely can be the next corporate managers and take over some of the toughest institutions critical to reducing the cost of doing business in this country.
You need to ask that guy who wants to have his/her passport renewed or process an employment permit for skilled staff of new business. The line can go on to tax authorities and the lags that exist to have refunds on specific taxes. It all starts from the household on values taught to children, of honesty and hard-work, but those that are lost along the way to the extent that Malawi ranks high on the corruption index. I do not think prosperity theology of the street prophets will save a country from wanton abuse and an insatiable thirst for unwarranted dues.
I think we can dream of a corrupt free generation which has to run a business without paying a bribe. That society that has strong institutions to stop the vice as opposed to cheap, yet rhetorical services funded by the taxpayer. Maybe, a corrupt free society is a new dream in town. Who knows? We need a start somewhere or strengthen the blurred steps we took in 1994.