This week we are at Kamwendo in the republic of Mchinji. Our objective this time is to find out what the names of Malawi’s areas mean. Someone, Paramount Chief Lundu we believe, once concurred with our beloved late only Life President (ka)Ngwazi Bingu wa Mutharika at a political rally that the name Chikwawa in the Lower Shire States was derived from Chikhwaw—a large gorge or gully. There and then the name of the district changed from Chikwawa to Chikhwawa although the autochthons still refer to their district as Chikwawa.
However, we have since wondered why Lilongwe and Rumphi also have areas called Chikwawa where there are neither gorges nor gullies. Actually, in Lilongwe and Rumphi Chikwawa is located in very fertile valleys. Could Chikwawa mean fertile valley? And in what language? ChiMaravi? In Chichewa, Chikhwawa is a large gully or gorge but, in both Chichewa and Chitumbuka , it may mean something different, the closest being crawling.
In preparation for this gigantic federal assignment, yesterday we walked around Kamwendo Township to “window-shop” for batteries for our voice recorders. In the market, we were attracted to a music stall. When the music vendor saw us approaching he pumped up the volume of his CD player. We listened in silence for 10 long minutes as the musician, John Lloyd Phiri outlined why Malawi should go federal.
Please don’t change your minds
Don’t be too weak to fight
Let’s join our hands together
None other than federal system
The pillar for balanced development
For peace, freedom and justice
Creative, competitive and progressive
For all, a better Malawi x 2
The federal system of government doesn’t necessarily mean
Dividing the nation [of] Malawi
Or bringing in neither regionalism nor tribalism as some other people might interpret it
But to empower regions
To create a more competitive attitude towards development in all sectors
[To] Empower our regions so that through their revenues, [they] can achieve their goals
Most parts of our regions are undeveloped
And they face a lot of challenges
Such as shortages of hospitals, ambulances, doctors, nurses, drugs,
Improved roads, schools, both primary and secondary, universities, colleges, companies and industries in spite of their necessities
Nevertheless, one would wonder and ask:
Where do the benefits go?
We have game reserves, mountains, lakes, rivers for irrigation,
Plantation forests, mines, sugar plantations, and tea plantations
We do grow tobacco, maize, groundnuts, etc
And we have attractive places for tourism
These are the main economic activities that generate resources
Fifty-two years since we got independence have now gone
But we are still relying on the sympathy of donors
We have failed to rely on own
The gap between the rich and poor is still widening
Corruption, unemployment, health, education, insecurity, hunger and poverty
Contract system on tobacco has affected our economy and farm growers
Land Reforms Bill, lack of access to information law
and selfishness of our leaders are some of the challenges
Don’t forget that all animals are equal in spite of others being more equal and clever
But life could be cruel sometimes
The president of the nation is one
And is elected by a majority of the electorate through direct, universal and equal suffrage
He is the chief administrator and the head of the state of the republic
He reports to the nation all the measures taken and progress achieved
In the realisation of the nation’s values
Members of Parliament are constituency representatives
However, in the federal system, a governor is chosen to represent a region
And is the coordinator from the region to the central government
A mini Parliament assembly is established in the region where members of Parliament
debate development issues, economic issues, and social activities amongst others
There is also a house of senate, and is proportionally representative of various groups,
Which receives and amends bills from the national assembly
The governor then refers them to the central government
For the president to assess and approve
What does the nation achieve?
Balance of leadership, freedom and rights, gender equality, competitive economic activities and balance of development
Nevertheless, countries like South Africa, Nigeria, Canada, Germany and America just to mention but a few have benefitted from this system of government
Time has definitely come for Malawi to wake up from the darkness of its [piecemeal]
Where the truth is deliberately concealed
I, therefore, appeall to the clergy, church, Non-governmental organisations, politicians, musicians, chiefs, the youth and concerned citizens to stand up and welcome this system of government
For a better Malawi!
[Chorus to fade….]
“What’s the name of the album?” I asked.
“Wake Up Africa,” the music vendor said.
“This is the first time I have heard someone support federalism with reasons,” Jean-Philippe remarked.
“We, of the Chilima Transformation and Odya Zake Movements totally agree with John Lloyd Phiri and will ensure Malawi becomes a federal nation to encourage competition among the regions!” said Abiti Joyce Befu, MG 66 and MEGA-1.
“Kkkkkiest!” Nganga Maigwaigwa and Mzee Mandela laughed in unison.