Malawians, especially those on social media have expressed their disapproval of the statue of former president Bingu wa Mutharika. There seems to be a consensus that the statue erected at Parliament Building in Lilongwe, has missed some unique physical features of the late Bingu.
It is because of this that many are saying the statue is not a true reflection of the Bingu they know. Others have even suggested that the statue has to be reworked.
The South African sculptor Jean Doyle has stood her ground that what she has presented to the Mutharika family and Malawians is the true reflection of Bingu, according to the photographs she was given. She has defended herself that the work was constantly supervised by both Malawi Government officials and Bingu’s family members—and they are satisfied with the work.
I agree with those who have expressed discontent with the artwork and I wish the statue had at least come as close to the real Bingu as possible. But then, again, I do take cognizance of the fact that this is just a statue, it’s not a photograph. It cannot 100 percent capture every physical feature as perfectly as possible. There is always going to be some sort of hit-and-miss in such kind of artwork.
I am also wary that it seems most Malawians are fixated on how abhorrent the statue looks and not really asking all the important questions about this statue.
The crafting of this statue has all along been one of the top secrets of the DPP-led government inner circle. By the time Malawians got wind that there shall be a statue for the former president and it is being crafted in South Africa, the work was already at an advance stage. Government officials have been sneaking out to South Africa to supervise the work. One wonders why such clandestine activities?
The media has reported on the issue a number of times, and each time it sought reaction from government officials they either were non-committal or denied completely about the existence of a statue of Bingu wa Mutharika.
Then there is the issue of the money spent on the statue. What about the place where it is erected? Does anybody in government care to explain why they chose that place?
All the secrecy surrounding this statue is reminiscent of Bingu’s death. To this day, Malawians are not sure about the exact date he died. It was the incumbent president Peter Mutharika and others who also sneaked Bingu’s body to South Africa. Everything then was shrouded in secrecy, just like this statue.
The unveiling ceremony on Friday was not a public event, but a DPP event. These and many others ought to be questions that Malawians should be asking about the statue.
By fixating on inconsequential issues, the more important issues are not given the attention they deserve. One would be forgiven for thinking that this statue is a DPP election campaign strategy.
Malawians, when such things happen, let us go beyond what is seen and what you are told; question the unseen and do not easily believe what you are told, rather ask the tough and important questions to get the real story behind what is physically seen.