The spirit of hard work has over the years deteriorated in Malawi and continues to do so. Slowly but surely, we are becoming a country of lazy people-too lazy to obey laws, and even too lazy to wait for your turn at the traffic light. Integrity has also been eroded. People get bribes to do their own jobs.
Whereas in the past people in villages could mobilise themselves to clear bushes, clean markets and rehabilitate earth roads, the same cannot happen today without asking for allowances. People are paid to construct their own pit-latrines. This is what we have become.
At the top level, individualism has thrived over the spirit of collectivism as personal interests surmount the national interests. There is no sense of patriotism. Very few people are prepared to die a little for this country in the various positions that we occupy. Do we want change? Everybody raises their hand. Who wants to change? No one raises their hand.
President Peter Mutharika has always called for patriotism, hard work and integrity if Malawi is to develop. The President has a valid point. These three pillars (patriotism, hard work and integrity) should start from our families, classrooms, political platforms, religious gatherings all the way to our workplaces.
Cashgate is a classic example of people who lacked patriotism, integrity and a hard working spirit. A patriot loves their country and puts the interests of the nation first, above tribal, political or religious interests. A patriot will always safeguard national pride-respect the people of the nation, its culture, the leadership, national policies, the national institutions and the democratic ideals such as liberty and justice.
Imagine how much money would have been saved if public property were to be properly looked after. Water pipes and electricity cables, to mention but a few, have been vandalised by people from within our vicinity.
Service delivery in public institutions would have also tremendously improved because a patriot would police the delivery process, demand the highest standards and accept nothing but the best for and from people.
Thus, the President is right; there is a need to uphold the notion of patriotism, integrity, and hard work. Hard work is remarkably paramount. The Chinese stand today as an economic giant because of their extreme hair-raising and belief defying hard working spirit.
This is something we can emulate if we want to change our mindset. The same Malawians become hard workers when they are in America, UK or South Africa, but in our own country we do what others call ‘805’ which means (8) reporting for work at 8am, (0) doing nothing, and (5) knock off at 5pm. This signifies lack of a ‘killer drive’ when it comes to business. The road to greatness and attainment of economic prosperity will not be that steep if we change our mindset and accept that we are the change we have always wanted to see.
As we all uphold the ideals of patriotism, integrity, and hard work; Malawi as a God-fearing nation, should use all its channels to instill discipline in its citizenry. Discipline is not just adhering to rules and regulations. Discipline does not invite supervision by an external force, but it is imposed by the individual from within.
Chinua Achebe noted that discipline is either self-discipline or it is nothing at all. And if this is quite understandable by every citizen that they should do right things at the right time, at the right place and in the right manner they will be able to supervise their own behaviour and the behaviour of their immediate neighbours.
When all is crossed and dotted, transformation is a process that requires disciplined people, thought and action. We need to love one another; love our country; forget our political affiliations, stop thinking politics or the next election; support developmental agenda; work extra hard; believe in ourselves and avoid Aids (Acquired Income Dependency Syndrome); stop living a lie, live within your means; follow strict self-discipline; and be the change that you want to see. Otherwise, Fulton Oursler was right when he said: “Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves-regret for the past and fear of the future”.