The Honourable Dr George Chaponda, Leader of Government Business in the National Assembly is a soft spot for me. I have a lot of difficulties to write strongly against the Yale-trained lawyer. His wife, Dr Majorie Chaponda and I worked in the same institution for some time. I do not know whether she can remember me anymore, but I had and still have great respect for her. The second reason is the doctors’ very bright son, the medical doctor. The young Chaponda was my senior in medical school. A very bright doctor who is among the only five such graduates of the College of Medicine who graduated with a medical degree with honours.
You see, the medical school is a conservative place. If you have been at the graduation of the University of Malawi, people from other programmes do graduate with First Class degrees, degrees with credit or with distinction. In medicine, there is no credit and there is no distinction. Almost everyone graduates with a medical degree, basi.
This tradition, that the medical degree is unclassified, originates from the notion that it does not mean much to say this is a credit or a distinction medical degree. In sum, what I am saying is that just about any of the doctors you see, they are ordinary degree holders. Nothing to attach to it. Except, of course, Dr Chaponda’s son.
The first graduation of the College of Medicine was in 1992. Since that time all the doctors that have passed the corridors of that institution have graduated with an ordinary MBBS. No distinction, and no credit. Except, of course, five people, who include Moffat Nyirenda, Henry Mwandumba and Masautso (aka Mas) Chaponda (Dr George Chaponda’s son). Mas Chaponda graduated MBBS (Hons) from the University of Malawi, an honour which is reserved for mwene wa mwene, or paramounts of medical students. These are people whose academic performance exceeded what would normally be a distinction and the rule that the medical degree is unclassified must now be broken. People such as Mas are worshipped. If I had no religion, I would be worshipping and burning sacrifices to the medical god Mas Chaponda. He is exceptionally sharp, hence a member of the elite five from the College of Medicine. My reverence for Mas Chaponda makes it difficult for me to criticise the Hon George Chaponda.
This other day, the Hon Chaponda was caught in the hands of Morpheus (the Greek God of dreams). The lawyer has responded that the pictures showing him in REM sleep were all doctored. He argues that the pictures for opposition parliamentarians were also doctored to show them sleeping. The Hon Chaponda reminded us of his track record at the United Nations. How can he sleep when he had worked at the United Nations?
We have two people I want to compare. The other day, HE Mutharika fell. He told us that at his age, falling was not an issue. We all fall sometimes. Chaponda sleeps and he tells us he wasn’t sleeping. It is ok honourable minister. Real people sometimes sleep when they should be awake. n