The living legends awards bestowed on reggae queen Rita Marley and President Joyce Banda in Lilongwe last Saturday are a reminder that not all heroes are dead.
This is why I felt â€œlet the dead bury the deadâ€ when President JB added the New State House to a lengthening list of public structures named after founding president Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda.
The newness of the so-called Kamuzu Palace, likeÂ the New Parliament Building, wasÂ perishable like boy-meets-girl songs, but the names from political tongues speak volumes about dwindling creativity in our country where even musicians often name their bands after a song and football teams at Bangwe call themselves Madrid.
What is it about Kamuzu that the best bridges, hospital, stadium, roads, mountaintop views and airport bear his name? Who will save the French Cultural Centre from this Kamuzu jazz?Â
One would think Kamuzu is the best thing that happened to the nation, but was he not the despised despot rejected with an overwhelming vote in a referendum on June 14 1993.
Of course, most of our leaders grew up when Kamuzu was killing free thought and they are casualties of robot thinking.
Just when victims of Kamuzuâ€™s high-handedness expect us to stop glorifying dictators, our leaders are still singing the 1971 mbumba anthem Zonse Zimene nza Kamuzu Banda (all we have is Kamuzuâ€™s).Â
Nowadays, no dictator deserves prolonged applause. Dead or alive, they are a hazard to our teenaged democracy.Â
The problem with politicians naming public possessions after their fellows is that it presumes that there are no more deserving achievers outside politics.
Yet, Malawi was not built by politicians alone.Â In our midst are numerous unsung heroes, including artists, who can save Kamuzu from undying veneration as well as replace names of foreign despots which litter our streets. Name-giving is an art.
We may be a society which takes pride in honouring achievers when they are dead, but what did our praise-singing benefit fallen writer Legson Kayira and musicians Allan Namoko, Michael Yekha, Michael Sauka, Stonald Lungu,Â Saleta Phiri, Bright Nkhata and Evison Matafale?