Growing up in my home village, Phapa, in Karonga—that serene geographic beauty of sand and mikoma trees dotted with undulating hills of Bongoya and Tilora—I was always fascinated by ba sekulu (grandfather) Vilemi Dazi.
Well, he was not really my grandfather by blood, but he was old enough to be one so we were raised to call them such.
Every morning around 6am, Vilemi Dazi would carry his chiphana (a used piece of fishing net) that passed for a bathing sponge and head to Hanga, our village beach along the sparkling waters of northern Lake Malawi for his early morning bathe.
He was at least 70 years old. While at Hanga, he would change into clean, well pressed clothes and start walking along the beach, chatting up fishermen here and there.
He would visit friends—a few hours at the Tigones, ‘greet’ the prominent Yakubaba Msiskas up at the mansion, chat up old man Mboshi and slowly, but majestically, carry his tall frame down to the CCAP church that kissed Bongoya Hills for a Madodana meeting, after which he would proceed with his sojourns and meet and greet. This was a daily ritual.
If it is a Sunday, you would sure see him at the church where you would have to brace yourselves for Lombo lwa Mabeyelero—that long winded sleep-inducing Presbyterian prayer for all Synods in the world, State presidents and all that breathes God’s air.
Vilemi Dazi ensured that by the time he finishes rattling off names and places that needed the Lord’s hand, it would be at least a good one hour of closed eyes that would have waited for an Amen for eternity!
The long and short of the story is that sekuru Vilemi Dazi was always on the move, doing nothing in particular, until the sun got tired (hence, Vilemi Dazi; which means it is the sun that will get tired, not him).
Only when the sun disappeared into darkness, did he go home—and only because others would want to sleep and would consider him a nuisance.
Vilemi Dazi was the most visible person in my village, visited every home and chatted up everyone—with zero output.
But then, he was old, could neither till land nor fish and was certainly not a village head burdened by community problems. He deserved to while away his last days on earth whatever way he could.
Yet, this new Vilemi Dazi of ours has a country to run, but he is all over. If he is not pinning some medal on folks fancying themselves ‘armies’, then he is inspecting some road that his predecessor built, among other mundane tasks that someone who is serious about governing would not even think of indulging in.
It looks like he wants to attend every function he has been invited to.
And boy has he developed a love for private jets—hopping to Maputo, flying to Tanzania, jetting to Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Botswana in just weeks.
Somebody should tell the President that the plane he is hopping on is no toy. It is an expensive beast to operate.
There are landing fees to pay, hourly charges to fly it, and rents for hanger space for taxpayers to cough among other expenses associated with private jetting.
Instead of tiring the sun out like sekeru Vilemi Dazi, President Lazarus Chakwera should work for Malawians as he promised and so far his idea of working is speechifying and travelling around.
But as he talks and visits—sometimes embroidering himself in scandals (the Bushiri-gate in South Africa and Covid-gate in Botswana)—things are falling apart in Malawi as his job of leading this country suffers.
Poor citizens, including women—some of whom come with infants—are spending weeks waiting for subsidised farm inputs that Chakwera and his governing partners promised would go smoothly and reach every farming family with ease. We now know that was a lie as a huge number of deserving poor people have been left out and the lucky ones who are actually getting, are literally sweating for it.
As he talks and talks, his cronies and close aides are auctioning the country to the highest bidder.
As he jets around, his administration is failing to pay civil servants on time and disburse funding to ministries, departments, agencies and councils.
And when he finally sits on his office chair to do something, it is to do crazy things such as signing off hefty allowances for members of Parliament, the majority of who belong to his Malawi Congress Party and alliance partners.
When you look back and try to reflect on what Chakwera has done during his time as President, the results are underwhelming: binders full of speeches here today and there tomorrow; more or less like the transporter.
Now, that sounds like a one-term record. n