Malawi has been touted as the Warm Heart of Africa because of the warmth its people exude every time they meet a stranger. The stranger could be from another country or one community member visiting another within the country. They are welcome with warmth and smile.
If you ask the most religious people they will tell you that Malawi is a God-fearing nation—although the Republican Constitution, which is supposed to articulate such proclamations does not say so. The mere fact that the Constitution guarantees freedom of worship does not mean Malawi is a Christian or Muslim or otherwise—as it is, Malawi is a secular nation. Forget that even political leaders now and then call on God when things are not going on well in the country, especially the economy.
Well, God will not come from heaven to solve Malawi’s economic woes. No amount of prayer and rolling on the ground will solve the rampant corruption and greed by most of our leaders who are busy amassing personal riches. The urge to enrich yourselves than the nation will not be solved by a national day of prayer. It will be solved when leaders realise that they ought to serve the greater good and not just their households. Praying and not abiding by the basic Biblical principles, such as not stealing, is meaningless. I digressed.
Malawi is also a very superstitious nation. I still cannot comprehend that in this day and age there are people who believe that something as natural as a lightning is witchcraft. But I am not totally surprised. Malawians—educated or not, well travelled or not are superstitious. The only difference between those in the village and those living in air-conditioned houses is that the former believe in witchcraft while the latter believe in demons. Sometime back I visited a friend. What I found shocked me to the core. I found her in the middle of praying and casting out demons in a cockroach. According to her, cockroaches are used by the devil (Satan) to attack people. Forget that this friend’s place is usually untidy hence inviting cockroaches. That’s the level of superstition apparent in our country.
It is this superstitious attitude that makes even our economic think-tanks to believe there is some form of supernatural beings and forces that are sabotaging Malawi’s economy. I dare say there is none. It is our own failure to properly manage the economy. And don’t even blame it on donors’ withdrawal of aid.
Almost 52 years of independence and with a regular in-flow of donor money, what have we really achieved? How have we used that money? In many cases the money has gone straight into people’s pockets instead of towards its intended purpose.
It is a pity that this behaviour of suspecting demons or witchcraft for our misfortunes is so internalised among many that sometimes it has become a barrier to development. So, after killing someone because of suspected witchcraft do the problems instantly go away? Nope. Actually, it’s more problems.
Malawians, oftentimes find it hard to appreciate the elderly as a blessing to those of us who are young. We fail to realise that the elderly are often in their own right a well of wisdom and intelligence from which we can tap from. n