“As my Malawian friends and compatriots, the Most Paramount Native Authority Mzee Mandela; Abiti Joyce Befu, MG 66; Nganga Maigwaigwa, PSC (RTD) and Malawi’s only Mohashoi, herein present will agree, Malawi is a uniquely African tragedy,” Jean-Philippe continued, after taking a sip from his glass of water.
“Ethnicity and tribalism are serious causes of problems in Africa. We have all heard about this. We all know this. We all know that these twin sisters lead to nepotism, corruption, internecine wars and, in extreme cases, even genocide as the case was in Rwanda in 1994. However, in Malawi, ethnicity and tribalism have largely been accepted, accommodated and domesticated as a silent government resource allocation policy, too. That’s why Malawi is unique.
“Each tribe that comes to power makes sure its people are in good and strategic positions in the public service, the army, and the police. Each tribe comes to power with tribe oriented policies and Malawians are unique because they believe that as long as their kind is in power they are all in power. They forget about their individual problems and the need for personal advancement. Such is the power of Malawian communalism.
“What is also unique about Malawi is that it is the Malawian, European, American and Asian educated, trained, formed and formatted civil servants, political leaders, pastors and even journalists that promote and implement tribalism and ethnicity while the common people themselves feel cosmopolitan. If Malawians really hated each other the way the politicians and senior civil servants want, Malawi would have already burned to ashes. What shocked me when I was in Malawi was the speed at which people who lived in the USA and Europe for over 40 years become easily retribalised.
“Thus, social scientists and other researchers need to reorient their research questions to find out if eurocentric education is transformative enough to take on Malawian tribalism.
“There are also other characteristics that make Malawi a uniquely African tragedy. Malawi is, for example, the only country in the world where two official flags fly side by side. These two flags are on vehicles license plates, on the logo of the Malawi Olympic Committee, in some embassies and online.
“Tragically, no one in Malawi asks why this is the case. Politicians, from the president down to local councilors never bother to rectify this anomaly. Tragically, no civil society organisation, as the voice of the silent majority, ever cares to question this dual identification of their country.
“Also unique about Malawi is the fact that traffic laws are hardly followed. The traffic laws of Malawi prescribe that all motorcycle riders must wear an approved crash helmet. But today in Malawi, no one bothers to wear one and if you travel to Mitundu in Lilongwe even the police there don’t bother to put on the helmet. And no one is ever arrested for the misdemenour.
“Even more interestingly, Malawi is a unique African tragedy because it believes in cheating itself. Malawians claim to be in the excess of 17 million; but if you ask the people responsible for census statistics where all these people live, they have no answer because they know that in the absence of a true and objective population count and identification the true population of that country cannot be known.
“Madames et messieurs, Malawi is also unique because there, public servants can go wrong but the Attorney General will protect them from prosecution and even mere public censure. I will give you an example. When tractors Malawi bought for its agricultural revolution got stolen or abused and the office of the ombudswoman investigated and concluded there was maladminstration and asked comptrollimg officers to merely apologise but the country’s Attorney General was made to quickly jump in to ensure no apology was issued. In fact and uniquely, the office of the ombudswoman was asked to apologise to the very people who had mismanaged the tractors.
“These and more characteristics make Malawi a uniquely African tragedy. Je vous remercie mesdames et messieurs,” Jean-Philippe said and received a long French standing ovation.