When I hear or read that Malawi is a failed state, I feel something that is a mixture of horror, fury and scorn. Whatever problems that Somalia and Zimbabwe have, they are not identical with MalawiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s, especially not Somalia.
Those foreigners who say Malawi is a failed State are ignorant of our country, its resources and our history. Those Malawians who regurgitate the stuff they have been made to swallow by foreigners are unpatriotic to put it simply.
As I have written on this page before that in 1962, an economist who was sent by the London colonial office to this part of Africa went back and reported that Nyasaland and Mauritius would only survive as pensioners of another State, that they were incapable of self-supporting. Since that time, Mauritius has defied the pessimism about that economist and has become a middle income country.
Malawi, on the other hand, has substantiated the predictions of that economist by making ends with substantial largesse from donors.
When you hear that a certain country has done well or poorly, you should examine the quality of its people. Has Malawi remained among the poorest countries of the world because its people are low of quality?
In my recently published book History of Malawi Volume 2 I quote the observation of the Phelps-stokes commission on education in eastern Africa which visited this country in 1924. It said :Ã¢â‚¬ËœThe type of (Nyasaland) native is equal to the best in any of Africa of them it may be said other colonies they are serving but their own people they cannot serve.”
This is how that highly powered commission which included Dr J.E.K Aggrey saw the great grandparents of the young Malawians of today. It did not stop there. It went on: “Landlocked Nyasaland with its unusually effective mission education, its virile native population its extensive resources of soil and natural beauty awaits the provision of adequate transportation within the protectorate and still more the establishment of a reasonable outlet to the sea for its great wealth”.
Malawi is poor not because its human and natural resources are poor. It has been well endowed with the resources that have made other countries prosperous. What then is the missing factor which if brought in could make a magnificent difference?
The first step for success both personal and national is self-knowledge. If you are not sure of where your abilities are, you might be doing things which are not your line and fail.
The late Norman Vincent Peale of the United States wrote a motivational book You can if you think you can success begins with the state of mind. You must have confidence in yourself, if whenever confronted by problems, you get frightened and assume that you are incapable of solving it, you will definitely fail. But if you summon up courage and say “if I chop it bit I will fell down this baobab trees,” you will succeed.
There are indeed problems in Malawi, fuel shortage occasioned by shortage of forex, the HIV Aids pandemic and all that. If we stuff our minds with the demoralising stuff like Malawi is a failed State, we will of course fail to make good of the resources that Almighty God has given us.
Malawi can solve these problems if she thinks she can. Let us cherish the right thoughts, take right action, and the results will follow.
By common observation, the brightest students in class do not always become the most successful in the civil service business or politics. Those who were moderately clever during schooldays have at times proved more successful. It depends on how we use the intelligence, time and strength that we have.
As between countries, the same observation applies. Countries with the most abundant resources have not always developed faster than those with less resource.
Malawi started its post-colonial days with more resources then Mauritius and Singapore, but these islands have left us decades behind in economics.