Professor Abiti Dr Joyce Befu, MG 66 and MEGA-1 and us, her people, are in the Republic of Dedza to visit this unique land where the Ngoni and Chewa live side by side, dance side by side, eat side by side, think side by side, die side by side and get buried side by side.
History holds that Dedza was once upon a time part of Kanyenda’s kingdom, which shared boundaries with his relative, Kabunduli to the East, Chulu to the North West. How true that is, we don’t know and we will try to find out during our one week stay here.
We are booked at Dedza Potter’s Lodge, but we will not be sleeping there for our own security.
Last Thursday we ventured to Linthipe Township to do what all responsible and successful men do. They relax over a soft drink, a Castel fantako, and pork mang’ina every day or at least once every two days.
In one of the centres of happiness, we met a loquacious man from Lobi. He introduced himself as a politically neutral observer. We bought him a drink and sat down to talk.
“What’s your post May 21, 2019 forecast?” Jean-Philippe asked him.
“Lazarus Chakwera will be president of Malawi and MCP will be the ruling party, which means the UTM and DPP and UDF will be the opposition,” the Lobi man said with academic confidence.
“How do you know?” Abiti wondered.
“Everywhere people want Chakwera and the MCP,” the man from Lobi said.
“Who are these people?” Nganga asked.
“People from all over Malawi stop here and tell us the same thing. Chakwera and MCP are in government from May 2019. Period.”
“How do you know they are not bluffing?” I asked.
“How do you know they are bluffing?” the Lobi man challenged.
“The problem is that every political fanatic thinks his presidential candidate and party are the best and will win. Last time we were in Mulanje and Phalombe, some people told us that everybody in Malawi loves Peter Mutharika and the DPP. So, both will win. In Ntcheu, we heard the same thing. Someone even challenged us that Nsipe will become another Ndata, with a university and an international airport because Chilima and UTM will win hands down! Why? Everybody wants Chilima and UTM,” I said.
“OK, you can doubt anything else but one fact remains that here in Dedza no party other than the MCP can win. Here, even if you took a stone or hyena to represent the MCP, the stone or hyena would win against any candidate,” the Lobi man declared.
Then Mandela observed: “The problem with us Malawians is that we are more concerned with our micronations than our entire country. As long as my brother, sisters, tribespeople and relatives are eating and satisfied, things are fine, Malawi is developing. When people complain that no community college has been built in Likoma, someone shows a college built in Neno as proof that everybody in Malawi has benefitted. When people complain that there is no iron sheet and cement subsidy in Nkhata Bay, another person shows a house in Thyolo to prove that the programme has worked. To develop Malawi, we need to outgrow the micro-nationalistic biases that cloud us.”
“So, what is the way forward, sage?” Jean-Philippe asked.
“We need to sit down as Malawians and develop a long-term development plan, the Malawi Vision 9999, that will do away with ethnicity-influenced distribution of national wealth, rewarding sycophancy, and praising and worshipping witchcraft and miracles!” Mandela said.
“But miracles happen!” I said.
“No country in the world has grown economically based on miracles and begging for crumbs. Developed countries are where they are today because their people were taught and told to work hard. To innovate. To invest. To sacrifice. To be disciplined. They follow rules and ethics. That’s what will be contained in Malawi Vision 9999.”
“Miracle economies, characteristic of Africa, remain poor even with natural resources under their feet! Miracle economies cry for wealth facing in the wrong direction” Jean-Philippe said.
“The higher the belief in miracles, the poorer the nation; the lower the belief in miracles, the richer the nation,” Mandela summed up.
“Malawi Vision 9999. How many more years to go?” Nganga asked, smiling.
“7,980 only!” Jean Philippe responded. n