Good people, what is it about power that people who campaign with a trillion words don’t seem to know when to say ‘bye’?
This is not about our own Bakili Muluzi, the former president to forget who tried and failed to stay in power beyond the legally acceptable two five-year tenure after the infamous Third Term and Open Term crusades.
Neither is this another dressing-down of Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza who has orchestrated an orgy of killings, shootings and hushing of citizens opposed to how he bulldozed his way to a third term that has earned him sworn critics among those who liken elected positions to a relay race.
It’s no chiding of Paul Kigame, the man who rebuilt Rwanda from years of genocide, healing the wounds of warring tribes and modernising the battered country into the continent’s fastest rising economy—only to put his statesmanship up in smoke by attempting what Muluzi failed to do when Nkuruzinza was just a good boy.
Ignore the mangy dogs that often mistake barebones for unfinished business.
Theirs is a well told story which draws more expletives than superlatives from those who chant: ‘Viva Democracy!’ or ‘No leader is indispensable!’
Power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts absolutely!
It is said a good dancer knows when to bow out—just before the thunderous applauses fade into rebukes, jeers and boos.
But overstaying is not a political craze alone. It is a curse plaguing the arts as well. It leaves the creative sector stunting and haemorrhaging at the hands of inept, clueless leaders while denying the artists—the supposed ultimate beneficiary of unfinished business the art-based dictators cite for staying put just when they are supposed to be out of the picture—the right to elect new leaders who share their aspirations and vision to uplift the arts.
Clinging to power is the story of one Mike Sambalikagwa Mvona, an overrated author who is still calling the shots at Malawi Writers Union almost a year after he was supposed to retire and retreat to Malaka or Machinjiri to do what he did not do best: Cross out typos and winding, ambiguous sentences littering his numerous books that needed revised editions the day the manuscripts left his hands.
And there are well-known Nkuruzinzas at Poetry Association of Malawi (PAM) where Njonjonjo Katsoka and his ‘new committee’ started reciting and dictating the rules over 10 years ago (and that is the first and last time we heard about poets going to polls).
Such is the allure of power in the arts sector that Reverend Chimwemwe Mhango defied a clerical transfer from Lilongwe to Embangweni partly because he is the boss at the Music Union.
But there is time for everything.
Even time to go. Artists must learnt to bow out before they are booed, jeered and smoked out. Sticking to peoples union makes Nkurunziza look holier than St Gabriel, the archangel. n