I was born at the dawn of independence for many African countries. A year after my birth, Malawi attained her independence from Britain, 71 years after Nyasaland was declared a British protectorate.
Many of the leaders at the time extolled the virtues of hard work. Jomo Kenyatta, the first president of Kenya used to finish his speeches with these words, “Uhuru na Kazi”. Basically he was saying there is no uhuru (freedom) without kazi (hard work).
Our own Kamuzu Banda in many of his speeches advised Malawians to work hard in many spheres of the endeavours, especially in their fields so that they would get bumper harvest.
It was rare if at all to hear these leaders telling the people what they were going to do for the people being governed. They provided the leadership the people needed. Dr Banda used to say that he opened Chamwavi Estate and other such estates to be demonstration projects for the people to see how modern farming was like. They led by example.
Where are we in 2020? Much of what we hear on the podium concerns what the leaders are going to do for the people. When you elect us, they say, we will give you shoes, we will give you loans, we will give you a bridge, and we will build rivers where there are no rivers and then construct the bridge on the river. One wonders what the role of the people being governed is.
From the speeches, it is clear that the people governed are to wait for their benefactors to provide the much needed manna from the leaders. Is this what leadership is all about? Should we really be surprised about the clamour for leadership to do things for people?
Malawi has gone through a bruising electoral court case. There are those that are smarting from the results of the court case and there are those that are celebrating the results of the court case. In essence, this judgment is meaningless if we go back to business as usual. It is a wakeup call for all Malawians to rededicate themselves to improving the lot of the nation.
The never ending news is for Africans risking limb and life to cross high seas to go to Europe for a better life. Europe has adequate social services for its population. What we should know is that for these countries to be where they are, there were those who worked hard to bring the countries to that state of development they enjoy.
It is our turn to put on the work clothes and make our hands and feet dirty to develop Malawi. If you are a plumber, be the best plumber that the world has ever seen; if you are a teacher like me, be the best teacher that has ever taught; if you are a doctor, be the best doctor for the people of Malawi; and if you are the president, be the best president the world has ever known. We are not talking about make believe assessments. Those that are served by you should be able to testify that you deserve this honour.
We should not work to see the fruits of our labour. We are working to make Malawi a better place whether we see the fruits of our labour or not. The Levi Mumbas, the Sangalas, the Dunduzu Chisiza’s and many more pioneers of our country never saw the day of independence, but they worked tirelessly with others to gain our independence.
Kamuzu Banda and his team worked hard to build the necessary amenities that we have run down due to our recklessness. There is no reason to complain that Singapore is much better than us and yet at independence we were in the same league. The question we should ask ourselves is, what I can do to make Malawi look like Singapore in 20 to 30 years.
It is time to rededicate ourselves to mother Malawi and move her forward. Uhuru na Kazi.