Hon Folks, now that we’re gone past Christmas, all roads in the world of the living, no matter where you are on this globe, lead to New Year’s Day.
Just as Christmas means so many things to different people, New Year’s
Day, January 1, does not connote the beginning of the year for everyone.
Some people on this globe go by a different calendar.
Still, there’s no escaping the euphoria that comes with the New Year’s
Day—the din of the countdown as the midnight is crossed on a one-way
ticket, the beautiful TV images of the skies lit up by colourful fireworks, the marathon dining, wining and dancing going into the early hours of January 1— the shared awareness of how precious life is and how lucky we are to have entered the new year.
Hours past midnight of December 31 my mobile phone gets inundated with
Happy New Year’s Day messages. While the happy-go-lucky ones who chose to remain awake at the crowning of the New Year would probably be snoring as the sun rises in the morning, those who kept away from the bottle and some good sleep would probably start the day by attending a prayer service.
By noon it’s more or less like Christmas, fowls of different kinds—turkey, chicken, duck or zinziri–and other delicacies, will be on the special New Year menu. You just had to observe how busy folks were in the run-up to Christmas, cashing money from auto-tellers and shopping like crazy in readiness for the special occasion!
But after the festive euphoria, what next?
Monotony! Yes, especially if, like me, you have been doing same things and nursing same feelings year after year. Just anticipating a new year, celebrating its arrival then seeing it gradually pass is a rhythm of life that eventually assumes the look and feel of a grooved record.
More so when the rest of January comes knocking on your empty pockets with urgent demands that can’t be deferred—rental, utilities, food, fees, fertiliser and farm labour.
Which is why I’d like to suggest we do things somewhat differently as we look forward to the brand new year, 2016.
Let’s spend some quality time doing end-of-year stock-taking of what milestones each one of us has banked in the year. Let’s also ask ourselves: what could I have done differently?
As a nation, the same is equally true, if not more so. The past, our past, isn’t merely there to remind us of Cashgate and other forms of corruption that have eroded a third of the revenue government could have used to provide the much-needed public goods and services.
It’s not there to make us regret forever that we wasted over 50 years of peace and tranquillity moving around the poverty circle as if we were a war-torn or failed country.
It’s not there to simply remind us that we claimed to be a hardworking nation and yet for the past 21 years of multiparty democracy, there’s hardly a project that wasn’t beset by cost over-runs or accomplished within set deadlines.
The past isn’t there to haunt us with the academic garbs our presidents have loved to show off to the poor—Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, Dr. Bakili Muluzi, Prof. Bingu wa Mutharika, Dr. Joyce Banda, Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika—while failing to deal with the mediocrity that it has eventually scared away donors and investors alike.
Rather, the past is there so we can learn from it how not to repeat our mistakes. There’s hardly a challenge we are facing today for which there
are no answers in our own history or that of other nations. No challenge is insurmountable.
Let’s go into 2016 determined to make a difference. Life is a struggle and we can improve by realising that what we do well can be done better. Yes, the past is for us to learn from as we strive to be smarter in tackling the challenges of today to create a better tomorrow.
We owe it to ourselves and our children to do whatever it takes to make Malawi a better place. I wish you all a happy and a prosperous New Year!