There was this foolish traveller who had gone on a journey.
Everywhere he went, people made up all kinds of sad stories to tell him and the traveller fell for every one of them.
Pretty soon his money, clothes and even shoes had been cheated away from him.
When the traveller was completely naked, he decided to leave the main road and travel through the dense forest where no one could see him.
But he was soon discovered by the goblins that lived in the woods.
The goblins wanted to eat the traveller’s body, so they begged and pleaded and used kind words to try and trick him.
Of course, the traveller was fooled.
First he let the goblins eat one of his legs, then an arm, then more and more.
And as the last goblin was eating the traveller’s eyes, it turned and said: “Thank you, traveller. In return I leave you with this present.”
All the goblin left was this piece of paper with the word ‘fool’ on it.
“Thank you,” he said: “This is the first present anyone’s ever given me, I’m so happy!”
Then, the traveller died, the smile still on his face.
History is indeed interesting. There are times when humanity seems to be running in circles with no clear sense of headway.
The sad story of Malawi letting the reins of power into the hands of foolish-traveller-like leaders is still haunting the country.
Research confirms that the inability to learn from mistakes is the single biggest cause for failure for leaders. This is the first fatal flaw.
Certainly, President Peter Mutharika and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have failed to not only find their leadership ‘sweet pot’ but raise their leadership tent whose canvas represents all of the possible competencies a leader might display, including fixing fatal flaws.
Mutharika was handed an opportunity to prove himself either a prodigious success or an ignominious failure at running the affairs of the country and glow in his glorious success or wallow in the ignominy of failure.
He had several options of actualising this; among them learning from his predecessors’ mistakes— his brother the late Bingu wa Mutharika’s inclusive.
But it is clear the incumbent and his disciples lack the capacity to run the affairs of this country at minimum risk of besmirching the image of the entire DPP fanatics as failures at statecraft.
Thomas Jefferson said: “In a republican nation, whose citizens are to be led by reason and persuasion and not by force, the art of reasoning becomes of the first importance.”
Yet the country under DPP leadership has witnessed again in few weeks two civil society organisation marches —one in Lilongwe and the more recent in Rumphi —being met by parallel activities in whatever thoughtless disguise, but surely set by the government.
Unfortunately, Bingu’s DPP tried this high-handed strategy of countering protests, but found it wanting as it did not yield the desired results.
In the run-up to the July 20 2011 demonstrations against Bingu’s administration, DPP youth cadets took to the streets aboard the party’s branded pick-up vehicles, brandishing pangas.
And Bingu himself held a public lecture on the same day of the protests thinking he would divert people’s attention without easing their sufferings.
But eventually majority Malawians poured on the streets and told him enough was enough. The rest as they say is history.
So having this in mind and knowing that in a democracy, peaceful demonstrations against any government policy that is perceived and actually felt to be unjust and unreasonable is part of the rights of the citizens, what could make Mutharika buy such some DPP goblins’ tried-and-tested strategies perhaps is not known. n