It was only fitting that we did not celebrate the 52nd anniversary of our independence on Wednesday, not for lack of money as it has been touted, but for lack of something to celebrate.
But like the pitiable society that we are, a day of contemplation and reflection on why the 52-year-old was still crawling when others born in the same year were sprinting was instead spent in benevolent prayer in a building constructed with massive loans from the new colonial master, China.
As low key as this year’s independence celebrations were, prayers were not necessary.
The country’s problems, social and economic are a result of our own making. When we dedicate four hours to pray, God smirks, for lack of a better description.
Did we need four-hour prayers, plus a three-minute lecture in patriotism to put up reasonably attractive and professionally designed placards to celebrate 52 years?
Did Malawi need prayers for town planners to project growth and begin constructing new roads in our cities, for engineers at the water boards to design and construct new dams?
We have well trained individuals whose qualifications are mere decorations in their files. They do not need prayers to diligently do their job.
Do we need prayers to have electricity for 24 hours?
Malawi does not need prayers to have an effective and trusted civil service but systems which work. Cashgate did not happen because we did not pray to God. It happened because there was a weak financial management system, a leaking bucket as one donor described it.
Malawi did not and does not need prayers to plan for out-of-school youths who need employment today. What they needed 15 or 20 years ago was an inclusive education system not community colleges in 2016. It is now a case of too little too late.
We do not need prayers to have a healthy and well nourished population of children or empowered women and girls. We just need a better education system.
Malawi is a beautiful country, no doubt. Even in times of drought and hunger, it has a beautiful and clean freshwater lake that flows 365 days a year. It has wondrous sights and sounds at its national parks and game reserves that city dwellers in Europe and parts of Asia would gladly lift out of this country into theirs if it were possible.
But the levels of mediocrity surpass all great things about Malawi. After 52 years of independence, Britain is still feeding us and giving us medicines and supplies in our hospitals.
It is even more ironic that the ugly commemoration planks put up on the city’s roundabouts said we are a society committed to patriotism, integrity and hard work.
Those planks haphazardly painted black, red and green clearly show that there are no such commitments among us.
Where is the patriotism and integrity when a whole committee of supposedly intelligent Malawians could nod to mount such atrocious placards on a day we celebrate 52 years of independence?
Where is the hard work displayed in the childishly scrawled “with the help of God” as an afterthought?
The president thinks patriotism and integrity is the answer to the problems of this country. It is not. Trusted leadership is what Malawi lacks and has always been in shortfall for 52 years.