There comes seasons in the history of nations when people, yes the people, must stand up to the incumbency and raise a voice of how they want to be governed. Well, that season blew in Malawi, then Nyasaland, in the early 1960s. Tired of oppression under the tumultuous rule of the colonial minority, one composed rule punctuated by terror and segregation, Malawians rose up, raised their voice and defined the independence way of how they wanted to be governed.
Independence, too, proved not enough. The colonial spirit of terror and segregation made its way into the bloodstream of Kamuzu Banda’s rule. He, too, as a result, became the oppressor—turning everything into yet another season for the people, again, to stand and re-decide how they wanted to proceed. They sent Kamuzu packing and opted for democracy.
Today, we are 21 years old in democracy. But the journey, if you read history, has not been as smooth as one would want. It has, again, been defined by perpetual struggles between the leader and the led.
These struggles, just like the colonial and independence ones, border on the people’s yearn to have their development aspirations met amid increased arrogance and affluence of few with power.
I am sure we all remember how Malawians, poverty-stricken and struggling due to government’s increased levels of corruption, stood up and raised their voice against the seasons of Bakili Muluzi’s attempt to rewrite the law to his selfish advantage.
Seriously, we have not forgotten the seasons of Bingu wa Mutharika’s excess in 2011, when thousands raised their voices against the soaring cost of living under his watch.
The thing is: Every season of pain and leadership excess, as history notes, stirs strong feelings of consciousness among the people—the consciousness that has been critical in reshaping or redefining new ways of how the people want to be governed.
It is disheartening though that, despite the experience of history, these seasons are perpetual.
We are, today, still poor, yet a lot of blood of betterment has been shed by many since the fight against the seasons of colonial establishment in early 1900s.
We are, today, still suffering at the hands of governments that are corrupt, extravagant, nepotistic and, to be raw, are bent on affluence.
But history has its ways of teaching you—Malawians. It tells you every season of pain, State excess or executive arrogance is an invitation to collective consciousness. It is an invitation for the people to seek an address to their leaders, oh yes.
I am sure we are living in that season, today. Let us face it: Since he came to power, President Peter Mutharika has addressed us, the people, on various forums.
His addresses, if you have noted, have stopped at telling us what his government intends to and also what it has done. We have listened to sweet tunes of his hoarse voices regarding what his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has done in the 17 months it has been in power.
Simply put, Malawians have been taught various things regarding the fact that Malawi is moving in the right direction courtsey of the wise and dynamic leadership of His Excellency Professor Peter Mutharika.
Not that Mutharika and his government have been lying. No. Rather, the discussion on the state of things in Malawi has been quite a monologue. We, as a people, have not spoken in response, to tell the president that despite his perpetual good feelings, it is still cold outside. The cost of living is getting higher with each passing day. With government raising fees and the cost of various commodities, it is tough to survive out here, Mr President.
Now, the whole thing boils to this: Because Mutharika has always been addressing us without us addressing him, his assumption is that all is well among his people. That is why he goes all out in extreme extravagance, flying in the most expensive planes to New York, USA. I mean that is why he bloats the team that flies to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) for suffering taxpayers to suffer even more.
But, as a nation, this season, too, is a silver lining. It presents us the choice of standing up to incumbency, correct the wrongs or stay indoors and continue wailing—like children. n