Many Malawians will find it hard to believe that several men landed on the moon in the 1960s/70s. You cannot even begin to tell them that some spacecraft has left the solar system and will be cruising indefinitely for thousands of years, or you will risk being labelled one with an unsound mind.
But, ironically, the same people will believe the silliest of things. They will, for example, have no difficulty believing that a maize mill runs on human power; that people ‘kill’ their relatives to place them in a maize mill so that they can run it. They will have no difficulty believing that an elderly person in the village teaches young ones the art of witchcraft. They will indeed have no difficulty believing that albino body parts can make you rich.
Our belief system is warped, to say the least. The motor for a maize mill has a power rating of 15 or more horse power. At best, a human being can generate 0.5 horse power (a trained cyclist will generate 0.53 horsepower for one hour or longer). It is absurd to think that a 15 horse power machine will need the assistance of a 0.5 horse power human being to grind maize. The logic beats me completely.
There is no potion that will magically make a person rich. I have come across many medicine people selling all manner of herbs and animal bits which they claim will make people rich. They themselves look anything but rich and do not look like they will join the league of Bill Gates or Aliko Dangote any time soon. It would be wiser, in my view, to approach these filthy rich people (Aliko Dangote is Africa’s richest man and Bill Gates one of the richest in the world) and get tips on how one should conduct themselves to get rich than to approach an unknown entity who ends up telling you that the quickest way to get rich is to extract body parts from people with albinism. My foot!
Science and technology are not fool proof, but they are way better at explaining things than superstition is. Solutions that science and technology will offer will be open to analysis and criticism. If one is not satisfied, they can seek a different solution and subject to the same analysis and criticism. The same cannot be said of superstition. In fact, superstition is a manifestation of laziness to think. Those who advance superstitious beliefs claim to have been given some information by a deceased relative in a dream or to have obtained it from the bottom of the sea or such other awkward place. They will say something which will make you believe they are very special people who have had experiences that are not common to man.
Science, on the other hand, is not for special people. Anybody who is willing to engage their mind will be able to be a science practitioner. Agreed, science does not have all the answers. People that have pushed science beyond its boundaries to try and explain the origin of matter have actually done great injustice to it. But by and large, scientific methods have proved to be infinitely more reliable than meddling in the occult and trying to explain occurrences in metaphysical terms.
Those that have the desire to become rich should not turn to albinos but to science and scientific methodologies of doing things. Books such as Rich Dad Poor Dad or The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People will go a long way towards launching people on a path to success insofar as wealth is concerned.
I once had a gardener who used to dismiss anything percieved to be from books as “za m’ma novel” (stuff from novels—meaning from books). That is the problem with many Malawians: they are skeptical about books and about science, but are quick to accept superstitious explanations. Somebody once said “If you want to hide something from Malawians, put it in a put book.” Now this hatred of books, unfortunately, translates into acceptance of and indulgence in things superstitious.
Books and science explain how things work. I have found the Newton’s laws I learnt in secondary school more reliable than anything that I can get from any sing’anga.
I would urge the reader to search within their beliefs and check if they are logical or not. Those that fall flat in the face of logic should be uprooted forthwith. n