In the past several weeks, I have been reading a doctoral dissertation by Dr Manuel B. Kazembe of Staff Development Institute at Mpemba titled “Retracing Footsteps of the Literati: Towards an Understanding of Literacy Development through Stories of Malawian Teacher Educators” which he submitted in 2005 to Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 2005. I would encourage others to read it as I find the information contained therein a gem. There are many quotable areas but I found the following timely, noting the period that this country is going through: “…we interact with others in a meaningful way using “common” language within the parameters that are governed by a given societyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s culturally acceptable codes. Therefore, it cannot be emphasized enough that literacy is central to societiesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ and nationsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ survival, development, and progress as well as the appreciation, preservation, and promotion of peopleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s cultures. It is worth noting that unless we become literate about the goings on in the community, society and world we live in, we can neither make our contribution nor draw the benefits accrued to us by virtue of our membership to these.” [The italics are my addition]
Why do I find Dr KazembeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s statement useful? It is because I believe the leadership of this country is not so much guilty of failing the economy, not sourcing forex or not getting fuel in the country. These issues that are not available are indeed significant needs of the country. The fuel queues are certainly very long as those to Gehena (Hell). But the problem with the leadership of this country is more to do with Ã¢â‚¬Ëœpolitical and social illiteracy.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ The people who have the opportunity to speak on behalf of government are just too self-absorbed that they cannot understand the “about the goings on in the community, society and world we live in.” Take the example of the Muluzi-Sata interaction. Although I do not understand what harms we, as a country were supposed to suffer if President Sata continued to be angry, that President Muluzi “solved” the problem was remarkable. But instead of coming in and issuing a conciliatory statement, our government, in fear of the unknown of course, went on the offensive. If I were President MutharikaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s advisor, I would have asked him to issue the statement: “His Excellency former President Bakili Muluzi has demonstrated the wish of President Mutharika that as neighbours, we live cordially and one. The boundaries that are between our two countries were brought in by the colonialists. Furthermore, this government is encouraged by the role that the former president has played. We believe that retired presidents have wealth of experience that can be drawn upon in times like these. The State President cannot wait to meet with former President Muluzi. This is what His Excellency Ngwazi bla bla bla bla..”
We should not underestimate the office of the incumbent State President. He has all the state machinery that can organise, in a few hours or days to meet with his predecessor. The President does not need to be arrogant or intransigence to prove a point that he is the leader of the country. In fact he is, and so no need to prove anything.