This is a reflection on the wisdom that a stitch in time saves nine
Back in my younger days I used to love Civics and Agriculture as school subjects because they used to teach us basic life skills and responsible mannerisms.
No wonder folks of the Doctor Hastings Banda era went on to be citizens of significance and substance. The graduates of that system and era are some of the respected captains of most well run and successful institutions of today.
That era of the four cornerstones had a lot of ingenuity of insight into how to build a viable society which according to Stanford Beer in Systems Thinking and Cybernetics is called the VSM (Viable Systems Model).
The downside with that era was only that the four cornerstones and the Doctor Hastings Banda’s project was ominously hijacked by political hoodlums and thugs masquerading as loyalists who were only acting to advance their goals. In the end, because of their excesses, the Banda project was made untenable.
One prays that the throne of contemporary era insulates itself from getting into such murky waters and gets derailed by usurpers of power.
The virtues of that system were that authority was respected, rules were followed and people were never aloof to the need to responsibly safeguard the public good because they had the wisdom of insight that said that what was good for society was good for all.
Fast forward twenty one years after we, including the author, chivalrously discarded the four cornerstones project; a myriad of social ills have come to haunt Malawi. One by one, tragedies, all man made, have taken permanent residence in this country.
Crumbling morals where fathers rape their daughters, husbands hack wives and wives amputate husbands’ precious assets, brothers marry sisters and there has come to the surface strange and bizarre sexual appetites.
Standards in hospitals have collapsed. Most hospitals run empty of drugs, equipment and the most basic of amenities leaving even the most passionate of our medics disillusioned and frustrated.
Appalling literacy, numeracy levels and a general degeneration of enlightenment at all levels of academic establishment driven by a cocktail of challenges in the education assembly line including underfunding, understaffing, undertraining, under motivating, under planning resulting in a chaotic calendar and outright neglect. The result is the churning out of half-baked academic zombies.
Institutionalised dishonesty that first reared its ugly heard with the obscene allowances (of up to 1000 days in a year of 364 days) in ministries such as Agriculture in 2008/9 and culminated in the looters and robbers of public resources brandishing the filth and spoils of their booty right in the face of taxpayers and doing so braggingly with soiled bravado and devilish extravagant flamboyance that eventually revealed itself into Cashgate.
Its excesses were so repugnantly revolting it made all our development partners vomit with disbelief. Thank heavens the thugs are getting the long arm of the law, one by one, gradually but surely.
Before the air was cleared of the nauseating stench of cashgate and its bitter after effects, Malawi was visited by yet another massive tragedy in the name of devastating floods.
The cost, both in lives lost and infrastructure damaged, that resulted in a destroyed economy, is a colossus. Thanks to the decisive actions of the authorities and the timely response of well-wishers within and outside Malawi, a tragedy of unimaginable proportions was minimised.
With the wisdom of hindsight, Malawi has been brewing this disaster for the last twenty or so years.
This is how: trees were cut down wantonly leaving mountains and hill tops bald shaven, forests were wiped out, unsustainable farming practices were embraced sanitised by the equally unsustainable Fisp.
Most unwittingly a free for all unregulated and illegal settlement in protected zones like the Long Live Kamuzu plateau on Soche Mountain and higher were allowed by the civic authorities across the country to the chagrin of all law abiding citizens. Unfortunately these settlements are among some that have borne the brunt of the fury of nature in its wake of rage.
It’s now refreshing to see that in its usual reactive instincts, Malawi is awakened to a tree planting frenzy. Everyone is rushing to plant a tree they should have planted and nurtured twenty years ago, or so.
This is all great except that instead of doing it the haphazard manner it is being done currently, there will be need for a coordinated approach for this drive to bear greater value.