The White House, located at Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest in Washington DC is a monument in the city from where American presidents have governed since 1800.
The White House dazzles you when you are in the President’s Park which is open to the public and visitors can take its photographs and are generally left to their own devices as long as they do not do or show something fishy to invite the wrath of countless snipers who station themselves on top of the building and the choppers which buzz now and then to guard the presidential airspace.
President Joyce Banda did not hide the fact that she was excited to join other three African presidents pencilled to meet Barack Obama at the White House last week, but what we did not get is the fact that she considered the invitation itself as a great achievement to the extent of embarrassing herself and all Malawians by saying she was the first Malawian president to be invited there when Lyndon Johnston hosted the late Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda in 1967.
The remark has since been picked by some commentators in the cyberspace as an indication that the seemingly new US foreign policy of bamboozling some African presidents that seem to toe its line and view of world order, by inviting them in groups to meet Obama and discuss generalities other than specifics concerning individual countries, is working.
In other words, the meeting had the intended effect on our President and achieved US foreign policy goals as much as it was also a continuation of the President enjoying the adoration of the outside world to the point of trying to lie to Malawians.
But she must know this. Malawians obviously want good relations with the outside world facilitated by their president, but at the same time, they want their leader to maintain her dignity and not lose her head to the extent of voicing out nothings when dealing with the outside world.
Obama is an inspiration to us all, but there is no reason to exaggerate the adoration to the extent of lying to justify the photo opportunity with him.
And talking of justification, a figure of K37 billion has been floated as the reward of this US trip to Malawians. As usual, the questions that journalists should have asked to put a bit of context are: Who came up with the figure and how was it arrived at? Is it as a result of trade or aid? If it is aid, is it new aid that was negotiated during the group meeting that the President had with Obama? Is that how the US system works?
In the absence of tangible answers to these questions, the K37 billion is once again another fine piece of propaganda to justify hand-shaking in the US when Malawians want answers to their day-to-day problems.
And tellingly, the President is not doing enough to solve this as she is busy shaking hands of world leaders and celebrating imaginary successes of her one-year rule. Are we not told that this weekend there will be a jamboree at Civo Stadium to celebrate PP’s one year in power?
But what is there to celebrate? Is it Malawians eating bonya and spending sleepless nights at Admarc where there is no maize? And should we be celebrating or mourning Bingu wa Mutharika who died this time for PP to assume power? Is this not being insensitive? Will DPP not be justified if it says PP is celebrating death which is never a cause of joy in Malawian culture even if it involves your sworn enemy for the mere recognition that we will all die one day?
Joyce Banda is clearly blundering. But Malawians do not deserve that. Malawians deserve a president who walks tall and is never intimidated or overawed by situations. Maybe our President should meet Beyonce because it is only then will she be truly the first Malawian president to do so.