The first presidential running mates’ debate came and went. People who were at the venue of the debate and those who listened or have since watched the recordings of the event assessed the candidates as to who was the “winner” and who did not do so well. Further, other people have not listened to the event and were not there but they have also been fed with assessments of who “won” and who “lost”.
It was Richard Msowoya who carried the day. I have heard this. All the candidates were not impressive. I have read this assessment. Why did Saulos Chilima come with beards shaven in that way? Dr Godfrey Chapola was not exciting. Sosten Gwengwe was defensive. Msowoya failed to answer the question on gays. He should have known better.
One of the things that people who assess others need to be sure of is: what is it that they are assessing? If you want a man to marry, do you assess their face or character? And when you have decided that you will assess their face, will you also care about the tone of their skin? Is light skin better for you or you would like them black as Kiwi shoe polish? Do you want them tall or short? Stout or lean? You will find that each person will have their own likes. Some characteristics will be liked by many while others will be liked by a few.
When I started learning about assessments, one of the things I was told is to be clear as to whether the assessment is an achievement test or it is an aptitude test. Achievement tests assess what is it that you know. I was told that the Malawi School Certificate of Education (some people call is the Malawi School Certificate of Examination, yes I heard this last time at the presidential function at Mary Mount in February 2014) is an achievement. The examinations check what one knows on the topic. Contrast that to an aptitude test. The aptitude test examines what you are capable of doing. Not surprisingly, therefore, we find many students who pass MSCE well but fail to make it in higher classes. My question now to Malawians is: how are we going to make the decision that so and so will make a good vice-president compared to so and so? Of course, there is another problem to the debates. What if we find that one running mate is superb but the real presidential candidate is mbola (useless, oops pardon me!)? My sense is that we do not know as yet how to handle such a situation poti voti ndi mumtima.
I was impressed with the story that President Joyce Banda narrated when she visited Traditional Authority (T/A) Mazengera in Lilongwe recently. This was a story of women at Nkhamenya in Kasungu who were living in sordid conditions and for a door, they had something called chikhwelero that they stabilised with a stick. To cut a long story short, JB has helped them. To cut my long story short: the first gates at Sanjika are being stabilised with a stick too. Who said charity begins at home?