Let me start by congratulating the Vice-President of the Republic of Malawi (for earning his PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) from the University of Bolton. Well done, Mr Vice-President. As I wrote sometime back, I mentioned that I am extremely proud of my Chanco hostelmates who have made it in life. We have Mr Lawson Chitseko who is one of the senior clerks at the Malawi National Assembly, Paul Chiponda working in the private sector and Stanley Teleka who is doing great work at the National Aids Commission. Lately, I have learnt that Achimtedza (we would not reveal his real name here, but Vice-President Dr Chilima knows who this man is), has landed a big job in a denominational health programme.
I do not know how many siblings Vice-President Chilima has. I know two at least and one was already a PhD holder many years back. Now, I have a problem that I cannot just talk about Dr Chilima and get away scot-free. Which Dr Chilima are you referring to? The Vice-President or his brother?
You know, ladies and gentlemen, there is a problem with democracy and all the good things we have missed from North Korea type of dictatorship. Have you ever thought what we would have been if we were in such repressive, hero-worshipping one-man show countries? May be you have not. Let me take you down memory lane to Colonel Muammar Qaddafi’s Libya. The Libyan strongman is credited to have written the The Green Book in which he outlined his political philosophy. The Green Book, first published in 1975 was compulsory reading for school children in that country. We hear that Libyan children spent two hours each week studying The Green Book as part of their curriculum. Every day of the week, extracts were broadcast on television and radio. Billboards contained slogans from the book.
Then, let me go to Mao’s Little Red Book (described as such by Westerners). This book contained words of wisdom from Chairman Mao and was also compulsory reading for China. The most popular versions were printed in small sizes that could be easily carried and were bound in bright red covers, becoming commonly known in the West as the Little Red Book. The book was first given to delegates at a conference on January 5 1964 who were asked to comment on it.
What does this all have to do with Dr Chilima, the Vice-President? Yes, the problem is that we are not in Gaddafi’s Libya. If we were, Dr Chilima’s PhD dissertation would have been made compulsory reading for all of us. We would have to memorise each and every sentence of the document, make it compulsory reading and have billboards where the quotations would be presented. Would that be a good idea? Of course, it would, wouldn’t it? I cannot wait to get my hands on this document. In a democracy, he can choose to not release the document, which will be sad, of course. When will the dissertation be available online for all of us to download and immerse ourselves in the wisdom? Can’t wait.