As we promised last week, Abiti Joyce Befu, also known internationally as MG 66, Alhajj Mufti Jean-Philippe LePoisson, SC (RTD), the Most Paramount Native Authority Mzee Mandela, Nganga Maigwaigwa, PSC (RTD) and I, Malawi’s only Mohashoi, are here in the one-highway city, the so-called City of Zomba. We are still lodged at the Dark Diamond.
Interestingly, the majority of the Zomba residents we have talked to believe that theirs is a city. When it comes to matters of belief, we hereby unashamedly reveal that we are unqualified to judge anyone.
We are not qualified to judge which religion will really take you to heaven, leave you right here on earth or take you to the nether world. We are not qualified to declare if lawyers are more ethical than police officers. We are unqualified to judge if teachers, nurses, mortuary attendants and cooks are really less crooked and corrupt than accountants and politicians. We are unqualified to judge those who judge us, Malawians, as the poorest in the world. We are unable to judge whether G-String is worse than 5-Miles Den, two of the most popular places here in the so-called City of Zomba.
Last night, we decided to go back to Chancellor College to chat with some friends. As soon as we parked the VW Amailoko in the Principal’s parking slot, we sauntered up the steps to the Porters’ Lodge. We found the duty porter listening to something through miniature headphones plugged into his worn out APM mobile phone.
“Hi,” Jean-Philippe greeted the porter.
“Yes, Sir!” the porter answered politely like police preparing to arrest a motorist for a minor traffic offense.
“Can we see Professor VVTI?” I requested.
“You are Mr….?” The porter asked.
“No. I am Mrs Jean-Philippe….”
“But you are a man, Sir!” the porter exclaimed.
“You see, young man, as a front-office person, you need to learn the language of welcome! If you want to know our names just ask, ‘May I know your names, please?’ Instead of that nonsensical viral question associated with Malawian receptionists. Everywhere I go, it’s the same: ‘You’re Mr….?”
“Sorry, Sir,” the porter apologised before telling us, “Professor VVTI is in the Senior Staff Common Room. May I take you there?”
“I know the place,” I challenged.
In the Senior Staff Common Room, we found Professor VVTI arguing with a youngish colleague about the National Council for Higher Education, popularly known by its acronym: NCHE.
“You see,” Professor VVTI said patting his youngish colleague on the left shoulder, “the NCHE cannot, and will never come to subject Chancellor College to inspection for purposes of accreditation. Dilapidated or otherwise.”
“Why not? The NCHE is empowered by the laws of Malawi to inspect, assess and accredit any higher education institution to ensure output quality!” said the youngish man, glass of beer roaming between his mouth and the counter.
“Can the police inspect and assess the army?” Professor VVTI asked.
“Prof, you are comparing non-comparable phenomena,” the youngish man fought back.
“What I mean is that Chancellor College, our Chancellor’s college, produces almost all the inspectors and assessors. And it designs the assessment criteria. Do you expect the same people to be so stupid as to inspect, assess and fail themselves? Chancellor College is the army and your so-called NCHE is the police!”
“Okey. Chancellor College is hereby an act of parliament. Does the NCHE have any legal power to deregister Chancellor College?”
“I have not read the NCHE Act.”
“To have an institution inspected and assessed, that institution has to apply and pay a non-refundable fee of K1 million. Do you really believe Chancellor College can waste money on an exercise that it knows will change nothing about its status?”
“You mean institutions pay to be inspected and accredited?”
“K1 million per inspection!”
“Now I understand why the NCHE fails institutions it assesses!”
“Have you ever heard that the so-called inspectors or assessors include anyone from the private higher education institutions?” n