“I am the only prophet of the Lord here, but there are four hundred fifty prophets of Baal” 1 Kings 18, Holy Bible.
The death of Archbishop Tarcisius Gervasio Ziyaye, who was buried yesterday in Lilongwe, has marked the end of the year with yet another reminder of the fragility and vanity of life in a year which so many have perished due to the global coronavirus pandemic.
A bit fortunately for Malawi, the death toll, like in most African countries, is not as high as in the global epi-centres such as Europe, United States and Iran.
That we have dogged a full blown crisis, our troubled health system in mind, is puzzling. Poor luck, perhaps, or an act of God, as we believers would have it.
And looking back as a country, there is so much to praise the heavens; for believers, or count the stars for those who don’t believe in any Omni-powerful deity.
For definitely the country dogged an even bigger bullet this year when the people and their institutions rejected to be hoodwinked, cajoled or coerced to continue on the highway to the grave by persisting with the destructive agenda of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the dark forces that captured it.
Granted a chance to vote against the DPP on first asking, one suspects, Malawians overwhelmingly voted to remove it from power.
But aided by an incompetent and biased Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) and a fragmented opposition, the DPP still find a way, temporarily, back in office.
But no sooner had it emerged its route back was paved by ‘tippexed votes’, ghost entrants into the result management system, sheets and sheer incompetence of the Jane Ansah-led commission, did the same voters turn to endless protests.
For months, they refused to cow down to the whims of their arrogant president and government; braved police intimidation to regularly hold street and often violent protests, demanding justice and the resignation of Jane Ansah and the rest of the compromised commissioners.
The military that refused to shoot the protesters down, as their rogue government would have wished, were on the right side of history, too. The civil society leaders that organised and agitated and the judges that insisted on a fair were on the right side of history too.
But, the awakening did not come in a vacuum. Change doesn’t happen in a vacuum either.
For the protesters to say enough was enough, for years, they heard people like Ziyaye on the pulpit explain why things were going so bad and why people should demand better.
Through sermons and pastoral letters, good men (and now women, too) of the collar acted like the true prophets of the Bible; spoke truth to power.
The bad ones, the fallen angels and princes of darkness, the sycophants, the compromised souls, on the other hand, went on State media and showered evil praise; defended injustices; gave the church and God, period! A bad name.
Today, some of those are discovering that they were on the wrong side of history.
And the same could be said of journalists and civil society folks who chose to look away from the injustices or romanticise the devil. A few will find their voice today and rant at the new government’s mistakes, but theirs are chequered profiles.
They will only do so because their gods, like the biblical prophets of baal were chased from the high altars. But the truth is, even they are as much on the wrong side of history as cabal of tribal fat-cats and their beauty queens who plundered State enterprise after State enterprise, without either shame or pity for the suffering Malawians.
But the people of Malawi, as The Economist observed in bestowing this democracy, the 2020 country of the year tag, were resilient and steadfast when their democracy was under threat. They wanted to have a better country, to say no to impunity and give their children and future generations a chance to inherit a better country.
They handed the leadership button to new leaders who promised to always remember the sacrifices of the people; the judges, protesters, soldiers and generals, journalists and civil society. We will soon find out if the chosen ones are the correct choice.