When a sane person discovers that they are riding a dead horse, they quickly dismount, bury it and acquire a living one.
This common sense, as per Elly Twineyo Kamigusha, is uncommon in Africa. Misguided by our mostly aged leaders, we employ ridiculous tactics in futile efforts to make irreversibly dead horses productive.
Under the delusion that whipping the dead horse harder will make it industrious, we buy stronger whips.
When this fails as expected, appointing a committee to study the hopelessly dead horse is the solution the wise and dynamic leaders we are cursed with do.
Then comes a point when under the fallacy that the dead horse’s lack of productivity is due to the rider’s incompetence, we change jockeys. The new jockey of course fails.
Inspiration then hits us.
“Oh Blues’ Orators, how remiss of me! How can I forget the all-solving panacea for all difficulties: study tours!”
“We must urgently despatch a well remunerated delegation – flying business class – to some random country to learn how others are riding dead horses!”
“Brilliant idea Muulupale!” our leaders’ henchmen exclaim with jubilation, salivating at the prospect of pocketing a few more hundred dollars in allowances.
Of course, even this mother of all panaceas yields nothing. A horse, when dead as a dodo, is of no use.
Then yet another bolt of inspiration comes: a workshop at the lakeshore.
A full week is then invested brainstorming why and how the dead horse insists on defying a stronger whip, a change of riders, and a study tour to boot.
The week flies without a gram of success.
However, while perusing the Minister’s key note address, someone finds out that it is all there: in the speech, after thanking His Excellency and donors for availing resources for the lakeside excursion, the honourable Minister hinted that when all else has failed, shifting goal posts works wonders.
Hence, the workshop comes up a strong resolution:
WHEREAS the dead horse is unwaveringly refusing to be sensible and cooperative,
WHEREAS a stronger whip, a change of jockeys and a study tour have proved futile,
NOW THEREFORE, we the people, resolve to reduce our expectations. However, this should under no circumstances be construed, understood and /or implied to mean surrender. We will neither budge nor give up on the dead horse, until it moves! Patsogolo ndi chitukuko! [Forward with development!]
Back at the Capital Hill from the resort, some technocrat diligently undertakes the painstaking process of reclassifying the dead horse from ‘dead horse’ to “living impaired”.
Elsewhere, a few well-crafted press releases are disseminated and a group of social media touts hired and paid taxpayers money to go full throttle blaming the dead horse’s lack of cooperation on the opposition and the media.
The alphabet genius gifted us twenty-six options. When plan “A” fails, there is still “B”, “C”, “D” …. “Z” and we haven’t even reached the halfway mark.
Unapologetic and unfazed by failure after failure, we plough on.
We hire expatriate consultants to ride the dead horse, then we try harnessing several dead horses together to increase speed, providing additional funding to increase dead horse’s performance followed by adjusting expected deliverables for all horses.
“Call it what you will,” Nikita Khrushchev, a Soviet statesman who led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War and current Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin’s predecessor noted, “incentives are what get people to work harder”.
Fresh from Sochi, Russia and imbued with such vodka-induced wisdom, we go the whole hog and appoint the dead horse to a ministerial position.
“Thus incentivised,” we say to ourselves, “surely, the dead horse will move”.
Highly innovative as we are whenever we sniff public money, we go berserk.
The Treasury or rather the Minister of Finance allocates huge sums of money for the dead horse. Government ministries and departments profligately spend these funds all the while ensuring that a decent proportion of the expenditure finds its way into a bank account whose sole signatory are the powers that be.
We don’t stop there.
We hunt for any living horses showing promise and donate them to others as we did with Vision 2020. Now, when the very horses we have rejected begin to thrive as has the equivalent of Vision 2020 in Rwanda; akin to focussing on a speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye when there is a log in your own eye, we go overdrive into conspiracy theories instead of just dumping the dead horse we are indebted to.
Before I run out of space, let me quickly unpack all this.
If you ask me which, between Bullets and Nomads’ state of the art stadiums and serviceable schools equipped with internet for our learners is a dead horse; my answer is that the stadiums are dead horses.
Schools, equipped to reflect the digital era we are living in, are the living horse we should be feeding.
Why do you hate football Mapwiya? I don’t hate football. in fact, I very much enjoy and partake social soccer when time permits.
Again, if you ask me what we should be investing in between Malawi Netball Queens and the impotent “Flames”, my answer will be unequivocal: the so called “Flames” are dead horses which we should quickly “dismount and bury”.
Our focus should be developing netball infrastructure throughout the country. If we do that, in four to five years, we will have plenty of ‘Mwayi Kumwendas’ abroad, playing professional netball, supporting their people and inspiring other girls away from teenage pregnancies and early marriages.
You know what?
For half the cost of one of the planned stadiums, we could construct enticing netball facilities in all the districts and begin the overdue process of challenging our girls towards ambitious targets and goals.
This however is but a dream. Too preoccupied with dead horses and Russian vodka, our potential is going to waste.