The bitterest creature under heaven, according to Pearl Buck, is a wife who discovers that her husband’s bravery is only bravado, his strength is only a uniform and his power is but a gun in the hands of a fool.
Quite loaded a sentence this one is Blues’ Orators, but don’t panic; I will unload it.
Back in the day, summer was when Catholic parents sent their young ones to ‘Masonkhano’, SDA to Youth Camps; Yao and Chewa to ‘chinamwali’ or ‘gule wamkulu’ respectively.
Their expectation was that the children will return home stronger in faith or culture – whatever their cup of coffee was – en route to becoming responsible young adults ready to contribute to society.
Now, imagine that after sending your protégé to one of these jamborees, you learn that whilst there, the kids were split into two categories; one group comprising the promising ones and the other group, fools.
You further hear that your child was categorized as a fool and he or she is so hopeless that he or she was crowned king or queen of fools, charged among other things to speak on other fools’ behalf.
How would you feel?
Without fear of contradiction, I hereby posit that filled with disgust, you would feel humiliated, angry and frustrated; which is the normal reaction of any rational parent.
You know what? This happened to us recently as a nation.
Prof Peter Mutharika, whose presidency is in supposition and being vigorously disputed in the Constitutional Court, went to New York to attend the 74th session of the UN General Assembly.
While there, he was – to put it metaphorically – ‘crowned the king of fools’. For some reason, he was given the leadership of the world’s Least Developed Countries (LDCs).
Now, remember what you said your reaction would be if your progeny was in such situation?
Going by Malawi Broadcasting Corporation TV that is not our case.
“Malawi is privileged to be the chair of over 40 least developed countries and on this occasion President Mutharika will deliver a statement,” this is MBC online in “UNGA 2019: APM gets down to work”.
Since when did being crowned king of the poorest of the poor become a “privilege” especially – as I will demonstrate – when 80% of that poverty is self-inflicted through misplaced priorities and well documented corruption and larceny in high and low places?
While you are pondering this, let me move on.
HL Mencken said before a man speaks it is always safe to assume that he is a fool and after he has spoken, it is seldom necessary to assume it.
This seems to have been the case with our so called “privilege”. They know the saying that give a fool enough rope and he will hang himself.
Red with shame, I listened to Mutharika’s speech to see if there is any hope that we will abdicate from this dishonourable throne any time soon and I didn’t find any.
• Our poverty is due to structural impediments.
• LDCs are victims of global inequality which may worsen due to the widening digital divide.
• LDCs’ statistics spell doom and don’t paint a picture of countries following Germany’s or Singapore’s development trajectory as claimed by some in their drunken stupors.
• LDCs manifest widespread inequality.
• While acknowledging that LDCs must develop themselves, falling aid was scapegoated for underdevelopment.
• Whining that LDCs are not benefitting from the global trading system and that only 1.8 percent of global Foreign Direct Investment goes to LDCs.
• Five LDCs are in debt distress.
• Both LDCs and donors should double efforts to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and donors must deliver their commitments.
“We cannot wait any longer to change the current state of the Least Developed Countries. We must take action now or never! Action must be taken by us or nobody will,” Mutharika said.
“For the sake of humanity, let us act now!” he signed off.
While to an extent Malawi’s poverty is due to “structural impediments”; applying the Pareto Principle, I would hold the “structural impediments” 20% responsible and corruption, the lack of political will and ineffective leadership by the likes of Mutharika 80% responsible for LDCs poverty.
Secondly, while LDCs are indeed “victims of global inequality which will worsen due to the widening digital divide”; they are failing to follow Rwanda’s example of prioritising the development of internet savvy generations.
On this aspect, the LDCs are 99.99% to blame.
I was pleased however that Mutharika acknowledged that Malawi is not going to develop to Singapore’s level any time soon because based on the array of statistics he rattled, we lack the basics which no one is attending to in our rush to build stadiums and fund hooligans to beat up the Billy Mayayas of our world.
With respect to inequality in LDCs and Malawi in particular, no amount of aid or speeches will fix it; Malawi’s policies need to address this.
Again, the day LDCs and Malawi will develop is when they learn to begin using locally generated revenues (i.e. taxes) prudently. As long they continue stealing and expect donors to replenish what they have stolen, no amount of aid will develop these countries.
In addition, as long as they borrow so as to steal as was the case with Tractor gate or construct ‘soluble bridges’, they will forever be in debt distress.
While I could go on and on debunking Mutharika’s speech in his blind-leading-the-blind comedy, for Malawi to develop and abdicate this nauseating throne, Marcus Tullius Cicero is helpful.
“It is the nature of every person to error, but only the fool perseveres in error,” Marcus Tullius Cicero.
In other words, while erroneous policies are condemning us to poverty, unlearning and unshackling ourselves from mediocre policies will redeem us from being viewed as fools.
The converse is also true.
As Mutharika is slowly learning, the bitterest creatures under heaven are citizens who discover that their leader’s speeches are mere rhetoric, his promises are lies and his reign is only benefitting a few.
Blues’ Orators, I insist: there is no glory in the crown of fools.