Wednesday, December 23, 2009

December 23, 2009, Blantyre

I was driving in Blantyre City Centre at about midday and hey! The town was loaded with people buying and selling for Christmas. No parking space, No walking space. No greetings. Everyone is busy.

Then, I drove to the Chichiri Shopping Mall. Here, too, there was no parking space. Cars are bashing one another during reverse and parking. I met people from Zomba. I am not sure what people are buying. There are long queues on all bank ATMs. Even in the banking halls. There are long queues. It is time to withdraw.

I am doing something different. I have been busy paying normal bills. I have been busy depositing money into my joint account with my love.

But it is all interesting. I will go round again tomorrow to see people in town.

Does Malawi Need Local Polls?

Perhaps this is not a valid question because human rights activists have been hitting hard at President Bingu wa Mutharika, saying he is not showing interest in holding local government polls. Now the news is that Malawi will have local polls next year.

It is a game gone now. We shall have polls in 2010. But the question remains relevant: Does Malawi need ward councilors?

The answer, according to our cultural governance structures, is that Malawi does not need local polls because we have leadership from extended family to paramount chiefs. This is the best local governance structure but blindness to the local—and non-stop gaze at the alien—has made us think we need local polls when we already have governance structures that work better than assemblies.

The reason activists are giving is that the polls are constitutional, so must be held. Some add that councilors, elected in local polls, help in development. So, having councilors is a human right.

On the surface, it appears true. But looking deeper, Malawi does not need councilors, and the reason is cultural, not legal; it is practical, not theoretical.

Our legal setting, as per our Constitution, starts at an individual. Every person, says the Constitution. The individual is the centre of our freedoms. (I need my individual freedoms, of course; to decide what I want to do with my life so, long I don’t injure other people’s freedoms.)

Our social/cultural setting does not necessarily start at the individual level. It starts at family level. We are known by family names. Whose son/daughter is this? A question often asked when we do good or bad. Our identity, culturally and socially, is by our family. Next it is the extended family, from which come villages, headed by village heads.

And our governments recognise village heads. One piece of evidence is that they are on government payroll. The village heads work, and they keep society on a journey.

They know almost all families in a village. The heads know almost all people coming into and getting out of the village. My headwoman, for example, knows where I live (Blantyre), she knows where I work (TVM), and she knows my marital status. She knows the needs of people of the village because she is with them as her own. She talks with them daily.

The talking is informal and, honestly, informal meetings are the ones running the world. Why should we, therefore, have councilors when we have village heads who know their areas better than elected leaders?

Councilors have a term. Village heads work for life. What is it that councilors do that village heads cannot do in development?

Our challenge is that we have not studied our governance structures to make democracy flow in them freely. We don’t need to copy everything Western. Our cultural and social settings are very fertile to democracy. It is a question of accepting our ways of life.

But this is difficult when we have NGOs that make noise. Some—and I say some—of the civil society groups are headed by not se educated people who cannot understand the need for cultural identity in our governance systems.

The West needs councilors because they do not have villages the way we do here. Why should we have councilors? This is the question. Any answers?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Oh I Am Growing Old

Years ago, I celebrated my birthdays with vigour. That is no longer the case. Now I have to face reality that I am growing old, turning 33 today, 22 December, 2009.

Childhood is a mystery. I wanted to grow up and old. I would say I will be 14 next year when people asked for my age. Now I refuse to calculate how old I am. Thirty three? It can be scaring. I begin to think of a PhD proposal. I begin to think about my future. I begin to think about my parents. I am lucky; both of them are living and I as a parent.

Life is more complicated than we think. I am thinking about what to do on this birthday anniversary. Two decades ago, I would have been jumping up and down. How life changes!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Dark Wednesday

Malawi was all good news not long ago: a growing economy (the world's second fastest growing after Qatar), peaceful elections in May, 2009.

What else? We had our own problems but we never anticipated anything like the fuel shortage that is with us now. Let alone now when the subsidised fertiliser for this year has been done in time, a couple of months before first rains. We all relaxed.

Then, suddenly, power interuptions became common. Mobile phone networks elusive. Fuel dissappeared. This is Wednesday, 2 December, and the fuel situation is just bad. Vehicles are parked. People have no clue how they will travel tonight. It is all unbelievable. Not long ago, we could buy petrol or diesel any time, any quantity, knowing we would find the gas any other time we want it.

No more. This Wednesday is dark. But as we say, the darkest hour, the nearer the dawn. Let's all hope we will have fuel in the country on Thursday as the Petroleum Importers official has said in the media today.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Law and National Interest

Law is unfair by its nature, Dr Ngeyi Kanyongolo of University of Malawi's Faculty of Law once told me.

Not just unfair. Law is blind to national needs of Malawi. Take the shortage of foreign exchange, for example. We have no forex to import essential commodities. We know some of the economic causes of this forex dry spell. And we know the economic solutions.

One of them is to close forex bureaux that are not doing what economics demands for the growth of our country.

The result was a dilemma of law versus national interest. Even President Dr Bingu wa Mutharika cannot understand law (or lawyers as he said in a recent one hour interview with TVM). Why is law not for national development?

Perhaps this is an unfair questions. Law is for development. This is the reason our government has a Ministry of Justice. It is part of national development. No doubt about that.

The challenge comes in when individuals have to take the whole country into prosperity or poverty with their verdicts as happened last year when the courts reversed government closure of some forex bureaux.

“Last year, I said we should close bureaux to save the money but somebody in the courts said no. They said I am interfering with the Judiciary. I am saying the Judiciary is interfering with me. It does not make sense. It makes me mad. It makes me angry. In future, I will put stringent measures. I don’t care who says what. I am fed up,” said President Dr Bingu wa Mutharika.

Can the Judiciary interfere with something else aprt from its own professional interference (checks and balances)? The Judiciary is assumed the arm of government that does not make mistakes; one that does not need presssure from any sector of the world population.

But law is not the ultimate. Different parts of development work together. Law should respect solutions from outside itself. Law should learn to listen to other disciplines.

Shortage of Everything

These are tough times. Everything—almost everything, indeed--seems to be going into the wrong direction.

Fuel is in acute shortage. Long queues as I have never seen in my life have become daily sight now. People just queue without knowing when fuel would be available. Call it faith—the belief in things unseen.

That is what I did today, sent a driver with a 180 litre prado to a service station where he spent the whole day and returned on an empty tank. No diesel has been delivered. A real crisis.

Power interruptions are order of the day—they are normal, actually. Mobile phone network is unreliable. Some cotton farmers still don’t know what to do with their crop. It has lost value and weight.

Foreign Exchange is not just there; no money to import essential commodities.

Tough times indeed! One wonders what is in second term for Mutharika. His first term in office was tough but a thorough analysis determines that the first term was tougher than this one. The challenges of the first term from 2004 to 2009 were local, and that is dangerous. Your own people are more dangerous than enemies from abroad. The problems now are international (although local to some understanding.)

The internal challenges needed internal solutions and that was tough. But the challenges facing Malawi now have got more to do with regional and international issues and one of them, least thought and which you might reject, is climate change.

What has climate change got to do with our challenges now? The first challenge Mutharika
inherited was food shortage, an acute one. We had erratic rains and hunger was part of life.

As a way forward, Mutharika introduced a subsidised fertilizer programme, hoping rains would come in time. Rains have generally been kind with us. Little did we think that erratic rains have more to do with climate change than anything else. So fertiliser depleted our hard earned forex and here we are without the scarce commodity.

Power interruptions can happen at three stages: at generation (hydro power stations), distribution and reception. Most of our interruptions are from low power generation, resulting into power rationing.

The main problem is with the water body that generates our electricity, the Shire River, which comes from Lake Malawi. (It is also important to know that 80 percent of rivers that feed Lake Malawi are from Mozambique and they are drying because of climate change.)

We have weeds that are a real nuisance to the Shire River. Once rains come and water washes weeds from Liwonde, down to Nkula, generation is hugely disturbed.

A thorough analysis can connect the weeds and unstable water levels to climate change. This is a weird theory, anyway, but climate change is responsible for the fast spread of HIV, the virus that can cause AIDS. It is up to you to read more. I just wanted to make a point.

We are all waiting for President Mutharika to address these issues. In the short term yes. But what about the long term? His conviction in managaing climate change is the answer. If the President can lead Malawi and the region in mitigating climate change, history shall remember him as someone who had a vision for this small yet beautiful country.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Conflict of Emotions, Thursday, September 10, 2009

All these days I wanted to go back home. Now, it feels bad to leave Germany.

Am I alright? Didn't I long for home? Didn't I long for my daughter and my love? What is happening to me? I have just been asking myself these questions. They are valid questions. Things we leave behind do not only cause happiness. They cause sorrow as well, even if it might be temporary sadness.

Why do good things come to an end? That same question by Nelly Furtado. Put rightly, Why do all things come to an end?

I was used to Charles, a Project Manager (Africa) at DW Academy. He is a wonderful, wise man. Carla was a lecturer who exercised our minds. Christiane was a wonderful help throughout our stay here. She was our guide and proved useful, partly because she studied a lot of history and art in college, partly because she has a good command of the English language.

Alexanderia was a hardworker, making sure our stay was comfortable. She carries a listening ear, too. Pamela was just wonderful. We were beginning to like each other, to understand that humanity is one (never mind skin colour).

Just as this sense of one global identity was sinking deep into us, enabling me to survive the weeks I have been away from home, here I am about to board an aeroplane to leave for Malawi.

It feels bad. The closing today was emotional. And very helpful. To be honest, this has been a powerful course, a take off for me into a management flight. The 11 participants shared information and we were becoming one big family from Africa.

Just at that time when we were getting on with each other, just when we were accepting that we are away from home, just then, time to go back home came.

I am happy to go back home, to my country. No doubt about that, but I am also sad that I am leaving Germany, a place that has been my home away from home for four weeks. Germany: Thank you for your kindness. I am going back home to my beloved country. But Germany know this: You shall remain in my heart, almost always.

Good bye.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Things We Leave behind, Sunday, September 6, 2009

So, here I am. Sunday, September 6, 2009. Still counting down; no, counting days now. I am looking forward to the day I shall fly out of Germany.

No. I think the day I shall fly out of Germany is looking (staring is the right word I think) at me. And it feels bad, you know. Here I am. I have been longing for this day, haven't I? I was here bothering you that I was missing home.

Now it scares me to think of leaving Germany, a place that has been my home away from home for the past three weeks and this week, making it four weeks.

What is this we fear in things we leave behind? When I was flying out of Chileka, I was sad to leave Malawi behind me. And you know what Malawi means: the roads, the hills, the smiles, the markets, and everything else but first and above all, the people, and the loved one.

Now I don't know what is it that should make me feel sorry to leave Germany. Iguess it is human nature to feel sorry on parting with anything. Parting, as I am realising, can be a moment of two faces: one of happiness, another of sadness.

It is just human nature. Happiness because, in my case, I am going back home to see my country, my people, my life; sadness because, in my case too, I am leaving what was becoming part of me: the bed I have slept on for 19 days here in Berlin and eight days in other cities, the corridors I walked, the chair I sat on when working on my laptop, the meals I had, the friends from Africa I met, the friends from church who hugged me yesterday.

We spoke different languages but we got our comfort from serving one God, a God who does not respect skin colour, a God who has endowed us with wisdom to survive in this world.

And then the thought comes: As I am missing home, are people also missing me? Am I a source of happiness in my house? Or those who live with me are happy that I am away? Am I a good manager at work? Or colleagues in my department are happy that their head is away? Are they looking forward to the day I shall be back in the office?

Just thoughts.

It is hard to imagine the sorrow that we carry from things we leave behind. Yet some places cause less sorrow than others. I will feel sorry from leaving Germany, just for a moment. But the joy of going home is far greater than the sorry feeling of leaving Germany.

So I choose home. I choose Malawi, my home, my country.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Places In Between

This was a tough week as well. We left Berlin on Wednesday for Bonn, a long journey on the road, a chance to see places in between.

It is enjoyable to fly from one city to another. But you miss a lot of things in between. I have spent over 40 hours on the roads of Germany and I have seen a lot, heard a lot and experienced a lot. I have seen Germany.

From Bonn, we went to Koeln and proceeded to Hamburg on Thursday from where we left for Berlin on Friday, 290 kilometres, the shortest of the journeys I have made in Germany.

Now back in Berlin, it feels like home, a kind of home away from home. The count down continues, and this week, I think will be the fastest. I am not spending another Saturday here in Berlin.

By this day next week, I will be home, rather at home, if you notice the difference. I will be with the familiar that never gets me tired.

I will be watching the blue skies, and enjoying the heat. I hear it is hot. It is cold here in Germany and I can't wait to go back home to enjoy summer. But most importantly, enjoy Malawian smiles.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Eight Days To Go

Thursday, September 3.

I will be in Malawi by September 12. I have all the reason to believe I will be there; why not? Yet, if for any reason, I am not there, well, so let it be.

But such thoughts cannot stop me from looking forward to being back in my country. I am living for the day I shall be back in my country. I am living for the day I shall see Chileka, descend in the blue skies and admire Nkula falls and the tiny houses whose occupants have a big social network of humanity unlike in these Western lands where each person, it seems to me, lives for themselves.

I can't wait to beback home. And to meet the one my heart longs for.

September 2, 2009

This is Wednesday, just under 10 minutes before midnight. It has been a hectic day, just like Monday and Tuesday.

The difference is that I was on the road today. We travelled from Berlin to Bonn for some eight hours, including two 30 minute stops because by law a driver of any big car in Germany, must rest after three hours.

Straight in Bonn, there was no time to rest. We went into a visit of DW Radio. It is housed in a beautiful building adjacent to the UN office here.

Now I am in Koeln, some 20 kilometres from Bonn. I had 10 minutes between programmes. Tired, I opened my mailbox. And my love had written under the subject "Time for Prayer". This is an e-mail in which we share prayer items for everyday when we are away from each other.

She had bad news. Her cousin, Jennifer, has passed on in the UK. I should rather say our cousin because her relations are my relations first.

I called her up just before we left for dinner at the invitation of DW Academy (Africa Section). I called her up again after the dinner at about 10 pm. We had a wonderful chat of about 15 minutes. I told her that death is a coward. It takes those we love, thinking we shall not live without them.

But the weakness of death is that it teaches us to live without, to live without those we love. Death teaches us to love more, to take the place of those gone. This is my duty: to love my love the way her cousin would have loved her. It is my duty to fill the spaces left by those she grew up to see, especially because the cousin was my age.

I mourn with my love. Yet I admire my love's faith in the Lord. She told me the bad news in a rather familiar e-mail subject (Time for Prayer). She brought the strange through the familiar. She announced a thing that weakens our faith through an e-mail subject that strengthens our (my love and I) faith.

Such is joy brought by a wonderful lady into a man's life.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Invisible Walls

One interesting aspect about Germany, especially obsersed in those above 30, is their memory about the boundary between former East Germany and former West Germany.

This was the boundary, they say at every opportunity. My conclusion is that the wall might have been demolished physically but it remains in the minds of the people. Even the levels of development are visibly different.

I have been on the roads in what was the East and seen the kind of buildings they have; it is clear, they were behind in terms of visible development projects.

Most roads are new, meaning they have been constructed after the fall of the wall. (There is a development tax for the development of the former East which is still being collected 20 years after reunion. This speaks vloumes of the work that has to be done to lift up the former East to the level of the former West.)

Today, Sunday, I was at the part of Berlin where the wall has been preserved. It is not the original wall because it is being reconstructed for generations to come.

I walked by the wall. This is something impossible during the separation of the two sides of the country. It is being kept for historical reasons. And I think this is good. But there is a debate on whether or not keep the wall or turn the area into something else.

There were two walls, both constructed by East Germany, mainly to prevent its citizens from goingto West Germany where life was better in almost all senses.

The space between the walls was filled with sand and soldiers. The sand was meant to betray people escaping to West Germany, so that their footsteps could be visible. You know sand. The plan was that a person could not jump over two walls before soldiers, who guarded the wall 24 hours, could catch up with them.

But a human being is clever. People had ways of getting to West Germany. And they did. It seems to me that people cannot be oppressed beyond the limit they allow to be oppressed. Survival shall be there, always.

Counting Down the Days, Sunday, August 30, '09

This day marks half my stay in Germany. I am now at the peak of this long journey, kind of, you might say; I was climbing up, up, this mountain, this month-long mountain.

Now that I am at the peak, I can take a minute, relax and glance, no gaze, at the foot of the mountain, the journey. I can look down and count down the days to the day distance shall carry me back home. I can't wait. I am living for the day I shall go back home and meet the familiar faces, live the familiar weather, enjoy the familiar everything.

The strange here is becoming familiar. But it remains strange. This remains a foreign land and I am longing for home to see everything in the definition of home.

The count down has started and this is a source of joy, real joy, in my soul. You can join me in this count down, if you wish.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Mandela: Greatest Man Living Now

I have had thoughts about Nelson Mandela these past hours that I had to fish out this article from my archive and post it here. It first appeared in The Nation of December 6, 2006.

Mandela: Greatest Man Living Now

Statesmen cannot be wished into existence. The world is longing for one to unite Iraq. And, as Iraqis are finding out, that man is not a citizen of the war torn country but a South African.

South Africa will, in the coming years, host two global events: the 2010 World Cup and the funeral of Nelson Mandela.

Both events will attract thousands of people, thousands of journalists. Across the earth’s 24 time zones, millions will interrupt their waking or sleeping schedules to gather around television sets.

The World Cup is held once in four years and might come back to South Africa in the next five decades. The funeral of Mandela will be once and that is all. Tens of thousands will stand along roads to say farewell as he will be driven the streets on his last journey to the resting place.

Powerful men and women of the world will be at the funeral. They are people who cannot go to a stadium to watch football: presidents like Hamid Karzai, George Bush and Colonel Muammar Gaddafi; brilliant minds like journalists Richard Stengel, Time Magazine managing editor who once worked with Mandela on his book Long Walk to Freedom, and Fareed Zakaria, former professor of political science at Harvard University, now editor of Newsweek International, who reports for and oversees weekly production of eight editions of the magazine.

These people will be on reserved seats because of protocol. But Mandela would have reserved the choicest seats for ordinary people because it was for such that he took the road of a freedom fighter.

Thoughts of a funeral are awkward to some. But life is a journey and it comes to an end. The world is now busy walking the journey of Mandela which everyone wants to go on and on and on. Sadly, nature demands that Mandela’s life, like all human beings, be over some day. At 88 [he is now 91], he is looking forward to that day.

“It would be very egotistical of me to say how I would like to be remembered,” he said in March 1997. “I would leave that entirely to South Africans. I would just like a simple stone on which is written ‘Mandela’.”

Mandela talks about his death. He does not talk about his funeral—that is up to South Africans. In fact, he spends time thinking about the after-life as he hinted in one interview. When he dies, he says, and once in the next world, “I will look for and join an ANC branch”.

Not that he is obsessed with party politics but the man is committed to freedom and justice and sees the ANC as the practical tool to fight oppression, for that is what he has been doing for most part of his life and perhaps can’t imagine a just life; he thinks he would have some battle to fight, always.

The British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, describes Mandela as “not just the greatest statesman but the greatest man now living”.

Brown was writing in a November 13 special edition celebrating 60 years of Time Atlantic, years the magazine has covered—or, put rightly, uncovered—heroes. Of the magazine’s 66 heroes, Mandela was the first and was given two pages. Space is scarce in print media and goes with the value of a story.

Of course, three others were given two pages: the Beatles, Mikhail Gorbachev and Princess Diana. But Mandela’s story was the first. The best comes first in almost all media. This, again, speaks volumes of the value placed on this great son of Africa.

Mandela had a reason to hate white South Africans. He had reason to call them strangers and violently chase them from South Africa.

But after 27 years of imprisonment at the hands of the apartheid government, Mandela chose truth and reconciliation, not revenge, but forgiveness. He had been separated from his wife, to whom he wrote lovely letters; he missed his children. He went through the pain of being unable to bury his mother and his first born son, Madiba Thembekile, deaths that made Mandela to look back at his younger self, to evaluate his life.

“Her [the mother’s] difficulties, her poverty, made me question once again whether I had taken the right path,” wrote Mandela in his book, Long Walk to Freedom. “For a long time, my mother had not understood my commitment to the struggle.”

In such times, some people put up a brave face as if they have survived shame and embarrassment, but it is the soul that is bruised; the heart, not the body.

This was the case with Mandela. Questions without answers can be more painful than physical torture. Mandela wondered, without any answer, why his family was put in such an awkward situation. For long he had advised people not to worry about things they could not control. “I was unable to take my own advice,” he says. “I had many sleepless nights.”

The separation from his family resulting from a court case using discriminatory laws was enough to warrant a revenge after his release on Sunday, February 11, 1990.

Yet there were more challenges after his release from prison. He realised he had gained his freedom but he was yet to fight for the freedom of his people. Once the Inkatha members secretly raided the Vaal township of Boipatong and killed 46 people. No arrests were made. It was as if some people had no state protection.

“Mandela, give us guns,” said placards carried by his supporters at one rally. “Victory through battle, not talk.”

He had been tested for too long to carry on the struggle peacefully. But he said “peace”.
“It was because of the greatness of Mandela—and, especially, his refusal to hate or become embittered—that a multiracial South Africa was born, not in further bloodshed and catastrophe, but in peace and democracy,” says Brown.

To understand the importance of Mandela, consider Iraq, that helpless, failed state where sectarian violence has more control than the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Hundreds are dying everyday. No one is safe, not even the Prime Minister.

Aparism Ghosh is Time senior correspondent who has been reporting from Baghdad since the fall of Saddam Hussein. Ghosh knows life in the city. He has the experience of flying into Baghdad, too.

“I know what lies ahead,” he says of flights from Amman in Jordan to Baghdad.

It is an hour’s uneventful flying, followed by the world’s scariest landing—“a steep, corkscrewing plunge into what used to be Saddam Hussein International Airport”.

It is scariest because the pilot has to avoid being shot down by Iraqi insurgents. The plane stays at 30,000 feet until it is directly over Baghdad airport, then take a spiralling dive, straightening up yards from the runway.

“If you are looking out the window, it can feel as if the plane is in a free fall from which it can’t possibly pull out,” says Ghosh. “I have learned from experience to ask for an aisle seat.”
That is not all. The journey from the airport into Baghdad is a 14-kilometre drive on what is called the Highway of Death.

The Shiites and Sunnis are engaged in sectarian violence. In fact, sectarian violence is a political term. Iraq is in a civil war. Out-going United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan called the violence “worse than a civil war” in a BBC interview on Monday.

Sunni leader Saleh al-Mutlak has repeatedly told the press that Iraq’s political landscape has no giants.

“Not only that,” he said earlier this year, “but the political system we have created makes it impossible for such a figure to emerge.”

Politicians in Iraq have discovered that the easiest way to win votes is to appeal to sectarian chauvinism; they have little incentive to take the higher, more difficult road of liberal democracy which cherishes reason, liberty and freedom.

In July this year, al-Mutlak said Iraq could be united and the killings could come to an end. The country, he said, needed “an Iraqi Mandela”.

This is the gigantic size of Mandela. Even those in Iraq know the sectarian violence—or civil war, to be precise—can be ended by a leader of Mandela’s calibre; not George W Bush or Tony Blair, the so-called champions of democracy; not the Pope; but Nelson Mandela from South Africa, a two-hour flight from Blantyre in Malawi.

Mandela was born on July 18, 1918, and spent early childhood the traditional, old way in Mvezo, a tiny village on the banks of the Mbashe River in Umtata.

“From an early age, I spent most of my free time in the veld playing and fighting with the other boys of the village,” he writes in his autobiography.

Childhood lessons have a tendency to remain in people for life. They are lessons guarded by society which, sadly, are not cherished by the modern society of Malawi. Now socialisation or transmission of values is, in some cases, more from the electronic media (television, radio and internet) and housemaids than the family.

Children ought to play with toys, especially those them make by themselves. Children ought to play with clay to derive lessons from the natural world: let them run in the rain until it’s over (this does not cause malaria, the disease is caused by plasmodium transmitted by the female anopheles mosquito); let them play with clay and realise their skills.

In such engagement with nature, Mandela found virtues that make him. The statesmanship in Mandela can be traced back to about five years of age when he shared food and blanket with others.

He had become a herd-boy, looking after sheep and calves in the fields where he learned hunting. One day, his turn came to ride a donkey and it bolted into a bush of thorns. He was embarrassed.

“I learned that to humiliate another person is to make him suffer an unnecessarily cruel fate. Even as a boy, I defeated my opponents without dishonouring them,” he says.

You can see more from a mountain and from the perspective of years, says a brilliant journalist Jon Meacham. Mandela has climbed mountains and lived a long life.

He joined politics while studying in Johannesburg by joining the African National Congress in 1942. He has climbed mountains of books and time. He has been a life transformed from violence to peace. Yet he believes that when all channels of peaceful protest fail, violence is a practical option. This is what he did by leading Umkhonto we Sizwe, a military arm of the ANC.

Mandela has walked from the violent extreme of the world, balancing up on the way, and reached the peaceful end of life. He has shown that the end is more important than the beginning. Former president Bakili Muluzi missed that lesson. Fredrick Chiluba of Zambia missed the crucial aspect as well.

The years Mandela was locked up in his cell during daylight hours, deprived him of music and sunshine. He was denied things from outside. The familiar things we take for granted are what we miss most. But the character in him remained intact. The discipline is still in him.

He wakes up by 4: 30 am even if he went to bed late. He makes his bed—he still believes this is his duty, even when he was president. He exercises for one hour from 5 am and takes breakfast at 6: 30 am as he reads the days’ newspapers.

This daily timetable is changing now. Age is catching up and everything is becoming slower.
Yet his voice, weak and faint, is more important than ever. He prefers “we” to “I”. Thus he attributes all the honour given him to South Africans, saying that a man seen by all is standing on his people’s shoulders.

Mandela is now reflecting on his life and enjoying his childhood best moments—typical of old age. His greatest pleasure is watching the sun set with the music of Handel or Tchaikovsky playing.
He should really love that for he is the sun of the world, light for hidden, dark corners of poverty, disease, oppression and dictatorship.

It is now the turn of the world to enjoy watching the setting of Mandela’s life which is at the end of the horizon. He will go a happy man after leading the first South African multiracial government for five years, leaving the presidency at his peak—a lesson many have failed to learn.

Mandela worked with his immediate predecessor Fredrick de Klerk who was invited into a government of national unity. Further, Mandela has worked with his immediate successor President Thabo Mbeki.

The three formed a team that went to Fifa headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, to make South Africa’s case to host the 2010 World Cup.

South Africa is now gearing for the World Cup. The OR Tambo International Airport is being expanded and renovated. .

The fever is growing stronger every day. The economy benefits are visible. But the world does not know what will come first: the World Cup or the funeral of Mandela.

This Week

This has been a busy week, too busy that I could not spare a moment to update my blog. I felt sorry.

Sorry because this is a social contract: that you log on or visit the blog with hope for something new. And I know how bad it feels to visit and be greeted by old articles. But there were good reasons.

It was all because of the training I am undergoing here in Germany. I was busy all day Sunday and Monday. Tuesday, we had to leave for Nunberg and travelled for six hours on the road, seeing the real Germany.

I saw maize farms. What do they do with the maize? I asked our course manager, Charles, a brilliant Ugandan who is a German now.

"They us it here," he said. But most of it, he added, is bought by government and kept for donations to people who may lack the cereal. I saw cattle as well and spent time admiring their countryside, which is not as country as in Malawi, but still countryside.

On the afternoon of Tusday we visited several old cathedrals of Nunberg, a largely Catholic area in Germany.

Catholicism, as I have been learning, is not adored here. Most young people go to church once a year on Christmas and they disagree a lot with the Pope, especially on use of condom and contraceptions.

Wednesday morning was for more visits, and the afternoon for more travelling, six hours, to Mainz, outside Frankfurt.

I was tired that it was refreshing to start Thursday with a visit to Gurtenbeg Museum, this man who, according to European history, invented printing. (You should also read Indian and African history and decide where printing as we know it today started.) We saw the bibles he printed, 40 of the 70. Some are in other parts of the world.

The afternoon was for more educational visits to TV stations, just like Friday morning, just before we had eight hours on the road back to Berlin.

It was like a journey back home, everyone of us was happy to be back to Berlin. This is the city where we came first. This is the city that we know best. We know where to eat, where to buy telephone cards, where to walk and all that.

The other cities we visited were just part of a journey. We checked in at a hotel on Tuesday afternoon and had to check out on Wednesday morning. Tiresome. But it is all part of learning management.

Now I am back in Berlin and can sit here, at the lobby of Motel One to browse and update my blog. Internet is free here but very expensive in the hotels of the cities we visited.

I am happy to be here, very happy.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Separated by Sky, Sunday, August 23, 2009

This has been a good day yet tough. I have been indoors much of the time except for lunch and an undeground train ride.

I have spent time listening to some of my favourite music. I brought music from home: Kalambe River Jazz Band, Chikowa Band, Mike Kamwendo, Chechamba, MBC Band (the old one), Stonard Lungu, Tsoka Liyenda, Roots, and such music.

But I also spent time listening to music on Youtube. My favourite music from Michael Card, Steve Green and Fernando Ortega. All great musicians and great writers of music.

This train ride that took me to Alexander Platz was an experience. I went out and looked at the blue skies or what I want to be blue skies. And I saw a wide(less) space. The sky, I realised, can be wide, perhaps vast.

Then I felt a great loneliness. This sky swallowed me up from Malawi to Germany. Now it feels bad. This is my second week in Germany and I am missing my love so much.

It is tough because I am counting up to a third week before I start counting down to the day I shall see her. Four weeks can be a long time. I never knew the sky can separate people like this. I never thought the sky is this wide. I had never understood that the sky is this powerful. Perhaps some day I will write a poem (perhaps a long piece) on the sky.

But I have some joy. The sky does not take for good. I will overcome this and soon my joy and her joy will be full. We shall be together under a tree outside our house, looking into each others' eyes and smiling.

The sky can only separate. It is land that swallows for good. When we bury our friends and relatives, we know we shall not see them again, on the earth.

But the sky swallows to give back. The same sky that swallowed me at Chileka will take me back, down there, mid next month.

Saturday Afternoon

This has been a wonderful day, restful yet hectic. I was lucky to find a congregation that meets in the morning.

The people were friendly. They smiled at me and hugged me. The service was in German but well at the end of the day, God is one. I think I was getting the sense that God is love, that He loves us all.

In the afternoon, I went round seeing God's creation. Our team, part of it, was off to Potsdam, a city near Berlin (you would think they are one). It was by underground from my hotel just outside Moritz, then by bus from Alexander on to Potsdam where we were on a ship for one and a half hours, appreciating the beauty of the German.

We were on Havel River. Then connected to several lakes, small, not comparable to our lakes in Malawi. The sight of castles and palaces, some as old as 300 years was a comfort.

Potsdam is different: more green than Berlin, less cars than Berlin. We met a few men in some traditional regalia and they said they were performing a last ritual for a boy before he marries. The groom is supposed to sell some small things and raise funds just a symbol of hard work not necessarily fund raising, they say.

On the ship, we met another team, of ladies with a bride doing almost the same as the groom was doing. But this groom and bride are not for each other.

"This is for rural parts," said our guide. "I would not do that." I understood her. Germany is a country with 70 percent of women single. Life, they say, is tough and marriage is scaring. You see few children (babies rather) on the streets.

Even the government is worried because this means the working class is growing old and there may not be enough young people to replace the labour force.

German young people say it is expensive to raise children here. True. But I don't think that is the whole reason. Perhaps young people just don't want responsibility. They want to enjoy and do what they want. (Life outside marriage responsibilities can be funny but not the best.)

Later in the afternoon, as we arrived back at our hotel, we met a demonstration, a huge one, with police guiding the demonstrators.

There are elections next month here and campaign is hot. This demonstration was against one party that, according to people, is not for their common good. There were over five thousand demonstrators. Each of them with a beer, most of them smoking, and I wondered if at all there is a German who does not smoke.

They were drinking and breaking bottles on the tarmac. There was loud music from vehicles, really loud. This was a loooooong snake of demonstrators that it took one hour for them to pass by our hotel. Anyway, each group would stop, sing, dance and do all kinds of things.

I saw this with my eyes.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Best Yet To Come

Thoughts about my mother (77) and father (80) have come to me strongly of late. You are blessed to have both parents living at that old age, says my love.

I don't know why. But slowly, I am appreciating what they did to me. Now that I have made a name as a journalist and I have a stable income, I tend to think, "If it were not for mom and dad, what would have happened to me?" Honestly, I don't know. I would not know, after all.

I have friends who lost one or both parents. My best friend (he is as good as my brother) Bright Molande lost his mother about two decades ago. He wishes she were here to appreciate his loving wife, Naireti. (Bright, like many others, was touched by my entry on "Pain of a Loving Wife" that he wrote privately in appreciation.)

Near my home village in Balaka is Lucius Banda who has been open about the pain of poverty he experienced while young.

Lucius had what he calls a not so careful father. It was the mother who raised the children. Both Paul and Lucius (these are brothers) have sung about mothers in general, not necessarily their mother. But it also about their mother and Lucius is clear about that.

Lucius laments that this mother, who struggled to raise her children, died on the eve of his getting rich and getting a wife. He thinks his mother is hiding, hence he called his band Zembani Music Company.

This is the pain of being successful after the death of those who inspired us. It can be painful. This means those of us with living parents should be thankful and do all we can to make them and ourselves happy.

I went to primary school two decades ago. I walked 10 kilometres to school everyday. My mother, I remember, would stand there at times, gazing at me as I left home for school. Often, Iwould walk this distance alone because I was the only one from the neighbourhood going to school.

Mom, I think, was concerned with the bushes I had to pass through. Mom, I think, was worried with the rivers I had to cross, when it rained. Three of them: Mitengwe (a stone-throw away from home; Bondo; and Chimwalire (let it die) some four kilometrs to school.

Chimwalire! This is the river that killed ambitions of young people. They dropped out of school and started vegetable farming here.

But this river did not kill my ambitions. Thanks mom. Thanks dad. Thanks to all who encouraged me on the way, those I met on the via. They are many. (One day I shall list them in a separate article.)

Now I think mom was not looking at me as I walked to school. She was gazing at my distant future. Now that future is here. Zokoma ziri mtsogolo, she used to say, meaning the best is yet to come.

Now I have been educated and I am still educating myself. Now I have a job. Now I have been to places. Now I no longer walk, instead, I drive over the same distance of 10 kilometres to work, not primary school.

Now I am in Germany. Now I have a loving lady of my life. In short, I am enjoying. The good part of it is that mom and dad are here to see all this.

I don't know how I shall feel when they are gone. Kodi zokoma zija mayi ankati ziri mtsogolo ndi zimenezi kapena zikubwera? (Is this the best mom said would meet me or the best is yet to come?)

Saturday, 22 August, 2009

It is 7:15 in the morning and I have just finished talking with my love. She called from Malawi. Wonderful, isn’t it?

I am a Seventh Day Adventist and my plan is to go to church this morning and appreciate God’s nature in the afternoon as part of worship, a praise to higher powers called God, the author and sustainer of life—all life on earth and elsewhere.

But as I am learning, the congregation I was supposed to join meets at 2 pm. My task is to hunt for one that meets in the morning.

After a week’s hard work, I need some rest; after an academically high week, I need to remember that I am a human being, created in the image of God. It is very important. We all worship, whatever and however.

The weather remains cloudy. Not sure if it is going to rain. But it is warm and I am enjoying every bit of my stay here. Yet I miss home.

Then how come I am enjoying at the same time missing home? Isn’t this contradictory? Well, the human mind is complicated enough to live a contradictory life just as I have been thinking about church yet reflecting on the call from Malawi.

I will be back on these pages soon, when I have issues to write.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

I wake up to thunder and look outside to see clouds for the first time since my arrival in Berlin. The past six days have been all sunny, with blue skies, though not as blue as the beautiful skies of Malawi.

This evening, I am looking back at the day. It has been hectic, as the rest of the days. The eleven of us from Africa are not here on vacation. The Germans can have tight schedules. We have classes from 9 am to 1 pm for a bried break before regrouping for an afternoon session that ends after 4.

Today, we knocked off a little earlier because we had to go round Berlin on the bus and underground train. It was interesting to be part of city life. We have been all over the shopping centres. But that is not very important. For me, it is Parliament where we found long queues of tourists waiting to get in and have a feel. The residence of the Chancellor is another important place and other historical sites.

The freedom to take ppictures even outside the palace amazed me again. I was reminded of the pictures I took the kings castle in Norway. Just so simple. I long for a day I shall be able to go to gardens of Parliament in Malawi, lie there and relax and take pictures.

Our guide is always mindful of the Germany's history and always talks with reference to the past.

I love that because you can't understand the present if you don't know the past and you cannot plan the future without understanding the present. I worry that history is dying in our secondary schools in Malawi. We are so much fixed on science as if science operates in a cultural/historical vacuum.

But this is a lone voice. Who is else sees things as I do? If you think history is important as Kamuzu believed, then drop me a line.

Otherwise, I am tired and need some rest. It is raining, somehow heavy and I need all the warmth my beddings can provide. I hope to update the blog in the next few hours.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

20 August, 2009, Immediacy of Communication

This afternoon, like the rest of my days here in Berllin, I was on yahoo! messenger, chatting up my love in Malawi.

For a moment, I was amazed with this immediacy of communication. I could see that she is writing but I could still feel a delay: Is she still writing? Why not just send what she has written so that I read?

Then I asked myself: Where has patience gone? Twenty years ago and before that, I would not have been sitting on a desk, punching keys on a laptop, talking with anyone in Malawi. The means of communication then was mail, a letter through the post office.

It would take a month for a letter to leave Germany and reach Malawi. For someone like me, staying a month, I would not have dared write a letter maybe. I would have known I will be home by the time it gets there.

The situation is different today. We can't imagine life without internet. Yet there was no internet a generation ago. This technology has become so much part of life that we can't imagine life without internet.

As we enjoy this technology that has brought immediacy of communication, we must not forget the basics of communication, even language skills.

Even more importantly, when I will be writing the story of my life, shall I get these yahoo! messenger chats to include in a biography? Do we still have the joys that were brought by letters written by hand?

Those of us who experienced free hand letters, in own handwriting, and are now in the internet age, how do w e feel about the letters through the post office?

How much will internet keep for me? Not just in terms of storage and archiving but in terms of how much goes into it as opposed to a letter? We put so much in a friendly letter, that we can't write while chatting up each other on yahoo! messenger.

Technology is good, but for a writer like me, it is also superficial, a stealth killer of creativity. Yet I am benefiting from it, anyway, because I will be on yahoo! messenger again tomorrow.

20 August, 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tuesday, August 18

For Bright Molande,

The gods, this morning I saw things that must not hapen in Africa, our beautiful continent. I was on a train, this underground snake, and a young woman sat opposite me.

She was wearing a doubting face. She had a cup of hot coffee and was holding on to her bike which looked more important to her than human beings. I felt sorry for her. She was miserable. Not just because life is tough here, but because there is no soial fabric to sustain life. A man must care for himself.

The moment she got out of the train, she ran with her bike and jumped on it, as if rushing for nowhere. A companion is a bike, a dog, or a newspaper.

Life here is never enjoyable. This lady spoke with nobody on the train. Passengers were busy behind newspapers, novels, and nothing at all. This made me miss Africa, sweet home. In a train in Malawi, I would have been listening to a stranger telling me how he married his first wife and third wife.

All I mean is that in Africa I would have been engaged in some conversation, not just sitting there as if for no apparent reason.

Now that you and me know these thing and believe Malawi is best, let us shout to Malawians that our culture is the best.

Good bye for now.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tuesday Dawn

18 August 2009

It is 20 minutes to four at dawn. I am up on my hotel bed, thinking, writing and reflecting on my MA thesis, an indepth analysis of the dramartugical handling of the local and alien in the plays of Wole Soyinka and Dereck Walcott: Postcolonial Identities and Culture.

I am hungry and I love this because my favourite meal is breakfast and I will hammer it with all the energy and hunger.

Berllin has what the locals are calling the longest summer this year. I love it. And they love it too. Here, too, I begin to appreciate (again) some things we take for granted in Malawi. A typical example being the rising and setting sun as seen from most places in my home.

Here, in Berlin, you don’t see the sun rising or setting. This beauty of nature, the day star, is blocked by tall buildings as in all other cities I have been to: Oslo, Amsterdam, Washington and Jo’rburg; while Accra, Mombasa, Arusha, Nairobi and other African cities see the sun (and I speak as a witness), Malawi’s rising and setting sun is more inspiring for reasons I can’t explain.

Perhaps it is nature’s favour upon us. I will never forget the rising and setting sun in Cape Maclear. In the morning it rises up with energies as if being lifted from the waters of Monkeybay while in the evening, it is a weak star, drowning in the hills of Golomoti.

It is sweet and lovely. In Blantyre you see the sun rising, moving up slowly from behind some mountain, so too in most parts of Malawi. I miss this, I miss my love too.

The pain in my mouth is completely gone. The sores are healed. This is my disease. It attacks me when I am stressed up and the weeks before Germany were stressful.

But don’t you worry. I am fine and I will be fine throughout my stay here in Germany. Good to talk with you now. I will talk with you again, soon, especially as time and inspiration allow me to do so.
Monday, 17 August, 2009

It is 10:08 PM. I am in my room marking examination scripts for my University of Malawi students. I teach two courses at Chancellor College (Introduction to Journalism and Writing Skills).

There is a picture of my love on the bed. She is looking at me and smiling. She looks really beautiful.

But beyond that, it is wonderful to discover that she has a beautiful character too: open, thoughtful, and working towards happiness, always. I am really proud to be associated with you, my love.

Here, I am also thinking how you and me will spend Christmas. Let this be a special Christmas because, for the first time in my working life, I am free on Christmas. It is strange but I must accept this and find what to do on the day.

The phrase is: “I am all yours, take me where you want.”

The day has been nice. Got to know Germany more and more. The people here don’t forget that Berlin was once divided into two: West and East. There was a wall that symbolised the boundary between two systems: Communism on the East and Capitalism on the West. But the wall fell down and the people are one, once more. Yet they are mindful of their history.

Our guide did something wonderful today. She took us in the morning and did almost that in the afternoon but left us midway and said here is a shopping centre, do what you want and ride a train back to the hotel.

I was with my Nigerian friend Atiku Akiru, a young person with a reasonable understanding of postcolonial societies. I am yet to ask how far he went with education. But I am well pleased with his understanding of these issues.

I am listening to an interesting song.

Don’t be afraid
To feel this way
Lord gonna make you understand
It’s called faith

I am enjoying it all. I hope you are enjoying yourself as well and that you are eagerly awaiting my coming.

I love you and you are the one I am waiting to see.

Keep well and stay in touch.

Germany Diary

Sunday, 2:06 PM

Arrived safely this morning. It was nice from Blantyre to Jo’burg. Nice too from Jo’burg to Frankfurt Inter Aiport. This is where I had to walk a distance to gate A 16, a distance as if from Chilobwe to Zingwangwa to board a plane to Berlin.

By nine, I was at my hotel to be joined by six others later. As you know, I am tired and needed a hot shower and sleep. Yet that is not the case. I cannot check-in until three o’clock in the afternoon and you wonder at this service.

It’s the German way of doing things, says Christiane, our hostess. She has been to the US and was amazed with people’s willingness to help and quality of service.

Now I have just been eating at a restaurant outside the hotel. I was with my new found friend, for this period, Atiku Abubakar Akiru, from Kaduna in Northern Nigeria. I am back at the hotel, failing to connect my laptop to wireless internet and calling for more creativity into spending time and dozing on a chair. This is a test of pateince.

We have been given mobile phone cards with 10 Euores but some of us can’t call.

I can’t call, I can’t e-mail. I still don’t have a room, still haven’t had a shower 28 hours after my morning shower in Malawi. This is why I have just composed this piece of writing to be sent to you later.

I am writing and will write till I doze off. The pain in my mouth was so terrible this morning and it remains so. I have never had such pain from mouth ulcers. I can’t chew properly, can’t speak properly, my lips are dry and I have fever.

But I am well. Don’t worry about me. I will be well.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Power, Weakness of Distance

Distance is at once strong, at once weak.

It carries us away from our loved ones. It flies us into lands and places, new and familiar, far away from our homes. Distance carries us into places we have never been before.

Distance will carry me away from Malawi to Berlin in Germany this Sunday, August 16, 2009. I am going for a TV Station Management course lasting a month. It is a source of joy to travel, to see new places especially. Yet leaving the familiar, the everyday routine is also a source of sorrow.

I will miss my bedroom. I will miss my house. I will miss the road I drive on everyday, especially the delays caused by tracks on the Magalasi Road. I will miss my workmates.

But these are things and do not appeal to feelings and emotions. It is human beings who appeal to emotions and feelings. Human beings also appeal to reason and common sense. So my friends in Malawi will miss me just as I will miss plenty of them.

Still, as always, one person will be missed a lot more than everybody else. But at the end of one month, the same distance will carry me home from what was becoming familiar to the missed familiar, to the one I missed most.

Then, upon being welcomed by friends and relatives, I will prove that distance is a coward. It carries you away and brings you back to your place.

Story From My Heart

Some day, perhaps soon, I will tell you a story from my heart.

This is a story that is very personal yet universal. It is a story about a meeting of two lives that are blending into one yet they remain separate. A mystery, isn't it? Well, love is a mystery by nature; it is difficult to understand love, hence love can better be experienced than explained.

What is it that makes a man like me appreciate a girl, one particular lady, not everybody else? This is a crucial question. But does it have an answer?

Some day, perhaps soon, perhaps long from now, I will write about how two lives met and agreed to form one life.

This will be an interesting story.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Best of Pain

The most painful experiences of our lives, whatever they are, have potential to do two things; and this is universal.

Pain will either harden our hearts or soften them in which case we do not wish the same to happen to others. This is the choice I have made: to view every pain, every challenge with a critical, positive eye and get the best from it.

Years ago, I was listening to a BBC interview with Professor Chinua Achebe and he was asked whether or not he regretted the terrible accident which left him paralysed from the waist down.

No, he said. “If not me, who did I want it to be?” he asked. Good question. An accident, any accident, is bad news. No one wants it to happen to them. Here was a man, just like most others, enjoying a ride on the road until suddenly, in a twinkling of an eye, everything changes. He is injured, in pain, and his whole life changes, just in a fraction of a second.

Yet after months in hospital and coming out on a wheel chair, Achebe still carries a smile and accepts the accident had to happen to him. Rare. “If not me, who did I want it to be?”

But it is not easy to have a heart softened by pain, especially pain inflicted upon us by those who hate us. Yet the best weapon to fight our enemies—those who hate us for we must hate no one—is a smile. Hard. But it remains the best. Our smiles torture our enemies—again those who hate us, not those we hate for we must hate no one.

Life is supposed to be beautiful but pain disturbs our journey of joy. Worse than that, some pain is inflicted upon us by man. If we can learn to accept pain, natural or man inflicted, our hearts will be softened.

The world is looking for people with hearts that are softened by pain. Such people are rare but this generation needs more and more of such people. Are you ready to develop a soft heart from pain?

This is a question for you—and me too.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Pain of a Loving Wife

It is the desire of every person to love and to be loved. But loving wives do not bring joy only, they bring sorrow as well.

I have come across Lulu’s song Kumalembe, in which the persona laments the death of his mother. As I am writing, I am listening to the song. I have been a happy person until this song when I started feeling for my mother. I am worried. The pain is caused by her happiness.

Mayi mudachoka kale
Kumalembe ndiribe nako mawu
Ndimafuna mukadaona apongozi
Makhalidwe monga munkachitira

The persona has married a very good, loving woman who reminds him his mother who died long time ago. He is supposed to be happy, but the loving wife is also a source of sorrow: the loving wife reminds him of his loving mother who did not see her daughter-in-law. I wish my mother had seen my wife, laments the persona.

This is the pain of it all. It is a deep subject well tackled by Lulu, our young musician. It is not that the persona wants a bad wife. But how does he reconcile the desire to have his mother and a good wife living side by side and the reality that he has a good wife who reminds him of his late mother? How does the loving wife fill the spaces left by his mother, the visible spaces, the absence he is feeling because of presence?

My mother knows how to prepare thobwa and vegetables and meat and tasty nsima. Her wish now is to see me in the hands of a loving wife who would love me, care for me; one who would be lovable because my mother taught me how to love.

Those of us with mothers living do not only have them as a source of happiness, but also sadness if we are not yet married?

My father, now I recall, turns out to be a good cook as well. He is good at meat, especially chicken. He can roast a chicken and you wonder at it. Still on my father, he used to press my school uniform in the morning and let me feel the warmth of the iron. In retrospect, I realise that warmth represented the warmth of his love.

So, too, mom. She had her way of keeping food warm. I used to walk 10 kilometres to and from school and coming back at about three in the afternoon, I would be hungry and tired.

But the food she kept for me was great, always. She kept it warm and fresh and wanted me to be happy. She would give food, and tell me to eat at table. “When you rest my son,” she would say, “you should go to the grocery or market."

So, my day would come to an end like that, with an evening of another meal, prayer and study. Mom was good at telling me to work hard in school. My son, she used to say, you are my last born, work hard in school. It seems to me she left blank spaces because now I think she meant that I was a weak boy because I was last born.

She knew my wealth was in my brain and had to nurture it academically which is what I have done. I have walked a long road, rough and painful at times.

But I never lost time really. I ended up in the University of Malawi where I read for a BA in Journalism and now finishing my MA in English Literature. I have a good job that cares for me and my old parents. I am able to give them the best health care and provide for their needs.

Yet my mom's death will haunt me if my wife will be as loving as my mom. Her death will haunt me, too, if my wife turns out to be bad, just bad.

But it seems to me these things are better experienced than explained. Love is more complicated than we think. It is a source of happiness, yet a source of sorrow, a kind of sorrow that comes from happiness and ends in happiness.

Hopefully you will comment on this subject and we discuss it more and more.

Reason, Common Sense Versus Feelings and Emotions

The road from Blantyre to Zomba, if you know (or don’t know it), is small, bumpy, and winding, for whatever reason, like a man’s ways.

The bends are moments of feelings which can be powerful, the bumps like emotions which can be strong to the extent of taking man out of his way into something resembling the Blantyre-Zomba Road: bumps, corners and narrowness.

Can a man or woman, an adult like me, be excited with emotions and feelings and act foolishly? Yes. Can love make a person act on feelings and emotions, not reason and common sense? Yes.

But maybe it is not love in its real meaning. Perhaps this is not a valid question. The question should be: can love be rational, reasonable and based on common sense? These are difficult questions.

What is it that attracts a man to a woman? The answers could as many as there are men. But as for me, it is good height, firm breasts, flat tummy (no waistlines please), nice shape (can’t explain but I know what I mean), and the mysteries that attract me.

This is about appearances. But love is more than that; in fact, love is about something deeper than appearance. Hundreds of girls can fit into my definition of beauty. Is it that I can love anyone who looks as such? The answer is no. But I can, for a moment, be attracted to anyone who fits the description.

The difference—and this is an important difference—is that sexual love works on feelings and emotions. You see a woman and that sight leads to something else, even dangerous. This is the whole story: life has taught me that love must be based on reason and common sense, not on feelings and emotions. The difficult part of it is that common sense does not make sense.

So the immediate conclusion is that love can never be rational, reasonable and based on common sense. But this conclusion lacks common sense. This is the reason it is accepted by millions because wisdom from common sense is not common; it is wisdom that does not make sense and is rejected.

Why do you love the one you love? “Love does not make sense,” says Alfred Kanjere, a marketing executive in Blantyre. “The moment you know why you love someone, it is no longer love.” Perhaps it is business. Is it really that love does not make sense or common sense about love does not make sense?

Love should be based on reason and common sense. But this does not rule out physical attraction. It is very important. But most importantly, choice of a life partner must be a serious matter that takes effort. And for one to reason and apply common sense, they must know their prospective life partner. And knowing someone comes from talking, talking heart to heart: communication.

The challenge is that feelings and emotions are ruling over reason and common sense. People are in a hurry; weddings are in fashion. There is a wave of pressure on young people, especially girls, to marry within a given period. Beyond that there is fear they may become rejects.

The speed with which some relationships end into marriage assumes that the people involved work on feelings and emotions, not reason and common sense.

Reason and common sense realise that two people from different backgrounds need to talk over issues before commitment. Reason and common sense look at compatibility with the seriousness it deserves. Reason and common sense recognise that we do not marry an individual; instead, we marry a family, sometimes a village, even a country. Reason and common sense accept that marriage is about sweet days and sour, sometimes, bitter days. Reason and common sense appreciate that life is about weddings and funerals, safety and accidents, health and sickness, victories and tears. So, reason and common sense ask a person what diseases they suffer from. Reason and common sense discuss differences in faith, culture, and background.

Reason and common sense accept parting as a way to meet again because people who don’t part can’t meet again, anyway. So reason and common sense are at the realistic level, not at fantasy.

If you love a person’s personality long before physical attraction, just personality and nothing more or less, and nothing sure about it all, yet happy and confident, you are operating at the level of reason and common sense.

Back to what appeals to my sight (good height, flat tummy, firm breasts etc). If I meet a lady and love her before I see her breasts and tummy, how do you explain that?

Could I be cheating myself? Or operating at a higher level? The level of reason and common sense that put first things first. The things I like are part of physical beauty which can change with time and the danger is that if I stick to the qualities, I would want someone younger than what I have all the time. But the higher qualities (the personality) appreciated by reason and common sense are almost permanent.

Reason and common sense are important for the choice of a life partner (and indeed any friend) but also for the sustenance of a relationship.

We are living in a dot com age in which to be out of reach is as good as being dead. How do you feel when a person you want is out of reach? Angry? Yes, if you are on feelings and emotions. Reason and common will appreciate that technology can fail and that it does not cover all space and time. Patience results from reason and common sense, not feelings and emotions, not at all.
A person who accepts that a mobile phone can go off or can be out of reach, is applying reason and common sense.

Reason and common sense are crucial for our understanding that a person can be called into duty that prevents him or her from attending to something else. It is lack of reason and common sense that takes away patience. And the absence of patience is a source of trouble, great trouble that has put lives in real trouble. In fact, one can do a whole essay on lack of patience and its troubles.

Reason sounds unreasonable, common sense produces uncommon wisdom. But if you want to be different, operate at a higher level of reason and common sense, not feelings and emotions.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Coming Soon

A seminal piece on feelings and emotions versus reason and common sense. How these opposing forces work on our minds, adults and young alike.

Emotions can be powerful, feelings strong. And no one should blame you for seemingly succumbing to these forces. But everyone wants you to overcome feelings and emotions--however powerful, however strong--with reason and common sense. Strangely common sense brings wisdom that is uncommon.

Yet it is wisdom that saves. See you in this article soon.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Window of Hope

I have lost friends and relatives to AIDS. This condition has devastated us. AIDS has killed professionals who will never be replaced.

Those of us with some knowledge of the University of Malawi understand that AIDS has devastated the education sector. As students we could see a professor losing weight, his hair becoming pale, missing classes, or a course being missed by students because a professor (the only one who can teach that course in Malawi), is not well.

Hard times. In my village in Liwonde, people with money are gone. Business men who were flourishing in late 1980s and early 1990s, are all gone.

One reason trade centres like Ulongwe, Mpemba and Lunzu are dying is that great business men of these places have died. And of AIDS. Because every loose girl chased after them.

Now there is hope. Treatment is making parents llive longer and raise their chidlren, kids who would otherwie have been orphans. Awareness is also high. My generation is making brilliant choices. Prevalence is now at 12.5 percent in Malawi.

But the sweeter news is that in the age group 5 to 11, prevalence is one percent. This means that if we can raise this age group with meaningful education that helps them avoid AIDS, we can create an almost AIDS free generation for the future.

This is a window of hope, an opportunity but also a challenge. How do we protect this generation from catching HIV?

Make your suggestions known to me. Email me. I will combine all thoughts into a great piece which will influence policy.

Virtue Called Patience

Those of us who travel the world have one challenge to tackle seriously: Impatience. It is a legitimate condition.

We see super highways, great airports, and shopping malls that have everything from cinema to chapels. And we want Malawi to turn into these in a day. That, too, is my wish. I was with Bonface Dulani the other day on the Masauko Chipembere Highway in Blantyre. Bon had returned home to do some research in Malawi, Zambia, Namibia and a few other countries.

He expressed dissatisfaction with the new road, saying it should have been eight lanes because we need to think the future. True.

But upon reflecting on that, I discovered every journey has a starting point. And four lanes is our point of departure. If it were not for his Europe and US visits, Bon would have been excited with the dual carriage highway being constructed in Blantyre.

This is not about Bon. It is about all of us who travel the world. I once wrote an article about my dissatisfaction with Chileka International Airport. But I did not demand Heathrow in Malawi. I just wanted decent terminals including clean toilets.

Chileka was renovated. It looks better than it was though not what we may want. But in a country that had food shortage, infrastructure was not a priority. People had to eat first. And you know hunger is a killer.

The US and Europe spent years building. We cannot build in decades when they built in centuries. But do we really have to wait for over a 100 years? No. We need to move with speed.

One challenge is that Malawi was neglected for sometime. Now we want to do all that was supposed to be done in 30 years in five years. Impossible.

It is also unfair to demand everything from President Bingu wa Mutharika or whoever comes in 2014. Let us move slowly, step by step.

I have come to realise that this is reality. Now that I am in Egypt, admiring this desert land that is well built and being made green, I can only hope we too will make it some day.

It takes patience. That is the pain of it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Malawi In Egypt

I am in Egypt. And it is hot, very hot, here in Sharm El-Sheikh Resort, a city on the Red Sea, Sinai Peninsula to be precise. Over 40 degrees celcius.

There is peace, unimaginable peace that I wonder why, just across the sea and the mountains, there is gun fire everyday between Israel and Palestines.

There are 45 heads of state and government here in Sharm El-Sheikh, three kings and several prime ministers and their delegations from the 118 member Non-Aligned Movement, with 53 members from Africa.

President Dr Bingu wa Mutharika is here, too, to attend the 15th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement of NAM.

I have been talking to Egyptians in the two days I have been here and I will keep talking with them until I return to Malawi. They are nice people. They know about Malawi. Tea, we drink tea from Malawi, they tell me. We smoke tobacco from Malawi, they add.

And football. Great football in Malawi, they say.

I can talk with them in English because I don't speak Arabic. And few of them speak English. Those who speak English, cannot construct proper sentences but they are moving and developing, feeding themselves in a desert. I wonder why we were starving in Malawi when we have good soils and plenty water.

Back home in Malawi, we say he or she who has not passed English does not have a certificate. Why? English? A foreign language being a measure of our education standards?

I know this is a crucial language for our existence in a global world. But well, maybe, we have exagerated its importance.

What is important though is that Malawi is known among Egyptians. I am happy with this and I am working on a long travel piece which you will have before end of July. This article is a discussion of matters life in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Don't Hit That Carton

A couple of weeks ago, this day, a friend was driving on the Robert Mugabe Highway (what was once called Midima Road) and branched off the road somewhere after Nguludi Turn Off to Phalombe.

It turned out to be a wide earth road, dusty and that, too, is the joy of driving in the rural corners of Malawi.

Just about a corner, somewhere, a boy of less than 10 years was playing on the road, pulling a carton and my friend slowed down; the boy ran away and left the carton on the road. My friend wanted to drive over it. (It was a carton, after all.) Then he thought otherwise, went aside and avoided it.

And something told him to look on his mirror. He saw that boy ran back to the road, bowed down and lifted up something from the carton.

My friend was interested. He parked on the dusty road and came out of the car. He was shocked and froze. To this day, my friend does not know the name of the boy, the village and the place because he did not have the courage to ask. He did not ask anything. He only listened to what a girl, a little older than the boy, said.

This is what happened. The little boy's mother had gone to the field, perhaps to harvest maize or something else. She left a baby with the boy of about 10. And this boy decided to put the baby in a carton and pull it on the road to make the baby enjoy, like riding a 'car' you might say.

The carton that my friend avoided had a baby in it. If he had hit it, he would have killed, I believe, the baby. He would have been lucky to avoid it completely or to have nothing of the car's under part scratch and kill the baby--if not the tyres.

Upon learning that there was a baby, my friend froze, hence he did not say anthing. He only heard a girl say the boy's mother had gone to the field and left the baby with this boy. By the time more women came to see what had happened or what had not happened, my friend had enough courage to drive away, thinking, yet failing to understand what had happened.

All he could say when we met was: Don't hit that carton. This is rule number one when driving. I hope you get the sense.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Corners of Malawi

I am in the corners of Malawi talking with people on matters life, matters politics, matters religion and matters everything.

I will be posting some articles of my impressions and analysis in the corners of Malawi. The experience is wonderful and I hope the articles I will write will be as wonderful. So, dear readers, I appreciate your patience.

These are exciting times.

Kind regards.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Wisdom of Nature

Shire is a wonderful river, one that flows out of Lake Malawi into the Zambezi River.

The river came to me this week as I thought about the idea of end of things which I discussed months ago on this column. You remember the discussion on Nelly Furtado’s song, All good things: Why do they come to an end?

The Shire starts in Mangochi. It flows out of Lake Malawi somewhere after the well-known lodges and resorts. The river flows on past Mangochi Township to the benefit of all residents, especially those of M’baluku, a densely populated village whose people leave taps and boreholes to do domestic chores on the river.

After the township, the Shire River flows down, like a giant elephant and suddenly it swells into a lake: big, vast body of water.

The river that was small turns into a lake, a source of livelihood for thousands who patronise fishing centres of Chimwala, Mtanga and others. Just after Lake Malombe, the Shire River gets back to its old-self, just a river and the troubles start. Namasupuni chokes the river from upland Mpale down to Liwonde.

This part of the Shire is a sorry story. It is the part that receives fertile silt from upland where erosion is rampant because of deforestation. This part is also the source of trouble for power generation. We all know what namasupuni is doing or undoing to power generation in Malawi.

But the Shire—and this is the beauty of rivers—flows on. It does not stop. Never. The Shire flows on and on and on down through Matope and Zalewa in this middle part of the river that turns small through the hills of Shire Highlands.

The mighty Shire that swells into Lake Malombe turns into a small body of water, falling over high ground. Gorges are also present on this part.

After the hills and the gorges and the turns over rocks, the Shire River turns wide in an area called Shire Valley (not the mistaken Lower Shire which has bad connotations). The Shire meanders and turns into a number of streams that form fishing grounds. This lazy part of the Shire is also a source of fish, a source of potatoes and vegetables.

Finally, the Shire River flows down, slowly, gently and lazily with some hopelessness. But it ends into a larger body of water: the Zambezi River.

This is a great lesson of life. Life, every life, is like a river. It ends into some body of water, larger than the river itself. The lesson is that no matter where a river passes through, no matter what life sails through, it shall end in something big. This is the nature of life.

The stones, the rocks, the bends, the falls, the namasupuni and everything else are all part of the journey into something big. Hold on onto your vision.

Of course, I am mindful that there is a river in Botswana which ends into sand of a desert, just like that, a whole river disaapearing into sand. Call it a sea of sand.

When the Zambezi flows into the Indian Ocean we know we shall have rains in Malawi because the winds that bring rains here come from the same ocean. So, the same water that came from the Shire comes back to Malawi as rain and flows down again into Zambezi and into the Indian Shire.

Perhaps the idea of an end sung by Nelly Furtado is an illusion. Perhaps the graveyard is an illusion of the end. The river does not exactly end in a sea, and that is why it never ceases flowing on its long journey from the mountains: the river will always return to the mountains after its rest in the sea.

The sun goes to another world beyond sunset, we sleep because the day has ended but the same sun wakes us up. We always return. But I cannot count the whole wisdom of nature.

Water is wise. It knows where to go. It is never told which direction to flow into, no. It is like wind. It blows into the direction of its choice. Wind goes high and comes down. Water climbs mountains and flows down. This, too, is the wisdom of life.

My plain view is that something called an event is about to happen. My other plain view is that it is better to come down naturally like wind or water than to be pulled down shamefully. I have spoken.

Moving to TVM

Dear Visitors of the Blog,

I am moving to TVM as Controller of News and Current Affairs on April 1, 2009. This is time to face new challenges. As you know TVM, has challenges in this age of growing technology, when people can go to the internet, get entertainment from ipod etc.

I would like to be part of the team that is bringing a new life to the country's TV Station. Plans for a website are underway and you should access, I think sometime this year, pictures and sound on the net.

If you have any message for me, do not hestitate to write to the e-mail address above or

Kind regards.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Beautiful Flame That Kills

Author's Note: This story appeared in The Nation on July 16, 2007, but it is still on high circulation sometimes with changes to suit people's political biases. I hereby provide the original piece for your reading. If the story engages you in any way, feedbackis welcome at the e-mail address above or

He is so attractive, an irresistible, little flame that attracts moths. But it’s a flame that suffocates and all who don’t realise early enough, die.

Big Bullets (BB) seems to be a cursed football club. It had plans to go commercial, yet it has stayed three seasons without sponsorship, the very grease to roll the club to commercial levels.

Not long ago, BB was Bakili Bullets. It was the country’s richest team and the only club in recent years to spend a month training in the United Kingdom; visiting club houses and admiring their commercial status. Bakili Bullets wanted to go the same way. Then it seemed possible. Then it really did; not now, but then.

"Those were good, old days," recalls sports journalist Garry Chirwa. "I travelled with the team to the United Kingdom and we were booked in a four-star hotel in Birmingham. Every member of the 40-or-so delegation was getting a $50 daily allowance."

Such, says Garry, was the luxury and pomp that club chair Hassam Jussab had the cheek to arrange for a friendly match against crack English Premiership side Aston Villa.

The game failed but the players had something to cherish and Garry has fond memories.

"The players went to up-market shops where the likes of Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand buy expensive designer clothes. When we were returning home, the team raised eyebrows at Heathrow Airport because of our excess luggage that even British Airways staff doubted the team’s ability to pay for the baggage. The airline was surprised later on to learn that money wasn’t an issue at all. The excess baggage had been paid for in full," says Garry.

The romance between Muluzi and the Bullets started on May 25, 2003, a year before the 2004 General Elections and was meant to last five years. It was an attractive package, somehow, for a team that was desperate for a sponsor.

There was a K15 million sponsorship. This was not much but the former president also promised to construct a K15 to K25 million stadium for the club. And on the day the sponsorship was launched, BB supporters from the North used K200,000 donated by Muluzi to travel from Mzuzu to Blantyre.

The team participated in the Confederation of East and Central Africa Football Associations (Cecafa) tourney and showed, for once, what good sponsorship does to anything, even football. Bakili Bullets also carried the former president’s name into the Caf Championships.

That, however, was four years ago. Today the club is, perhaps, the poorest. Today the land near Soche Technical College meant for the club’s stadium lies idle, as it has been always. Today, Kinnah Phiri, the coach the team attracted from Swaziland has returned into foreign lands in search of greener pastures. Muluzi withdrew sponsorship a year and months after the 2004 elections. Perhaps he wanted to use BB for campaign and it worked.

Since then, the club is struggling for survival, not even bare existence.

The days the club travelled from city to city in the UK are over. The days the team took supporters to cities in the region to cheer the team when it joined Cecafa and Caf Championship are no more. The days Muluzi promised players K75,000 each for a win in a game against Zambia’s Zanaco in Cecafa are gone. The days BB played teams like Enyimba of Nigeria are fast being forgotten.

On July 1, 2004, Muluzi gave BB players K100,000 each for performing well in the Caf Championships. BB was among the last eight teams. That was July 1 and on July 31, 30 days later, came a different headline: ‘Bullets in financial woes’. The team was failing to pay its coaches for six months, failing to settle transfer fee balances for nine players and failing to pay rental for using BAT ground.

Muluzi had spent K60 million and perhaps was tired. By August 2004 headlines on BB had changed from ‘BB to camp in UK’ to ‘BB fail to camp’ and this was not in UK but Mulanje. The club could not afford to lodge in Mulanje.

The former president was becoming angry with club officials and threatening to withdraw sponsorship not only from BB but from the Bakili Muluzi Super League. The club was being haunted by debt collectors that by August it was asking the then Sports Minister Henry Chimunthu Banda for money to participate in Caf champions League.

Then followed chaos. Players firing club executive committee, a meeting with sponsor—or the former sponsor, because Muluzi was no longer bank-rolling the club—failing.

Saturday 25 December, 2004, was supposed to be a happy day: end of week, Christmas and about end of year. But the headline in Weekend Nation was bad news: ‘Total chaos in BB’. January, 2005, was biting hard and BB’s patience with Muluzi was wearing out. He wanted audited accounts. He promised a starter pack but nothing came forth. It was money from player sales that was running the club.

By April, BB had a K9 million debt and in July the club cut ties with Muluzi, who claimed to have been taken by surprise. In November 2006, the club was rebuffed by President Bingu wa Mutharika.

Some months ago, two twin brothers who graduated from the University of Malawi a couple of years ago decided to take over the club in a relationship that was full of doubts and sour moments.

Those who love education wondered why the Msiska twin-brothers could not donate the K5 million they spent on Bullets to the Polytechnic Library to purchase books. The Cifu group was forced out of the deal by the club’s executive that wanted to deal with Petroda, a petroleum company that promised a K20 million sponsorship.

And just last week, the deal with Petroda flopped. The club remains poor with an uncertain future. Or, put plainly, without a future at all.

Big Bullets is now like torn curtains. Who has finished the Big Bullets? Perhaps the right question is: What is in Muluzi that finishes those who work for him (not with him) as the BB did? The club is just one example of how Muluzi appears attractive like a beautiful flame at dusk, attracting all kinds of insects longing for light soon after sunset. Yet this flame kills insects. And Muluzi has worked like that flame, killing the political or professional life of people and institutions.

Chakufwa Chihana

This late icon who fought for democracy in 1992 was a giant until he worked for Muluzi. He died politically long before his physical death in 2006.

Once Muluzi got into government in 1994, Chihana’s Alliance for Democracy (Aford) formed an alliance with the Malawi Congress party (MCP) to oppose the United Democratic Front (UDF) within and without the National Assembly. It was a scaring alliance.

"They have a hidden agenda," said Muluzi who later on invited Chihana into an alliance with UDF. Chihana was made second vice-president. (He remains the only Malawian to hold this position and it seems it was created for him and him only.) Some Aford officials, too, were offered Cabinet positions.

The whole story is that the political marriage between Aford and UDF lasted 20 months and Chihana lost some of the cream of Aford. The two parties remarried in 2002 when Muluzi was campaigning for life presidency disguised as Open Terms Bill. When this and the Third Term Bill failed, Chihana was used to campaign for President Bingu wa Mutharika.

By the end of 2004 Chihana was a spent force, forgotten and vanishing from the memory of history. He had been used and almost dumped and by the time he died, it was simply physical death, politically he had already been killed by Muluzi—the beautiful flame that burns all who carelessly fly close to it.

Gwanda Chakuamba

Once he came out of prison in 1992, he was a rising star, even when he joined the MCP to work with first president Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda.

People had embraced multiparty democracy and forgiven the past in which Chakuamba worked. He was a revered opposition leader even as late as 2004 when he led Mgwirizano Coalition. That status changed when he formed an alliance with UDF soon after the elections.

That, then, seemed a noble cause especially when he became Minister of Agriculture in Bingu wa Mutharika’s administration.

But when Chakuamba was fired and begun to associate with Muluzi on impeachment, that became the first step on the last mile of Chakuamba’s political journey. Take note: the last mile started with associating with Muluzi, the beautiful flame that burns.

Now Chakuamba does not have political wings. They have been burnt by Muluzi. Now Chakuamba’s political mobility is on the shoulders of Muluzi.

Now Chakuamba is failing to make sense of the budget-Section 65 deadlock, two separate issues that the UDF and MCP are connecting. (It is also not wise to blame all opposition MPs as if they are talking nonsense on this: some, like Mark Katsonga, Justin Malewezi and Aleke Banda have offered sober thoughts on the impasse. These, too, are examples of people who worked with—not for—Muluzi and survived.)

The story is that once there was a politician called Gwanda Chakuamba. He worked with Kamuzu and remained strong. He worked with Mutharika and stayed above petty politics. He is working with Muluzi and has become a spent force.

Khwauli Msiska

Does anyone remember this name? He is remembered for one thing: that he moved the brazen Open Terms Bill in July 2002.

Immediately his name was in international media outlets and for a bad reason. He was, of course, rewarded with deputy minister position. But that was his end. He loved himself more than the country and Malawians know the place of such people: the political dustbin.

This is where he is now, forgotten and not remembered at all. He flew close to the beautiful flame that burns.

Lucius Banda

Malawi, like all countries, is a place of role models and bad examples. There are children born with a silver spoon in the mouth but who squandered all the money left by their parents, sold businesses and are now living on alms.

And there are those born in extreme poverty—like Lucius—who worked hard to become millionaires. (Do not be surprised, most of us are millionaires: just value your car, sofa, TV, beds and you will find they add to millions.) Lucius was a model not for people of Balaka only, but for all Malawians.

Once he joined politics, he was getting popular and Balaka had hope that one day a senior Cabinet minister will come from around Sosola.

What was wrong being a famous musician without an MSCE? He worked with Muluzi for years and later went a step ahead to work for Muluzi.

The flame had become too beautiful to be avoided. He had lost sight. There he was burnt. He needed an MSCE to contest for a parliamentary seat and the way to get it was not to sit (resit?) for the examinations, but to get a certificate with good grades.

Where is Lucius today? If he were not a musician who built a reputation for a decade, he would have been forgotten like Khwauli Msiska.

John Tembo

Fondly called JZU, Tembo is the longest serving MP in the Malawi National Assembly. This, though, seems to be the last term in Parliament for the veteran politician.

The reason is simple. He is working for Muluzi. Section 65 was there when Mutharika formed a coalition government with Republican Party. But Tembo didn’t make any noise. What has happened to Tembo that he should now want the Constitution followed?

He is working for Muluzi. Both Tembo and Muluzi are not happy with Mutharika’s performance. This is surprising because they were supposed to be happy so that they inherit a healthy economy in 2009 when they win as they claim.

The two were talking the same language at their rallies 10 days ago. This is not the first time Tembo has worked for Muluzi. The leader of opposition voted yes to the Open Term Bill. Muluzi had just bought pieces of cloth for the MCP women’s league. Now Tembo is working for Muluzi again to trouble the Mutharika administration.

It is funny because Mutharika has never had a peaceful time since he became President yet he has been performing. By fanning trouble on his government, the UDF and MCP are making Mutharika perform even better than before. Apart from the political turbulence, Mutharika had a sick wife for two years and he knew she was dying. But even then the office of the President was as functional as if everything was fine.

Does JZU believe Section 65 is the best weapon to make himself popular among Malawians? This is the faulty thinking of Muluzi.

There are those who believe Muluzi is a good public speaker. Right. But his actions scare away people. While he was president, he collided with the NGO community and Malawians. Thousands chanted against third term campaign.

The same people who were against Muluzi as president are against him as retired president. His policies remain for personal gain not for the people of Malawi. Tembo has fallen into this trap and is fast losing popularity—the end of a man who has been in politics for decades.


Muluzi is like a candle that is about to burn completely and he knows that; which is why he has become a beautiful flame to kill the political or professional life of hundreds before he is forgotten by the memory of history. It does not matter your profession. Be it a lawyer, journalist, football team, politician, institution—whatever, your life gets chocked once you work for Muluzi.

Big Bullets can testify. Or ask John Chikakwiya.