I will not be a party to the fear bandwagon. Not in this life, living in this body, and probably not in the life to come.
In fact, I will not even be a spectator of such a bandwagon, and will not spend as much as a smidgen of my time on anything associated with it. My humble, but strict upbringing (by a single ‘fiery’ parent) have firmly planted in me a strong belief that it is better (under any circumstances) to speak out over matters of importance, and be ‘sidelined’ or if you like ‘ostracized’, than to be silent in the face of what is clearly wrongdoing, for popularity’s sake or otherwise.
Call it conviction, or whatever else…but that’s my stance. And it’s not about to change any moment soon.
I was in Nottingham 2 weeks ago, visiting some friends, and one of my friends’ younger brother brought up the topic of Malawi Ace. According to him:
(i) my platform was not high enough, but it would help if I was driving an expensive Mercedes-Benz, and lived in a big house ????
(ii) that I was in danger of being ‘eliminated’ if I criticised certain people in strong terms, that it has happened before, and it will happen again, and I had to be careful not to fall victim. ????
As you can imagine, I didn’t take both pieces of advice particularly kindly, especially because he has said certain other things in the past which have been equally shallow, and somewhat inflammatory. This is a guy who prides on having studied at a good university, in England, and is halfway through a doctorate.
So, I pointed out to him that in a consumerist, commodity driven, celebrity worshipping and money obsessed society in which we lived in, I sympathised with people like him, who had clearly fallen prey to a global media machine whose sole purpose was to get people to spend — whether they had the money to spend or not — by bombarding them with survey engineered, guru tweaked, sycophantic tosh. And that his thinking that advice was only worthwhile if it came from a wealthy man was not only wrong, but hopelessly misguided.
The anomally in such thinking can probably be most uncovered by a Scottish proverb that goes: “Do not judge by appearances, a rich heart may be under a poor coat”
Certainly, like many other people, a lot of the advice I have received in my life did not come from a pinstriped bod who drove a McLaren Mercedes and lived in a Castle. Definitely not. While I know a number of people who drive a Mercedes or other expensive car, most of the advice I have received has come from ordinary and well-meaning folk: friends, strangers, extended family members who have insight, experiences or knowledge over a particular issue(the “credentials”), or life in general, and know the substance in their words. So it really is unfortunate that someone like him, an African with parents who happen to be in positions of authority, and who could be said to be ‘educated’, and presumably should know better, doesn’t as much live up to that standard. Maybe its an issue of the African mentality many people have cried foul over; Africans looking down on, or being condescending towards other Africans, for all sorts of complex reasons. I’ll leave you to be the judge.
On the second point, and not to be idealistic or blow my own trumpet prematurely, I will quote Edmund Burke:
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing “
As someone who spent 8 years of their life reading and studying history, you can probably imagine what I found in this context, in the wars from the American War of Independence, Napoleonic times, the World Wars, to the Cold war. Many good men (and some very evil ones), doing a lot of nothing (or just being plain evil).
And as an African, there were the years in which I found myself probing the thousands of years worth of African history, from pre-colonial times and the rise and fall of African empires, to the not so distant past: again, a similar story, a lot of sensible and good men, doing nothing, or doing the wrong things.
Then, there is the present, governments that pillage state resources with impunity, sometimes in collaboration with corporations who have no responsibility towards the local populations, Machiavellian donors who have to appease “special interests” when providing aid, private donors who can’t see why they have to give developmental (as opposed to hand-to-mouth) aid directly to the people (and not to corrupt African governments) to enable them to be self-sufficient, religious fundamentalism, scapegoating, and such like. The list is endless.
So, as long as there is life in me, as long as I can think for myself, and write from my deepest convictions, as long as I can analyse society’s dynamics and the challenges faced by my own people, in Malawi, many of whose problems are artificial, and definitely not their own making, as long as I have the time to do so, I will continue to express my convictions in the strongest terms possible, without fear, irrespective of what anybody else thinks (wherever and whoever they may be). But on the other hand, I’m not going to comment on issues I have no experience, nor those on which I have not studied, thought of or considered in any great detail. That would be unwise.
It’s an opinion I’m entitled to, a truth if you consider the evidence often presented in my posts.