Bad & Deceitful Counsel: Malawi’s unutilised advisers

YouthDevelopment2

There’s an old Ghanaian proverb that says When a King has good counsellors, his reign is peaceful.

This proverb essentially means a leader is defined by the circumstances and people around him. If a King is surrounded by good and honest people, wise men and women of good repute, truly knowledgeable and full of wisdom and grace, it is highly likely that they will provide sound advice to him; it is also highly likely that they will foresee potentially troublesome situations well in advance.

The result will be that the King will make good decisions, and fewer mistakes; the advisers will shine a torch for him, to see where the potholes are, all of which will benefit the people of the land he rules.

On the other hand, if a King’s advisers are unwise, evil or plain bad, if they are more interested in accumulating wives, wealth and personal possessions, and power, their advice is unlikely to be sound or helpful. They are more likely to give that King the wrong kind of advice, and if he listens or implements such bad advice, it is likely that his reign will be disastrous. Indeed many mistakes will be made, and the people of the land will be the ones who will suffer most.

The assumption implicit in these scenarios are that the King does listen to his advisers, since it is possible to have a wise King who happens to have a few bad advisers amongst the majority good ones, but who is strong enough (mentally) to filter out the bad advice he receives, selecting only that which is progressive and helpful for the realm, leaving out the crap.

There are too many examples of sayings or scenarios similar to this proverb throughout history, although a few are worth a mention.

In Genesis chapter 26 verse 26, we are told that Abimelech, the Philistine King went to Beersheba to see Isaac from Gerar with his adviser Ahuzzath and Phicol the commander of his army. This is one of the earliest mention of the presence of an adviser in the Bible and some scholars say Ahuzzath may have been a  ‘friend’ or ‘minister’ to Abimelech. But whichever way, if you read the story in full, you will see that throughout the period Abimelech lived at peace with Abraham’s son, save for a few minor scuffles between their herdsmen. It’s quite possible that this peaceful co-existence was largely due to the advice the Philistine leader received from his advisers. Indeed many stories in the old testament testify of the eventual downfall of Kings primarily because they listened to the wrong type of advice, ignored the right kind of advice, or sought no advice at all.

For those who disbelieve the Bible, dismissing it as a collection of fairly tales, maybe the influence of Piers Gaveston on Edward II of England will convince you. He was an adviser to Edward II and according to one account here

 Piers Gaveston was a knight’s son who had been Edward’s friend since boyhood. When Edward, still a prince, feuded with important officials in his father’s court, Gaveston was seen as the cause, and was sent to exile. Summoning him home was Edward II’s first royal act. Gaveston was made Earl of Cornwall, but his political fights with the existing nobility would define the rest of his life, which didn’t last long. The nobility, without whose money and prestige and feudal armies Edward could not run the country, forced Gaveston into exile twice more in the next five years. He was never openly attacked for his sexuality, but instead was hated because he gave advice to the king that was no good, and the king should be taking the real nobility’s advice, anyway. In 1311 a committee of aristocrats and bishops imposed a series of Ordinances on the king, which declared that “through bad and deceitful counsel, our lord the king and all his men have everywhere been dishonoured.”

Bad and deceitful counsel. It’s one of many stories but it always ends pretty much the same way.

Although it doesn’t mean that even wise counsellors don’t get it wrong sometimes. In Daniel chapter 2 verse 24, we have Daniel pleading with  the executioner Arioch, who King Nebuchadnezzar had appointed to execute the wise men of Babylon (after they failed to interpret his dream) “Do not execute the wise men of Babylon. Take me to the king, and I will interpret his dream for him.”

More recently, during President Ronald Reagan’s administration, despite a somewhat positive and respectable legacy, the US government was involved in so many controversies many of which were the result of bad counsel perpetrated by more than just a few dodgy advisers. Reagan’s White House aide Michael Deaver and national security adviser Robert McFarlane were convicted of various offenses. MacFarlane pleaded guilty in 1988 to four misdemeanors of withholding information from Congress and was sentenced, but later pardoned by George H.W. Bush. Deaver was convicted of perjury for congressional testimony he submitted to a congressional subcommittee and federal grand jury investigating his lobbying activities with administration officials. Then there was Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger who was indicted but later also pardoned by Bush? The question is why didn’t Reagan refuse to authorise all these botched schemes?

At this point let us consider the well-known English idiom Birds of the same feather, flock together, and ask the question under what circumstances will a sensible leader allow people who are unlike him to influence him in some material way in terms of making decisions that have particularly far-reaching implications? After all what do crows (akhwangwala) know about hawks? Isn’t one bird a cowardly scavenger ever pursuing after leftovers, whereas the other is a bird of prey that is not only an able hunter, but belongs to the same group from which the King of the birds come. Shouldn’t there be an exercise of judgement?

But what has all this got to do with Malawi?

Well, these days as I talk to Malawians from all over the world, and read what other progressives are writing about in terms of development and the general climate on the ground in Malawi, I’m left surprised by the sheer number of good ideas they have. From the writing by one Malawian originally from Salima,  to those of another (who is not from Salima, but is nevertheless inspiring), I feel these kinds of ideas should be listened to? In any case, just because someone opposed a certain thing doesn’t mean that what they are advocating is not valid.

On this blog, I’ve purposely chosen to echo some of such views not because I’m sunk in an illusory world of familiar opinion. Instead, I believe that in the right hands, with the right leadership and mechanisms of oversight, with driven effectors, those same ideas these people advocate can help transform our country positively.

I mean take a look at the recent news headlines coming out of Malawi, can you see anything that you can point that has a chance of transforming a country with 14 million people? The Banning of Satchets? Breaking up Escom? Tobacco Sales (the country’s largest source of export revenue) in Lilongwe Suspended again

The news that populates the airwaves is not that of innovative ways of helping young people, or of increased Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as a result of a clean and conducive investment climate. Something which Paul Kagame in Rwanda has strived and just about achieved. No, the news on Malawi news channels is filled with accounts of dubious court cases (some on prosecution of embezzled funds by government officials, and another – a recent one –  in which it is alleged the president is suing a well-known UK-based activist); you hear of a presidential aide who is said to have bought a PhD from some serial con-artist – brilliantly seared here by one Pasteni Mauka (himself said to be a DPP insider in concert with other disgruntled DPP insiders, now turned against the clique running the show at Capital Hill);

As if this is not enough, then you read of charities pitying Malawians and sending them token gestures. And celebrities – all of which also serves to remind us all just how terrible the country’s situation is. Every single day I get about 3 different stories in my inbox, on various charitable efforts happening in Malawi. That’s over a thousand a year! What concrete progress has those efforts achieved all these years, especially in terms of sustainability and ensuring that the recipients stand on their own feet?

Here please allow me to digress: when was the last time you heard that some famous star had gone to Mauritius or to Malaysia to give alms? When did a wife of a billionaire wear a sari, mingling with the women who live in the slums of Mumbai? There are poor people in these countries – just as there are poor people in America, and in England. But such places are not ‘headline grabbing’. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but the fact is you rarely hear of such charitable visits…Instead it’s always a poor African country at the receiving end of do-gooders (most of whom I doub’t know these facts). Most recently it’s increasingly becoming fashionable to go do something charitable in Malawi. Malawi is fast becoming the Oxfam of the continent, if it hasn’t already done so.

It seems it’s easier to give Malawians fish, instead of a fishing rod. Because if you give them a fishing rod, you probably won’t be able to go back in 2 years time and pose for carricatured photos demonstrating your charitable kindness. Photos which you can then put up on Instagram and twitter for all the world to marvel at your fantastic heart.

Then there’s the regionalistic hatred (‘Ntumbuka’ uyu, ‘Mbwenu Mbwenu’…azipita kwawo) spewed shamelessly on the comments of these news sources I refer to … which frankly speaking shouldn’t be authorised on any news site; there are stories of police beating up innocent people – over some lame vendetta. And oh, I almost forgot – a presidential press secretary who writes a memo encouraging government ministries to advertise on a radio station with links to the presidency. And then accuses the radio station of forgery???

And in most of these things one must wonder where Peter Mutharika or his advisers are. Fine, you can’t expect a leader to hold everyone to a leash, but there has to be some ground rules, some responsibility, some direction. And when people screw up at government level -be they advisers or otherwise, they need to face the music. That’s the only way to restore public trust in politics.

So then, next time you meet a King or a leader, remember When a King has good counsellors, his reign is peaceful.

Thoughts on the sale of Malawi Savings Bank (MSB) , and more

The trouble with capitalists (as with politicians) is that they think only about themselves. Until after things begin to go wrong, after which they still think only about themselves. Need proof of that?  What happened in the 2008-2009 financial crash?

Dont get me wrong, I’m pro Capitalism. Totally. May not entirely be proud of it, but I am pro ‘responsible Capitalism’, for lack of a better term. My line of work is made possible definitely only because of Capitalism. And yes, I enjoy what I do.

But when your only motivation and greatest priority is making money; and everything else including other human beings come second in the list of priorities, then it is more likely than not that you have lost the plot; that you need salvation.

But without digressing too much, why is the sale of MSB the wrong decision?

Well, firstly assets fetch more when sold at the peak of their value. When they are sparkling and in pristine condition; for companies, it’s when business is going well and the profits are pouring in in bucket-loads. During such times, the sale of a business can command serious financial digits and can really bring value to their owners. But when the business is  loan-laden with toxic debts it issued (some alleged to be politically influenced backdoor deals), when a bank is infested with inefficiency, corruption or dodgy deals, when there are some financial mishaps, you can’t possibly expect to get value for money, or for the bank to be sold for the real value it is worth. Had the management persevered and got its act together before selling, had the bank liquidated a significant part of the debts on its books, it’s likely that it could have fetched more on the market.

Think of it like selling your old car (which is partly owned by your friend who doesn’t want to sell it) when the windscreen has a chip in it, when the paint work needs improving, when one tyre is flat, and look! – .there’s a decomposing rat on the backseat..yuck!

Lets just say your car would have fetched a better price if you first reached an agreement with your friend, and fixed it; if you got it cleaned, …kuyikwecha bobo, before attempting to sell it.

Secondly, you can’t sell what you do not officially own. You can’t sell what you have no authority to sell. Imagine if I showed up to a potential investor and claimed that I owned the land on which the new stadium in Lilongwe is being built. Not only would my claims be laughable (and could possibly land me a stint in jail), but any foolish investor who dared believe such folly, without independent verification, would find themselves in the undesirable position of having to explain a useless contract – a piece of paper that would be completely unenforceable.

So, being state-owned, MSB is essentially a chattel held by the state in trust on behalf of the people. It is Malawians who should hold the key to its fate, they are the ones who can legitimately decide on whether to sell it or not. Malawians and not only the government of Malawi.

If that’s not currently the case, then that’s how it should be, for any state-owned property because otherwise there is a danger that the executive could make decisions befitting more of a dictator than a democratically elected president; that the legislature could act without consulting the people they represent.

Which is a problematic state of play since by selling the bank, the assumption is that the government is acting in the interests of Malawians – and has their blessing in undertaking such actions ; yet from the anti-sale demonstrations and all the opposition to the sale, it would be perfectly clear to anybody who was paying attention that there are many thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, or even millions of Malawians who didn’t exactly approve of the decision (the very reason why it had been initially suspended). So without a vote or proper public consultation, wouldn’t the sale of MSB be undemocratic? Or illegal?

In addition, state-owned property is one means by which the state generates an income to pay for the business of government. Without enough state-owned property (or some other dependable source of an income), most governments are unable to generate enough funds from tax-collection alone. They struggle to pay for services, and the business of government (Civil servant salaries, Security and public order, food, medicines, infrastructure, education, etc) with the result they end up having to borrow money from institutions whose primary motive is making money; international banks who can’t possibly be said to have the best interests of the loan recipient country at heart.

It’s the capitalists I mentioned above who get to provide the loans, on their terms and not the recipient’s terms. Therefore, it must come as no surprise if they disregard the hungry children the poor country has.

North_Darfur_IDP_malnourished_childDisregarding overflowing maternity wards in the country’s hospitals – which desperately need upgrading; with no concern, sympathy or consideration for parents who can’t pay for medical care for their children. Make no mistake, Capitalists are not charities. They are not mandated as governments of western democracies are – to care for the people, especially the most vulnerable people in society. They work without care for the villagers who have no clean water, no electricity and no medicines in hospitals. They don’t think about the young people who have degrees but can’t get jobs in their own countries because there are no jobs available (and the government or domestic private enterprise are not investing in jobs or youth development initiatives).

It’s no big secret, but most Capitalists think only about how much money they can make for themselves, for their organisations / institutions and for their friends.

I may not have all the concrete data to support this somewhat wild claim, but I’m willing to bet a few quid that they do.

The result is inevitable; whole countries end up tormented by debt, with ballooning deficits which can never realistically be got rid of, as Argentina and Greece have found out the hard way in recent years. They become the butt of jokes and stand at the receiving end of blame. Unable to raise credit, and therefore unable to finance their activities. It’s virtually a coup.

greek-bailout-fund2Countries like Greece. Countries like Malawi.

This is the reason why so many countries are in debt, because their governments do not own enough assets from which to extract a dependable and sustainable income, and they have to rely on harmful debts which damage their economies more than they help. Put simply, these countries do not have a job that pays enough for them and ‘their families’ to survive on, so they go to loan sharks who tie a noose around their necks.

In Friedmanian economics (or what he termed neoliberalism), the same governments – most of whom at the time were operating surpluses or relatively small budget deficits in comparison to the current levels –  were told by mostly pro-capitalist economists to relinquish ownership of high yield assets (in industries which were dominated by few individuals/ merchants in monopolies that traded side by side with the state-owned enterprises) they owned, in the process ‘laissez-faire’ economics morphed into ‘market competition’… a phenomenon similar in effect to the fall of the USSR’s property ownership framework while urging in the rise of the Oligarchs. Before you had fewer players gnawing at the national cake, and the government was a significant player- now you have more players at the banquet(even though they are still a minority in comparison to the whole population), but this time, the government is not even at the table.

No prizes for guessing who bought those assets, but the state – these fellows argued, shouldn’t be in the business of running anything. As a result, several decades later – culminating in Thatcherism in Britain – everything from utility companies (including gas and electric suppliers) were mostly owned by corporations; so were the mines, railway and telecommunication companies, virtually every large industry with the capacity to raise huge sums for the government fell out of majority stake public-ownership, in preference to some private outfit, whose primary motive was profit and little else.

Some of these countries do not have oil, or other high demand resources on which to depend in the long-run (and even many which do struggle to manage them properly).They have to rely on a small tax base (~ heavily taxed citizens) for revenues, crops such as tobacco which are fast becoming unpopular, on tax-evading companies to pay their fair share of tax to the state; how crazy do you have to be to depend on profit-shifting (cost-shifting) corporations to stop their dirty tricks and behave (even though there is little indication this will happen anytime soon)? They rely on meagre inflows of Foreign Direct Investment, on aid organisations whose ethics/ morality is often in question. And if all that isn’t sufficient to support their budgets, these countries have a ‘safety’ net which can only be described as a poisonous concoction of interest-driven donors and austerity-prescribing institutions – to provide loans.

In contrast, countries rich in natural resources such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait own significant parts of their largest industries, and can therefore afford to finance almost all the business of government from the sale of their natural resources (in this case oil).

When was the last time you heard that Kuwait or Qatar had asked for a loan from the IMF?

They don’t need to hold onto many state-owned assets outside of the petroleum realm, because the petroleum industry generates enough income to cover the business of government and give them budget surpluses for every other luxury – from financing huge construction projects, to paying for a controversial world cup that’s now increasingly doubtful – thanks to the FIFA scandal.

What about all the bailouts, someone may ask, and loans and aid provided to struggling countries over the last 50 years, where has all that gone? Well, mostly to the banks. And to companies from the countries of the aid providers. In the case of Greece which is suffering the same kind of debilitating debt onslaught as most African countries but on a much larger scale, the money went back to the same capitalists (see another link here from the Guardian) who created the very same mess in the first place.

Thus, considering all this, and more, I have to say for me it’s entirely valid to believe that if you don’t have a large multi-billion dollar industry in your country, if you have few natural resources to exploit, and if many of the common problems African countries have to battle with plague your economy, then it makes perfect sense as a government to hold on to as much industry as you can – and try to make it profitable. Maybe in the same way as Norway has done.

Such a strategy to me has a better chance of achieving a zero deficit budget, giving your country a surplus of disposable income others fail to achieve.

And that is why I think Peter Mutharika and the government of Malawi has got it wrong on Malawi Savings Bank (MSB)

P/s: Go tell the Malawian commentator who appeared to be saying that Malawians were wrong to voice their concerns over the sale of MSB that he has got it completely wrong this time. If anything, Malawians should be mad  for being taken for fools! far from being silent more Malawians should stand up to be counted. Foolish ideas deserve nothing but condemnation!

For American pundits, China isn’t a country. It’s a fantasyland.

(C) John Cole / The TimesTribune  - Image from http://blogs.baruch.cuny.edu/
(C) John Cole / The TimesTribune – Image from http://blogs.baruch.cuny.edu/

This titled ‘For American pundits, China isn’t a country. It’s a fantasyland.’ is beautifully written (via Washington Post)

‘This takes about a half-hour of research to discover, or five minutes of conversation with anyone who went to an ordinary Chinese school. But the Western educators and politicians who fawn over China’s schools can’t be bothered with the realities of crumbling rural classrooms, students forced to bribe teachers to get a seat in front, or the mind-numbing “politics” classes that kids and adults alike sleep through. China is a lead-in anecdote to their arguments, not somewhere they’re actually interested in.’

Finding China’s realities can be hard simply because lying is so common here, whether it’s fraudulent government data, false ambulances or tainted baby formula. The collapse of social trust as a result of decades of Maoism, followed by a get-rich-first ethos, has made honesty a rare quality. With no external controls from a free media or civil society, Potemkinism is an everyday skill across the country, whether directed at outside investors or official inspectors.

The Other: What people say about Migrants

P1060325Once every now and again something happens that prompts me to troll through the comments people leave in response to articles on news websites. This exercise is purely a curiosity driven exploration of the range of views out there. And except for the clearly idiotic  (which there are many), I think most comments reveal a lot about the people who write them.

So maybe comments could be a way of gauging what a part of the readership of a publications thinks about certain issues. Maybe it can be used to gauge popular sentiment, but I doubt it is necessarily representative of a population or locality in the way that a referendum does. It couldn’t possibly be, for many reason including because not all readers in a locality read the same publication (or even read a newspaper). And for those who read a particular publication, not all of them leave comments. Even those who leave comments do not always show their true colours.

Still, comments being opinions are subjective and often filled with emotion even though as subjectivity goes some opinions are rather scary.

Also it’s interesting to see that the notion of freedom of expression in some countries is quite difficult to pinpoint, if not altogether warped, while in other countries, it’s the quickest ticket to persecution, jail or worse. To some people, expressing hate and what could come across as vile, equates to freedom of expression. To others its heresy. No surprises then that in this nirvana of duplicitous opinions found on newswebsites, certain subjects (in particular those praising certain dictators) are out-of-bounds and you can very quickly get in trouble, whereas praising other dictators (for example Stalin for some bizarre reason) is unlikely to get you in any trouble, leaving one wondering whether the measure used in deciding what is acceptable isn’t questionable in itself.

Criticising certain religious figures is likely to go unchallenged, while criticising others could elicit violence. Which is why lots of people leave comments from behind an alias unconnected with their physical person.

It appears that the criteria for determining what is acceptable freedom of speech and what isn’t, isn’t straightforward. Especially if you consider that in some countries what passes as freedom of speech would be deemed to be unlawful, slanderous, even criminal elsewhere.

So in the end, what you are not allowed to say in public is not uniform universally (and indeed cannot be).  It’s down to issues like where you live, the civil liberties you are afforded, the cultural bias of your community, what the dominant religion is, the threshold of what the presiding authorities deems to be acceptable, how well resourced the authorities are, how stringently the law is enforced, how brave / foolish you are, and so on.

Political correctness has a nationality, and a religion.

Anyhow, in this realm, it’s not uncommon to find the bizarre, hilarious, fascinating, truthful, misleading, ignorant, mockery, satirical and the poetic lying cosily next to each other.

Since 50 million people worldwide currently are refugees, asylum seekers or internally displaced within their own countries, then in light of the xenophobic attacks in South Africa, and frequent drownings of migrants in the mediterranean sea, I thought it appropriate to list some randomly picked comments that were written in response to articles that had something to do with migrants / refugees, from across the world.

Enjoy 🙂

From Swinging guns and fleeing foreigners: What is the state doing?  (Mail & Guardian)

Zuma giggles while SA burns. If you have no house , no job, no money, no propects of getting a job you may as well join a movement – any one will do. Unemployment is getting worse- a clothing factory in Durban has retrenched 300 workers and moved its operation to Swaziland -cost of labour is much cheaper and without all the unions red tape. Meanwhile our President is buying new jets to the value of 2 or 3 billion….hhe he hheee…..let them eat cake

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Stewart •   Is apartheid to blame for this? Egalitarians probably believe so, but the reasons behind all of this are too politically incorrect to air. This more or less standard operating procedure for countries nearing collapse and about to achieve failed state status. Its almost inevitable.

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uma’s announcement during SONA that no foreigners could own land in SA was met by probably the loudest applause of the night. It’s exactly that kind of anti-foreigner sentiment that gives some citizens confirmation that foreigners are the enemy that should be acted against.

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nocent black people? You mean those same people who moved from central west Africa and occupied Sub Saharan Africa? You mean those very same people who engaged in the Mfecane, cleansing the nearby peoples. Or perhaps the same people who displaced the Khoi whose paints are a start reminder in those isolated caves in the Drakensberg?

Stop telling lies about a history that only happened in the fertile tracts of your mind. Human history is a bloody one and there are no gentle peaceful tribes.

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While nothing good came of apartheid… The picture postcard of post-apartheid South African prosperity is nothing more than just a fairy tale.

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From  Incendiary SMS targets foreign nationals in Jo’burg  (Mail & Guardian)

Sibusiso •  The biggest walking fire is Zuma and his deafening silence….#ZUMAmustGO

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 Heraklit • South Africa open for business?
Gateway to Africa?
Looks more like Dante’s first stop over on his way into purgatory right now…

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Lets build my statues of Jan van Riebeeck, Rhodes, Ghandi etc….. -that should divert their attention for a while!

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From Rights violation charge laid against Zulu king  (Mail & Guardian)

BritinSA •  “The King is not to blame”. “The Kings words have been lost in translation”.

If you threw a match onto flammable material, then you DID start the fire.

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Brian • It is about time our governnment realize the cost of corruption they have created. Most foreign people in this country are not documented correctly if not at all. It is easy for them to do as they please. Some of the areas like Hilbrow and Kempton Park have been turned into little Lagos and drugs dealings is 2nd nature to them. Police are doing nothing about it. It is wrong for South Africans to take out their frustrations to our foreign brothers and sisters that are in the country legally and are contributing positively to the growth of this country. Not all foreigners in this country are criminals and sell drugs. Let those who are not documented correctly and committing all sorts of crime be broad to book and if possible deported back to their countries and that should be done within the law. As for the king and his utterances, it was wrong of him as a leader to say what he said.

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King Butter •  The Zulu’s should unite and fight this Monarchical Insubordination. Our damn King, in Our damn Province speaking to HIS people; and he gets insulted (BY FOREIGNERS??) for speaking the obvious truth, that ILLEGAL migrants should be repatriated.

Rod Baker to King Butter •  Exactly.He is YOUR king, the Zulus king, He is not my king, not the Xhosas’ king, not the Vendas’ king, Sesothos’ king etc. He is king of no one else but the Zulus.

So you go ahead and defend him – and while you are about it, also pay in full for his upkeep and leave us out of it. Our taxes should go to other things.

As for what he said, people in his position have to be extremely circumspect in what they say – and should know better than to say foreigners need to pack their bags and go. There are too many people out there who are willing to help the foreigners on their way, and help themselves to the latter’s good while they are about it.
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e should also be investigated by the nature conservation people for wearing furs and feathers of possible endangered fauna.

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From Katie Hopkins calling migrants vermin recalls the darkest events of history (Guardian)

SamStoneI was just about to write “the thing about Katie Hopkins is, absolutely no one likes her, so whatever she says, everyone automatically disagrees with her because she’s so ludicrous”

BUT….Then I just read the most up-voted comments about the same migrants article on the Daily Mail website, which said, starting with the most liked…

“She’s absolutely right!”

“Kate gets it right again.”

“I agree with her. She speaks a lot of sense and has the guts to say what others are thinking.”

And now I despair for humanity.

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Coolhandluke77 :    It is not unheard of for radical environmentalists to compare the whole of teaming humanity to locusts, cockroaches or other vermin. And many have less than progressive views on immigration.

Where is the outrage..? Where are the petitions..?

And speaking of hypocrisy, these immigrants are dying trying to get into Fortress Europe. That is the EU. But all the posturing by pro EU politicians has been against Farage, who is not even in power.

So apart from the fact that some should be choking on their own hypocrisy, I do agree with the article.

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 After we in the west have created the conditions under which tens of thousands of people feel so desperate that they will risk their lives to escape, we then turn round and say we can´t help them because we don´t have the capacity? We had the capacity to bomb their countries for weeks on end and create havoc where there had been stability. We really are a disgusting lot, dragged along on the coat tails of the Yanks year after year, doing the dirty work of international corporations that exist because they thrive on war and disorder. Speak for the ordinary people like yourselves, because that´s what these people are, just ordinary men, women and children taking the flak for the greed of the few.

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mizdarlin :  This is hate speech pure and simple..and should be dealt with as such..if she is as insane as she sounds, and having her taken away for psychological analysis for a few months might be the only way to find out-then do so at once and make her spew disappear…

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From Europe Considers Response as Hundreds of Migrants Die in Mediterranean Sinkings (New York Times)

Nancy , Great Neck:  That the countries of Europe are not monitoring the Mediterranean for attempted passages and such terrifying tragedies is beyond shameful. There is evidently a sense that monitoring passage attempts encourages them, but taking this as a justification for neglect of a humanitarian obligation is profoundly immoral.

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Rita,  California: Of course European countries need to work towards a common resolution of the refugee crisis. Borders are porous and the initial influx into one country will eventually disperse into others. The ultimate resolution requires stabilizing the region so that refugees can return home.

Massacre is the right word to describe the actions of those who take refugees’ money and then load the boats past capacity limits.

PS Erecting a wall or starting a naval blockade are not feasible solutions.

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John, Los Angeles:  A tragedy. But not Europe’s fault. At some point, political boundaries have to have meaning. If people want to risk their lives to illegally enter a country they are ultimately responsible for their own fate. Perhaps European countries should simply blockade north Africa and turn back all ships.

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Underclaw, The Floridas: Remember when President Obama launched an air attack in Libya that led to “regime change” in Tripoli (and the public execution of Qadaffy)? And remember how the United States then up and left Libya in chaos and anarchy? And remember how we were lectured about how Obama’s policy of “leading from behind” in places Libya was a “brilliant” foreign policy doctrine? Well, now look.

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From German Asylum: Attacks on Refugee Hostels a Growing Problem (Spiegel Online)

antfreire 04/11/2015  Since when is legal, or ethic that people that don’t have a satisfactory way of live where they live have to be accepted in countries where they decide to move? Does Germany have any commitment or moral duty to accept people from Sudan, or Siria, or Irak, etc. just because they are not doing well there? Will the people that promote this type of “serve yourself” inmigration bring a couple of this inmigrans to their house to live with them?

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Inglenda2 04/11/2015 When governments choose to ignore the wishes of their own people, it is almost impossible, for normal citizens, to take action against those responsible. The result is, that there will always be parts of the population, who express their justified, but falsely directed, frustration by violence against the weakest of the weak. In this case it is the refugees who are made to suffer. In psychological circles, such conduct is known as projection and is more common, for example in mobbing, than most of the general public are aware of.

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ernestokunn 04/14/2015  As Slavoj Zizek states, TOLERANCE IS NOT ENOGH. There are limits, certainly. It becomes an explosive problem if two ethnic or religious groups live together in close vicinity who have irreconcilable ways of life and, as such, perceive criticism of their religion or way of life as being an attack on their very identity. We all should stop with hypocrisy. Mainly our politicians.

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alfuryu 04/12/2015 It saddens me that again the Spiegel again only scratches the surface of what those outside Germany understand. After the war you did not pursue those animals that perpetrated crimes in fact you harboured them and protected them you even have specific laws that still protect them and the officials that support and still carryout what those outside of German would call racism. Your public bodies do not have open complaint procedures when such crimes are committed so inside the population we see the hatred or is arrogance of the Germanic race to think they are better than all. Come on Germany the world gave you a chance supported you after the war turned a blind eye to you not paying up what you were due in the 1950s or pursuing the guilty only the auschlanders are handed over funny old thing. The reality is there is a still a group of nutcases within Germany that need to be purged and it needs to be a bigger crime to be racist than it is to accuse someone of having the behaviour of a NAZI i.e. a bully, thug, a person who considers all others unequal. I see it

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From  Xenophobic attacks: Nigeria counts losses   (Vanguard – Nigeria)

Oldbendel • 5 High profile international football games cannot change the mentality of these big heads South Africans,send them to school where they can be tought some lesson on issues relating to globalization,cultural diversity etc,or else they remain barbarians forever.

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Micho • Nigeria is the most accommodating country in Africa. I can say that we are America in Africa. Go to all these African country, blacks are seen and addressed as foreigners, I could remember when I was in Gambia, they used to Address Nigerians as fucking foreigners while white and people from Mauritania and worshiped like gods. Nigeria just need good leaders we shall be very great. The wrath of God is on any country that maltreat foreigners, that is one of those warnings that God gave the people of Israel when they left Egypt.South Africa will be punished for what they are doing, but I pray to God to forgive them because of the faithful ones among them.

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Okoko • When the igbos shops were looted in Nigeria due to envy by other tribes, no one shouted. When igbos were deported in their own country, it was normal for yorobber folks. Xenophobia is everywhere, even in Nigeria.

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Somalis, Sudanese and Ethiopians are some no-nonsense taking people, i wonder why they played calm thus far. Hopefully they won’t follow trend and start blowing up South African investments and killing South Africans in their country. The situation is getting really out of control.

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Emma Kuyty •  Absence of love,hatred,wickedness,jealousy etc are synonymous among African Negro and Negra,it is only almighty JAH JEHOVAH that will help Africans.

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Ekwe111 •  Mandatory S.O.S. deductions were levied on Nigeria Govt. employee salaries and elsewhere in the 80’s, principally for the liberation of SA and Zimbabwe; countries that bitterly resent and spite our citizens today.

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From Paytriotism – Becoming British is a Costly Business  ( Economist)

Cutters. Apr 20th, 12:18

Becoming a UK national and gaining access to all the rights and privileges that go with it are far to cheap.

It is bad enough that the dregs of the continent are able to arrive unrestricted, putting massive pressure on local services and adding insignificant amounts to GDP (0.04% per head reported), without British citizenship being cheaply sold.

The cost could rise by 5x as much and demand would scarcely falter.

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guest-olwnaon Apr 19th, 15:56

When our govt receives fees for whatver – residency, health, visa renewal, citizenship, tuition fees, all amounting to billions, it keeps its mouth shut and go to the media to stoke animosity and hate against immigrants. What happened to all the money collected from applicants at the visa processing centres? Yet border staff were made redundant! what happened to the billions that our universities receive from genuine students? if one non EU student pays al least 12,000 pounds as tuition fees per year for a 12 month course, if universities admit 1000 non -EU students that gives a total of 12,000,000 per university. But we know that only the 1999 universities (new breed universities) charge the least amount. Other red bricks, Russell, 1964 universities charge a lot higher ranging from 17-26k. Unfortunately, when immigration figures are collated, 92,000 non EU students are added. What arrant nonsense! I see why vice chancellors and Principal live larger-than-life lives while PhD holds struggle to get regular teaching hours. Yet we are asked to blame immigrants. NO!

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 CA-Oxonian, Apr 16th, 18:39

The excessive fees imposed by the UK government throughout the residency and citizenship application process are just one more sad indication of how insular the UK really is. While the USA is stifling its tech industry with absurd visa restrictions the UK is stifling its entire economy. Apparently Little Britain is quite happy remaining a moribund, inward-looking, and rather stagnant sort of country. Too bad. Aside from the atrocious weather and inept approach to providing services, it’s not entirely a bad place to reside.

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From Rising tide of UK anti-immigrant sentiment (Al Jazeera)

Sayyed Musawi
one thinks that the arrogant Brits ought to remember they plundered the world for centuries stealing, including the Kohinoor diamond they stole from the Indians, the cheap labor they have benefitted from Immigrants, and the contributions made. Just imagine if all Immigrants were to leave britain today with their wealth and Britain were to be honest and give up the money they stole from Nations, the wealth stored up stolen, and the contributions made to it then I am sure britain will just be another empty, depressing European country.
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Arthur Coxon  TODAY THERE IS NO COHESION IN BRITISH SOCIETY WITH SO MANY DIFFERENT IMMIGRANTS, AND RELIGIONS IN THE COUNTRY. ONE FEELS AS IF YOU ARE LIVING IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY. IT’S A TOTAL NIGHTMARE !!!
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SeaNote  If immigrants don’t assimilate, get rid of them.
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Bohdan Chochoł
Oh yeah, the infamous ‘We’ (this & we that) approach to life. While there is a major generation gap now  between under and over 30-year-olds (the young being less prone to nationalist-ic ‘introversion’), the fact Poles became so numerous and at such break-neck speed cannot bode well for British civil society (for genuine civil society in Poland has yet to get into the air, even while the British institution is probably plummeting). The grounds for pessimism  are clearly enough expresed by the “editor-in-chief” (ah yes: hierarchy-mania) of “Our  Pages=Vantage Points=Side-s” (each meaning suggested by the /plural/ term “Strony”; cf.: [–link removed–]). Should it be for purely materialistic reasons that Poles have a right to live in Britain – en masse?
I abhore the so-called road the country went down from Thatcherism onwards; if it’s a road, it’s one that leads to living hell. I understand how difficult it is to get anywhere now in Poland if you’re young and without the kind of status symbols so conveniently listed by Pan Redaktor Naczelny Andrzejko. I equally appreciate how hundreds of thousands, if not millions Poles do not exactly live in Britain but exist as poorly-paid labourers, while others have truly found a place in the world where they wish to remain, because in Britain they’ve found something they could not find in a country like Poland. And yet, between those two more or less extremes is a lot of people who could almost certainly do more for their own country by living in it. Pressurizing the centralised bureaucratic autocracy there into responsible administration, for a start – rather than terrorising local surgeries for their -odding “prrreeskrrreeptsyon”, or ranting how well they know English at OAPs who can’t even begin to understand their Slavspeak, etc. And what about all those crumby shops on the High Street, money laundering or what?
No bad feelings intended, it’s just a subject that defies any softly-softly treatment .
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Mohammed Rahman Islam is a religion of peace.

I invite you and all the readers to study the life of prophet muhammad pbuh and decide on your own. 
He was totally against terrorism. The first three wars of badr , uhud , ahzab were defensive wars to protect the home city of medina. 
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Bader Rammal
No Muslim country invited you to invade and colonize their countries. You colonized….You pay the price….Don’t complain and whine about the results and outcome of your past reckless irresponsible behaviors.

From Britain’s criminally stupid attitudes to race and immigration are beyond parody – Frankie Boyle (Guardian)

GiulioSica  Brilliant writing and analysis, as ever. Thanks Frankie. It really is shameful the way the racists are unashamedly crawling out of the woodwork trying to rewrite history and ignore the present world problems.
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foralltime...”We have streets named after slave owners.”… Spot-on with that one, Frankie…

Penny Lane is a street famous worldwide thanks to The Beatles 1967 hit, but the Liverpool street owes its name to an outspoken Liverpool slave ship owner and staunch anti-abolitionist. James Penny was a Liverpool merchant who made his money from the transportation of slaves.

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atillazenun  Yet another article trying to guilt people and countries for their achievements. Where would the colonies be without the infrastructure that was created for them? Ever thought of that?
If you are so pro-immigration, please list your home address so that a family of four can be sent to live in your spare bedroom.
No?
But you are OK with tax payer money being used to support mass immigration “somewhere not too close to you?”. Get real.

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Fence2  Is the next generation responsible for past generations actions?
No, because if it were then there would be guilty atoms and molecules out there, which is ludicrous.

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moneymonkey  What a lazy article, roll out the tired old nonsense.

Everything we have, we stole from the immigrants in the first place…. UKIP are racist…

wacism, wacism, wacism….

etc etc.

orlandaowl responding to moneymonkey

…… monkey your effing self. Ironically, your beloved Fuhrer is married to a German!

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herbmonkey  Absolute rubbish. Why am I made to feel bad about events that ocurred before I was born. £11.4bn in foreign aid last year came from all our pockets. Yes we had our colonial past and faults but can we be really be held responsible for local corruption where african govenments drive around in Mercedes while their people starve. This piece once again paints the entire nation with a shitty sheen that is only representative of what pisses off the writer. I and my friends speak different languages, do show remorse for the terrible past crimes of our nation and do not display this “casual racism” that apparently the entire natioon should hang our heads in shame about.

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SimonBol Frankie: this is great stuff. You are saying in this single piece what sociologists and historians cannot say in a whole book.

Won an election in an African country? Build a Prison.

You will need it. There are that many idiots you will have to lock away.

And it’s not sensationalist to say that the first duty of any leader of an African country should be to build a prison. A very big one.

To give you an example, a few days ago we were told that Muhammadu Buhari has just won Nigeria’s presidential election, and that sometime in May he will be inaugurated to lead Africa’s largest economy and most populous country.

So, the question is what difference will he make?

You’d be forgiven if you thought not much because Nigeria has been hit by so many scandals lately it’s insane to expect one government to sort out all the mess within a short space of time. And without some radical policies.

Still, there’s reason to be optimistic. According to one Ignatius C. Olisemeka who served among various diplomatic roles as an ambassador to the US for Buhari’s first administration, writing on Vanguard here, Buhari is a man who is deeply religious, lacks bitterness, is incorruptible and is a

.. patriotic Nigerian devoid of any trace of ethnicism and parochialism.

Sounds great right?

But Nigeria faces some extraordinary challenges. And it’s doubtful in my view whether merely being a disciplinarian uncle – in the absence of an extraordinary plan to get things moving – will do much to help. Needless to say I hope I am wrong.

Olisemeka does a good job in listing a good number of these challenges that typify many parts of Africa beyond Nigeria :-
The nation’s sense of indiscipline and disorder is evident and all pervasive even in very simple things and matters of the day and moment. A road-side mechanic claims to be an Engineer (Engr) and insists on being so styled. A traditional herbalist insists he must be called and respected as a professional medical Doctor (Dr) and, indeed, hugs the appellation. An ordinary traditional village community leader who flamboyantly styles himself a Chief and clownishly attired in a self-designed robe, is addressed not only as “Your Highness”, but takes offence if he is not properly addressed as “Your Royal Highness”.
… Pages of our national newspapers are replete with lavishly self-serving advertisements of obituaries, weddings and birthday celebrations. Why not severely tax those who place these wasteful advertisements to rake in and release funds to charities or other good causes such as sporting and educational development of the country.
… confident young ladies on our television sets in order to make themselves more attractive and acceptable, bleach their skin to pale sickening white, with their veins thinly exposed; their bare knuckles and elbows still looking jet black. They should be reassigned to the back room offices, decorated with mirrors, left to rue their new look which has become an eyesore to many viewers. Our television channels have suddenly become a babel and cacophony of crude and embarrassing noise makers, reflecting the values of a sick society, drunk with democratic excesses.
Honorary degrees are sold, bought and conferred on undeserving personalities by many of our Universities and these personalities shamelessly parade them at will. A few prominent church leaders have relocated their pulpits from their churches to the seats of secular power while a number of Imams have not been able to teach their adherents the purity of their religion which preaches respect for human lives.Our youths need impeccable high level connections before gaining employment at any level, both decent or menial. Impunity freely reigns in the land more than ever before. The temples of justice are daily being desecrated. The Lady now has her eyes wide open; seductively beckoning and soliciting for favours….

And those democratic excesses being refered to here are just the icing. According to one Joachim MacEbong, writing on African Arguments here, the downfall of Goodluck Jonathan had as much to do with his own shortcomings as with external factors against which he didn’t do enough. MacEbong summarises the issues as follows:

Having received a strong mandate, Jonathan proceeded to fritter it away on issues like a proposal for a single term of 6 years and a badly-handled public debate over the removal of fuel subsidies, which culminated in Occupy Nigeria. As scandal after scandal came to light without any decisive action, and Boko Haram escalated its activities, Jonathan came to be viewed as being soft on corruption and security, which made a Buhari presidency much more appealing. When you add a flailing economy to the mix, the discontent was there to be tapped

So the same corrupt system Jonathan and his predecessors failed to eradicate is the same one which Buhari will encounter. The same Boko Haram, now twined with the middle-eastern thugs that are laying claim to a caliphate and who are calling themselves IS, ISIL and ISIS is the same group Buhari has to contend with. The shocking Youth unemployment (credible estimates range from 23% to 54%) and associated crimes haven’t gone away just yet, and the armed militia running roughshod across the Niger delta – groups who have been responsible for the loss of billions in illegal sales of Nigeria’s oil every month – are still very much on the loose, free to continue their havoc on Nigeria’s economy.  The tribal conflicts between tribes, and religious intolerance between Christians and Muslims are still very much around – it’s probably only a matter of time before the next church or mosque is torched.

The problems don’t end there. Remember this report by McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), titled  Nigeria’s renewal: Delivering inclusive growth in Africa’s largest economy and published in July 2014, in which we were told what a huge opportunity Nigeria presents to investors? Well, that report also mentions that Nigeria averaged a GDP growth of 1.5 percent a year under military rule ( between 1983–99) – the same time period Buhari had his first stint as country leader. It further states that:

In rural areas, 53 percent of the population lives below the poverty line due to low farm output, poor access to markets, and a rising population that is leading to cultivation of smaller plots …Recent reforms in agriculture are promising, but the scale of challenges is vast, and it may take many years for farm incomes to rise substantially.

However what is probably most worrying, besides the fact that Nigeria remains in the bottom 25% of most corrupt countries according to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index is this next fact:

… poverty rates have remained high and stagnant. On metrics of human health such as child mortality, Nigeria falls far short of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, and it has under-invested in education and infrastructure.

Under-investment in Education and Infrastructure means you have a long way to go to turn around your economy because your institutions can’t just produce quality graduates at the stroke of a presidential decree. And putting in place the necessary infrastructure to kickstart your economy will also take time.

So uncle’s work is cut out. And that’s before we even begin talking of illicit financial outflows.

But what these problems also show is that a little leaven is leavening the whole lump.

You may say look Sangwani, this happens in all poor countries, these people are messing things up because of poverty and corruption they see; that it’s because of the tribal alienation that has left large parts of the north underdeveloped, which forces them to seek political power by hook or crook.

You may have a point, I’m not dismissing other causative factors.

My contention is that a leader can’t address the real issues when there is lawlessness  (if not continuous sabotage) in the form of endemic corruption, terrorists, militia groups and white-collar criminals.

Before there is even any talk of progress, the task of cleaning up will inevitably entail prosecuting those who are spoiling the broth. If nothing is gained from such an exercise, at least a breathing space may be found that allows the leader to squarely face the real issues (security, job creation, healthcare, the economy) without constant disturbance from issues which fuel detractors.

So, it can’t possibly be sensationalist to suggest that the first duty of any newly elected leader of an African country should be to either build a  new prison or ensure one exists that can accommodate as many of those who must be behind bars.

Such an exercise will create jobs (imagine the number of jobs you could create if your budget had $20 billion more each year) It will instill a sense of discipline, and could even attract investment?

I’ll end with another quote from Olisemeka’s article:

The immediate challenge before him [Buhari], I feel convinced, is how to curb the excesses of the teaming mass of followers who, undoubtedly, adore him. The next, is to rein in the display of empty, hollow pompousness and offensive arrogance by a few of his elitist, lazy patronage-seeking associates; who, if victorious, will flock to him without discrimination

Cecil Rhodes: He can never be an African hero

The issue of Cecil Rhodes’s statue being pelted with excrement has deeper issues, of the emerging free thinking young Africans who do not want to be influenced by warped views of Westerners who cannot identify with the enlightened African – of whose breed there are no averages. Scouring the many debates of this issue exposes a deep divide between Africans and Westerners on the issue of colonialism and how it should be remembered. The young minds of Africa who are free from biased views of the world from a western context, are beginning to question certain aspects of African history which was mostly written by Westerners.

First of all, it is of no wonder that the students of University of Cape Town have reacted in this way, because for centuries the African life and history has been dictated by Europeans. Today, a spirit of rebelliousness is slowly fermenting in the young minds of Africans who are fed up of western hegemony on public life in Africa. For once, this new breed of Africans want to decide on what is right for their culture and history, without any distortions or sympathy for imperialism and its so-called advantages from anybody.  They want to decide by themselves, and they will decide for themselves – Kwa wenyewe! Ngokwabo! Pawokha! Nipa ara wọn! Da kansu!

Scouring the many social media comments on this issue, it is disparaging to hear of the lazy argument that claims that there would be no South Africa without colonialism. The claim is that Africa would not be introduced to the modern pillars of life that is education, technology and democracy if it was not for men like Rhodes. Basically what they are saying is that Africa would not be what it is today without imperialism and somehow Africans need to be grateful despite colonialism’s grave flaws.

What a load of bullshit!

What these arguments seem to forget is that, no one in Africa asked for this so-called intervention by Europeans. Africans had their own interpretation of life before the Europeans came, and it is unintelligible to claim that Africans should be grateful for colonialism.

Kerr Cross for example writing in 1890 had this to say about the social and economic life of Northern Malawi:

Food is everywhere abundant, bananas, sweet potatoes, cassava, yams, Indian Corn, beans, peas, millet and other seeds, wild fruits, honey, milk and beef

And in regards to the social order, a look at the village life provides a good picture:

All weeds, grasses, garbage and things unsightly are swept away by little boys. Each house is built of bamboo, with clay worked by the women into little rounded bricks ….The doorsteps are often painted with designs in red, yellow and other colours, and altogether there is an air of comfort, and plenty

(Cross, D.K., Geographical Notes of the country between lake Nyassa, Rukwa and Tanganyika, in: Scottish Geography Magazine VI (1890) pp. 283-4, quoted in: McCracken,J., op. cit., p.98.)

So life for the Africans living in those days must have been reasonable enough in the African context. In fact innovations used in agriculture, in the military and in industry developed in the Northern parts of Africa, by earlier civilisations in Egypt, and those developed by the Nubians, and by civilisations like that of Great Zimbabwe would later  find their way southwards, to be improved upon. [For a much more indepth description refer to this video by Dr Yosef Ben Jochannan ]

Toyin Falola and Tyler Fleming of the Department of History, University of Texas at Austin, USA, writing in AFRICAN CIVILIZATIONS: FROM THE PRE-COLONIAL TO THE MODERN DAY, says:

Though people have lived in Africa quite some time… Iron tools enhanced weaponry, allowed groups to clear and manage dense forests, plow fields for farming, and basically better everyday lives. Ultimately, iron tools allowed Africans to flourish in every environment, and thus they could live in larger communities which led to the formation of states and kingdoms. With state formation came the formation of modern civilizations with common languages, belief and value systems, art, religion, lifestyle and culture

They go on to say that:

Later European explorers and settlers often argued that territories were unsettled upon their arrival and thus were ripe for the taking, but these assumptions were misguided. Often land had been abandoned due to poor soil quality, infrequent rainfall, or had been claimed for future use

No matter how people frame these spineless arguments that portray pre-colonial Africans as having been in need of a white saviour, Africans had their own way of life which was derived of African innovations. The unfortunate thing is that we shall never know what life in Africa could have been without the slave trade and colonialism. Having said that, pre-colonial communities were never completely isolated,and there was interaction between states and with outsiders including the Middle East, India, the Chinese and Europeans. Thus, there are credible grounds to suggest that exchange of ideas on a purely economic relationship (as opposed to coloniser and colonized), relationships in which African truly benefitted, would have ultimately led to a level of development comparable if not superior to those witnessed in other parts of the world.

It needs to be noted that when colonialists came to Africa, they found a continent that was rich in both resources and culture. Africa was home to kingdoms, chiefdoms and previously had housed some of the most intriguing empires which were built using a sophisticated craftmanship previously unknown to Europeans.

But somewhere along the way theories were cooked up which concluded that Black African lives were inferior to White lives. In the absence of written African accounts (many of which were purposely destroyed) that disproved this thesis, such ideas, peddled about by racists such as Arthur de Gobineau and Georges Vacher de Lapouge then spawned the belief that it was in the best interests of Africans that Westerners erase their way of life, whether they liked it or not because the African could not comprehend what was right or wrong for him/her. According to such supremacist theories – which were driven more by propaganda that needed to find an excuse to use in the dispossession of the African, and were devoid of any truthful and verifiable science –  the African needed ‘help’ from a superior being: the white man.

No matter how anyone tries to frame these argument, the fact remains that when the Europeans first arrived, Africans were not lacking. And while they may not have had certain ‘luxuries’, most parts of Africa were stable, had capable people who were content with their lives.

There were diseases (e.g. malaria and dysentery), just like everywhere with such warm climates, and the usual tribal conflicts, but at no point were Europeans asked for their ‘civilization’ to be transplanted to Africa. Put simply, it was forced upon them.

So, its absurd to suggest that colonialism despite its barbarism, needs to be applauded for it ‘civilised’ the savages of Africa.

What people who push that argument seem to forget is that most of the so-called savagery in Africa at that time was fermented because of the transatlantic slave trade which pitted one African tribe against each other. For example in East Africa, before the Arabs came in search of slave labour, the various tribes that inhabited the area were either subsistence farmers or practicing animal husbandry. Society was orderly, and discipline was observed. (Here i must say that the ‘savagery’ painted on Africans at the time doesn’t come anywhere near to the level of savagery by Europeans in the middle ages – from religious persecution to wars of conquest in which thousands were massacred). 

It is this sense of entitlement on the part of Europeans and Americans that has lived on up to this day, that still fuels western countries to meddle in the domestic affairs of other countries, even when they wouldn’t have others meddle in the internal affairs of their own countries. Because some of them are raised to think they are more important than anybody else; that the world owes them resources, wealth, happiness, and it doesn’t matter what or who is in their way; that others who have better things must be dispossessed; that others cannot enjoy their own resources without interference. Jealousy and Greed. This kind of mindset still remains, as Rhodes said,

I contend that we are the finest race in the world and that the more of the world we inhabit the better it is for the human race.

And that is just so sad.

This imperialist kind of thinking is what explains Western countries aiding dodgy rebels to kill Gaddafi, in a country that was more prosperous than any other country in Africa. It is what causes them to back fascist militia to oust an elected government in Ukraine…

Remember what happened to Morsi?…. how a shady military general who is ex-CIA was entertained into pushing out an elected leader in Egypt…

The Syrian conflict and 200,000 people who have died as a result. Iraq and the over one million people who have died as a result…

Gaddafi, Morsi and others were no saints (and yes Morsi was incompetent), but as I’ve argued on this blog before, Gaddafi’s Libya was a hundredfold better than the current Libya, which is ruled by a thousand different murderous militias, causing mindless carnage that is destroying the last vestiges of African prosperity. Many Libyans today openly regret what has become of their country. And the sad thing is western countries can’t fix the mess they helped create.

So, as an African who lives in a country that was a former colony (to which colonisation deprived access to sea – leading to a perpetual volatile economy, and a never ending high cost of living), I’m deeply offended and find it appalling when some fools still think Cecil Rhodes should have a place in African history. I think that decision is for Southern Africans to make and if they deem him to be a villain not a hero, then it should be so – at which point some of us will gladly applaud.

In the same manner that most Africans accept that Adolf Hitler was a murderer, a pillager and conqueror, is the same way the Europeans should accept the view of some Africans on Cecil Rhodes. Having a statue of Rhodes at UCT is abhorrent in all types of rationality, because it was only about 110 years ago that an infestation of men like him masqueraded as angels across the African landscape when in fact they were on a mission of exploitation and pillage. Plundering Africans and their natural wealth: a theft that has clearly benefited the West up until the present time, and whose negative effects are there on African soil, visible for all to see.

I therefore believe that the towering statue of Cecil Rhodes should be pulled down at UCT because it is a constant reminder of colonialism and white superiority. Unlike the pulling down of Saddam Hussein’s statue in 2003… or unlike the pulling down of Lenin’s statues in former soviet republics after the fall of the USSR ( the fall of whose reigns were fingered by foreigners) I think it is time that Africans get to decide on what pages of history they want to write for themselves, and to remember – whether such is accompanied by ‘faeces flinging’ or not, without any foreign interference. And I’ll tell you why: because for years we have been brainwashed with the ‘heroic’ deeds of such charlatans who did nothing for us of any real value. If anything, accepting Cecil Rhodes as a hero is accepting and validating white superiority which once thought African cultures had no place in the world. It’s a bit like trying to convince Iraqis to erect a statue in honour of George Bush and Tony Blair, the two politicians who in recent years have done the most to destroy any hope of peace, security, prosperity and normality for ordinary Iraqis. Glorifying Cecil Rhodes and people like him is tantamount to accepting Slavery and Apartheid.

Slavery…dishonors labor; it introduces idleness into society, and with idleness, ignorance and pride, luxury and distress. It enervates the powers of the mind and benumbs the activity of man. – Alexis de Tocqueville

For the enlightened African, Cecil Rhodes is a pillager, murderer  and a bigot who may have made wealth for some countries in Europe, but is partly responsible for the poverty, sickness, corruption, hegemony and human suffering that we see across Africa today. He has no place in our societies that are striving for love, equality, peace and prosperity for all (irrespective of gender, colour, nationality or race).

So then…Kwa wenyewe! Ngokwabo! Pawokha! Nipa ara wọn! Da kansu!

Edited: S Nkhwazi

Selling Malawi for Peanuts

In whatever we do as a country, we need to make sure that the development path we take should be sustainable for the inter-generational cause. Our generation inherited a beautiful country and as the current custodians of this land, it is our duty to safeguard the interests of current and future generations of native Malawians.

It is my belief that those who fought to extricate colonialism were driven with the fervent desire to see this country independent of foreign dominion that was British Imperialism. It is therefore our duty to honour the wishes of those who fought and died for our Malawi by making sure that native Malawians are the drivers of development in Malawi.

David Korten, one of the leading proponents of alternative development once wrote,

The survival of our civilization, and perhaps our very lives, depends on committing ourselves to an alternative development practice guided by the three basic principles of authentic development: justice, sustainability and inclusiveness-each of which is routinely and systematically violated by current practice‘.

Today, Malawi is slowly creating an economy which will become dependent on some foreigners who are only here on temporal basis to make a fortune. Native Malawians are slowly being excluded from many vast opportunities that this nation has to offer, and I believe that the development course taken today by us, will harm the interests of our children and future generations because of our shortsightedness.

The biggest issue that is worrisome in this country is the sale of lucrative land to foreigners. According to Watipaso Mzungu’s report in the Nation newspaper of 17th January, only 5 native Malawians own business land in Limbe. It is a sad development on our part because just about 3 decades ago, native Malawians owned lucrative land especially in the cities of Malawi.  At the rate we are going, native Malawians will end up being excluded in their own country because we only want to satisfy our current intra-generational needs. I am not saying that it is wrong for foreigners to invest in Malawi, but we need to exercise caution when prime land is being sold to foreigners without securing the interests of native Malawians. A good example is that of the conflict between the locals of Masasa in Mangochi and Mota Engil. The locals claim they were not consulted about the selling of their land by the government to Mota Engil. The traditional authority tried to coax the locals to give up their land to Mota Engil, a transnational corporation which has plans to build a 5 star hotel and golf course by the lake in Mangochi. In the end, the irate locals of Masasa fought with the T/A, councillor and the police which left 2 people dead and others seriously injured. These are the situations which are unsustainable for Malawi because we are ready to deprive our own people their lake which ancestors lived with for many generations. The 5 star hotel and golf course is a welcome investment but it should not be to the detriment of the locals at Masasa. I am sure the lake has many vacant tracts of land where this 5 star hotel can be built without displacing people. Development is about including a people’s livelihoods in projects which ensure that poor local communities are not excluded from benefitting from our natural resources.

Another worrying aspect of this land issue is that there are some unscrupulous chiefs who sell large tracts of valuable customary land to foreigners without securing the interests of future generations in their communities. Malawi has one of the most beautiful natural beaches in the world and there is need for us to limit and protect the sale of this land. The large swathes of land along Lake Malawi should be protected for our future generations’ livelihoods and investment opportunities. Future generations of Malawi might have the access to the much needed capital or funds to invest in these areas, and it is in our best interests that we preserve prime land along the lake shore. It would be very selfish of us to deprive our future compatriots of investment opportunities in their own country because of our ineptitude in prioritising national and indigenous interests. According to the Africa Conference on Land Grab’s research, over 55 million hectares of land in Africa has been “grabbed” since the year 2000. These land grabs are happening without any informed consent from development managers and thus millions of vulnerable communities in Africa are at risk of being displaced from their own lands.

Conflicts between Paladin the Australian mining company and the local people at the Kayelekera mining facility shows that Malawi is not ready to manage finite resources in a sustainable manner. Foreign investors scour the earth to find countries with surplus natural resources but with weak or ineffective environmental laws, because it reduces operating costs for firms.  Paladin has been mining uranium for years in Karonga but where do the proceeds go? Can anyone really point out any structure in this country that was built using proceeds from uranium mining? Uranium is a finite resource and if we are not careful, we will deplete our reserves with nothing to show for it. Once again, Malawians are handing out natural resources to the foreigner who will only continue to exploit us.

In the midst of conflicts between the locals and Paladin at Kayelekera, we hear that the government is busy employing foreign companies to explore the possibility of oil in Lake Malawi. Lake Malawi is a source of food and income for the poor living along the lake shore, and if there was to be an oil spillage, we risk the well-being and livelihoods of current and future lakeshore inhabitants. For centuries, our people have lived in harmony with this lake and it would be very selfish of our generation and our leaders to put others at risk because of our voracious greed. In terms of attraction for tourism, Lake Malawi is all we have. I’m sure no Malawian needs any reminder of what happened with Nyika National Park. If it was not for this lake, we would have no tourists coming to Malawi because Lake Malawi is the epitome of attraction in this country. I believe that oil drilling in Lake Malawi is not sustainable because oil is finite resource and also an environmental hazard that can destroy livelihoods and the lake’s Biodiversity. Lake Malawi provides 70 to 75 per cent of the animal protein consumed by both urban and rural communities. It would therefore be negligent for the government to sanction oil drilling in the lake which provides critical habitat for an amazing array of plants and animals including bacteria, fungi, algae, plankton, mussels, snails, crustaceans, insects, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.

When our leaders go outside of this country, they are always selling Malawi to the world as a place of investment opportunities. Indeed Malawi is a peaceful country which offers cheap labour and less competition for businesses, and it is therefore a haven for foreign investors. What we have to remember is that a foreign investor is seeking to make maximum profits, and the only way to do this in a host economy is by “cost reduction”. In Malawi, a lot of native Malawians employed by some foreign companies are being underpaid and exploited for monetary gains which sometimes do not even benefit our economy. A lot of our able graduates are languishing without jobs because some of our so-called investors only employ their relatives in top-tier jobs while Malawians are employed in low-tier jobs. Foreign direct Investment (FDI) is important in modern-day economics and plays the largest part in the growth of economies in a globalised world. However, when FDI is benefiting the foreigner than the host country, there is need to improve the structures to combat unscrupulous employers exploiting the weak and poor. There are a lot of foreign owned companies in Malawi who are exploiting the local personnel simply because our institutional governance structures are either weak or corrupt.  Malawians should not just be used for menial jobs only because we have educated people in this country who can fill up higher positions in foreign owned businesses.

We also have foreign investors who travel hundreds or thousands of miles away to invest in salons, clothes shops or other small enterprise trading entities. As much as Malawi needs investors, I doubt that these small trading entities are bringing any meaningful monetary gains for the country. If our trading partners in the West were following our pattern and forms of foreign investment, it is highly unlikely that their economies would have grown to astronomical heights. Malawi is a poor country that has a high unemployment rate and there is need to protect local entrepreneurs with small business enterprises. If foreigners monopolise the smallholder business market, the local Malawian entrepreneur is at risk of losing his/her business.

If we are to sustain development, native Malawians need to be the primary drivers of the economy and not the other way round. When we give licences or contracts to transnational corporations, Malawians should also be included in these processes to ensure accountability and justice. The Kayelekera mine is a good example whereby we are giving away our uranium to foreigners without any visible gain for the country. If we cannot get a good deal with foreign mining companies, it is not wrong for us to preserve our uranium for our future generations who might be in a better position to manage such resources. In this modern age of technological advancement, uranium plays an important part in the generation of energy. As our population grows, our hydro-electrical plants will not be enough to sustain Malawi and who knows, the future generations of this country might have the capability of setting up nuclear plants! It is therefore important for us to always think for our future generations because they too have the right to enjoy the resources this country has today.

All in all, I believe that we are the generation that is supposed to build a strong foundation for the house of Malawi, and if we fail, our future compatriots will inherit a broken country with little or no promise. And don’t be surprised if at that time, your”investors” all flee, and the country is thrown into chaos and violence.

Development is about continuity and the little we can manage to do in our lifetime is enough for others to carry on. If we do not have the capability to extract natural resources today, then there is no need for us to entrust our wealth with foreigners who are only here exploit our God-granted gifts. We cannot do everything in our lifetime.

Paja amati kuthamanga sikufika!

10 Reasons to Love Uruguay’s President José Mujica

The following article was originally printed on Counterpunch here

José MujicaPresident José Mujica of Uruguay, a 78-year-old former Marxist guerrilla who spent 14 years in prison, mostly in solitary confinement, recently visited the United States to meet with President Obama and speak at a variety of venues. He told Obama that Americans should smoke less and learn more languages. He lectured a roomful of businessmen at the US Chamber of Commerce about the benefits of redistributing wealth and raising workers’ salaries. He told students at American University that there are no “just wars.” Whatever the audience, he spoke extemporaneously and with such brutal honesty that it was hard not to love the guy. Here are 10 reasons you, too, should love President Mujica.

1. He lives simply and rejects the perks of the presidency. Mujica has refused to live at the Presidential Palace or have a motorcade. He lives in a one-bedroom house on his wife’s farm and drives a 1987 Volkswagen. “There have been years when I would have been happy just to have a mattress,” said Mujica, referring to his time in prison. He donates over 90% of his $12,000/month salary to charity so he makes the same as the average citizen in Uruguay. When called “the poorest president in the world,” Mujica says he is not poor. “A poor person is not someone who has little but one who needs infinitely more, and more and more. I don’t live in poverty, I live in simplicity. There’s very little that I need to live.”

2. He supported the nation’s groundbreaking legalization of marijuana. “In no part of the world has repression of drug consumption brought results. It’s time to try something different,” Mujica said. So this year, Uruguay became the first country in the world to regulate the legal production, sale, and consumption of marijuana. The law allows individuals to grow a certain amount each year and the government controls the price of marijuana sold at pharmacies. The law requires consumers, sellers, and distributors to be licensed by the government. Uruguay’s experience aims to take the market away from the ruthless drug traffickers and treat drug addiction as a public health issue. Their experiment will have reverberations worldwide.

3. In August 2013, Mujica signed the bill making Uruguay the second nation in Latin America (after Argentina) to legalize gay marriage. He said that legalizing gay marriage is simply recognizing reality. “Not to legalize it would be unnecessary torture for some people,” he said. In recent years, Uruguay has also moved to allow adoption by gay couples and openly gay people to serve in the armed forces.

4. He’s not afraid to confront corporate abuses, as evidenced by the epic struggle his government is waging against the American tobacco giant Philip Morris. A former smoker, Mujica says that tobacco is a killer that needs to be brought under control. But Philip Morris is suing Uruguay for $25 million at the World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes because of the country’s tough smoking laws that prohibit smoking in enclosed public spaces and require warning labels, including graphic images of the health effects. Uruguay is the first Latin American country and the fifth nation worldwide to implement a ban on smoking in enclosed public places. Philip Morris, the largest cigarette manufacturer in the United States, has huge global business interests (and a well-paid army of lawyers). Uruguay’s battle against the tobacco Goliath will also have global repercussions.

5. He supported the legalization of abortion in Uruguay (his predecessor had vetoed the bill). The law is very limited, compared to laws in the US and Europe. It allows abortions within the first 12 weeks of the pregnancy and requires women to meet with a panel of doctors and social workers on the risks and possible effects of an abortion. But this law is the most liberal abortion law in socially conservative, Catholic Latin America and is clearly a step in the right direction for women’s reproductive rights.

6. He’s an environmentalist trying to limit needless consumption. At the Rio+20 Summit in 2012, he criticized the model of development pushed by affluent societies. “We can almost recycle everything now. If we lived within our means – by being prudent – the 7 billion people in the world could have everything they needed. Global politics should be moving in that direction,” he said. He also recently rejected a joint energy project with Brazil that would have provided his country with cheap coal energy because of his concern for the environment.

7. He has focusing on redistributing his nation’s wealth, claiming that his administration has reduced poverty from 37% to 11%. “Businesses just want to increase their profits; it’s up to the government to make sure they distribute enough of those profits so workers have the money to buy the goods they produce,” he told businessmen at the US Chamber of Commerce. “It’s no mystery–the less poverty, the more commerce. The most important investment we can make is in human resources.” His government’s redistributive policies include setting prices for essential commodities such as milk and providing free computers and education for every child.

8. He has offered to take detainees cleared for release from Guantanamo. Mujica has called the detention center at Guantanamo Bay a “disgrace” and insisted that Uruguay take responsibility to help close the facility. The proposal is unpopular in Uruguay, but Mujica, who was a political prisoner for 14 years, said he is “doing this for humanity.”

9. He is opposed to war and militarism. “The world spends $2 billion a minute on military spending,” he exclaimed in horror to the students at American University. “I used to think there were just, noble wars, but I don’t think that anymore,” said the former armed guerrilla. “Now I think the only solution is negotiations. The worst negotiation is better than the best war, and the only way to insure peace is to cultivate tolerance.”

10. He has an adorable three-legged dog, Manuela! Manuela lost a foot when Mujica accidentally ran over it with a tractor. Since then, Mujica and Manuela have been almost inseparable.

Mujica’s influence goes far beyond that of the leader of a tiny country of only 3 million people. In a world hungry for alternatives, the innovations that he and his colleagues are championing have put Uruguay on the map as one of the world’s most exciting experiments in creative, progressive governance.

 

The Last Words of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi

If there was a country in Africa that had an admirable social welfare system, it was Libya. At the height of Gaddafi’s rule, Libya was the richest country in Africa and fewer people lived below the poverty line than in the Netherlands. However, recent reports about the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians by ISIS in Libya, exposes the magnitude of lawlessness which has plagued the country since the fall of Gaddafi. Libya is currently ruled by militia groups who were once the united rebels who managed to topple Gaddafi’s regime in 2011. In early January 2015, the head of US Defense intelligence warned of the growing influence of ISIS in countries like Libya, which are compounded with governance issues. Currently, Libya has two governments, one based in Tripoli and the other in Tobruk. And Benghazi, the second largest city in Libya, is controlled by Islamist fighters with links to al-Qaeda.
In 2011, the British Prime Minister David Cameron and the French President Nicolas Sarkozy, travelled to Libya in the wake of a defeated Gaddafi. A jubilant crowd received Cameron and Sarkozy as the liberators of Libya that was to begin a new lease of life after Gaddafi’s tyrannical regime.

Cameron addressed the crowd saying “It is great to be in a free Benghazi and in a free Libya”.

Sarkozy also addressed the crowd and in his speech he had this to say, “You wanted peace, you wanted liberty, you want economic progress. France, Great Britain and Europe will be on the side of the Libyan people”

Cameron and Sarkozy reassured the population of Libya that Gaddafi was cornered and that Libya was to be free of his despotic rule.

The last minutes of Gaddafi’s life were captured on video by one of the rebel fighters Ali Algadi, who filmed a captured bloody and dazed Gaddafi. Both Gaddafi and his son Mo’atissim were captured alive, but were later reported to have died at the hands of the rebels who captured them in Sirte. Amnesty International and UN human rights officials raised concerns with the dubious way that Gaddafi and his son died, when conflicting reports of their deaths surfaced.

This should have been the first indication of what was to become of Libya which was once a prosperous and peaceful country. However, Libyans and the West hailed Gaddafi’s death as a victory for freedom and democracy, but what they did not realise is that some of the rebels they were aiding were Islamic radicals with known links to terrorist organisations.

Since the fall of Gaddafi, it is difficult to talk about Libya as a nation-state because the country has broken up into city-states. The central government which is supposed to be based in Tripoli has little control of affairs in a country which is ruled by about a 1000 militias. In 2012, the US ambassador to Libya was killed in Benghazi when a group of militants stormed his compound. In early 2014, there were attempts to unify Libya through a draft constitution, but the process failed miserably due to minimal support by the Libyans. Only 500,000 people participated in the votes of the draft constitution, when about 3 million people turned out to vote in the parliamentary elections in the previous year.

Since the fall of Gaddafi, Libyans have bemoaned the greed for power and money that has consumed militia groups who have reined terror in the once prosperous country. GlobalPost engaged with civilians on the streets of Tripoli and all of them complained about the current situation in Libya. On the streets, no one openly embraced Gaddafi’s rule, but in private many spoke fondly of the period before the revolution that was under Gaddafi’s rule. One rebel fighter said:

“I would say the majority of Libyans used to like Gaddafi and they still like Gaddafi especially now they see the chaos…But none of them can say this in public. In Gaddafi’s time we were all afraid of the regime, but now we have multiple powerful groups in Libya. Now you don’t know who could arrest you, detain you, beat you or even kill you without shame”

Another Tripoli native refused to believe that Gaddafi’s tenure was better even though a lot of people in Tripoli thought so. He believes that it is normal for a country to go through turmoil after a war, and he is optimistic that things will change in Libya.

It should be disheartening for some of the Libyan people to witness the destruction that has engulfed Libya since the fall of Gaddafi. NATO played a pivotal role in defeating Gaddafi, but they have chosen to ignore the chaos that is Libya today and leading western countries such as the United States, France and the United Kingdom, have all shut down their embassies. The task of brokering peace between the many militia factions in Libya has been left to the UN mediator, Bernadino Leon who has called it a difficult task.

Thus, it is not rash to suggest that the West should therefore bear a large part of the responsibility for the destruction of Libya because they were the ones who supported the rebels to topple Gaddafi. In fact some intellectuals have suggested that Western countries were at the forefront of orchestrating regime change in Libya, primarily because they were after oil, and profit from trading arms with the new regime that would be installed (see another source here). Whichever way one chooses to view the intervention, it was very premature for the West to support rebels they knew very little about, and evidently, we can all see now that their involvement in the Libyan civil war has helped to hand the country over to militias and Islamic fundamentalists of all shades.

The change the West promised the Libyan people is a far cry from the benefits that the Libyan citizen used to enjoy under Gaddafi’s rule. Under Gaddafi’s rule some of the benefits for a Libyan citizen included free electricity, no interest on bank loans, all newlyweds would receive US$50,000 from the state to buy an apartment, the country had no external debt and 87 percent of the population was literate. Gaddafi was indeed a dictator, and like all dictators, had a long list of imperfections and human rights abuses to his name. No one sensible can condone that list of errors.

But if you take an objective view of the situation from then and up till now, then it is clear that recent events in Libya prove that the country was far better off under Gaddafi’s rule, than under the so-called NTC government (and subsequent governments of the General National Congress and Council of Deputies), which again and again have demonstrated their failure to govern or unite the country.

The last words of  a bloodied Gaddafi did not make sense when he posed the question to his captors,

“Do you know right from wrong?”

After all the bloody chaos (recently the beheading of Coptic Christians by Isis), one would hope that some of those militants who blindly fought Gaddafi’s rule under some misguided anti-dictator cum liberation sentiment now know right from wrong.

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Does Education matter in Malawian Politics?

We vote for politicians because we want our country to do better. We stand queueing for hours to pick a president and member of parliament of our choice. We wait anxiously by the radio for results, but it seems that no matter who we elect in Malawi, we end up being disappointed. By now we all know that most Malawian politicians are opportunists who have over the years acquired impeccable skills in ‘party migration’. They are skilled in image reinvention and tactful only when their personal interests are on the line. For years, politicians in Malawi have played this game with us and I wonder whether education has a part to play in all of this.  Is it because we have set the bar too low for politicians in terms of education?

Politicians are a special people because billions of people in the world  depend on them to solve the many global societal problems. In representative democracies, politicians are employed to make policies which reflect the wants and needs of the electorate. Through political manifestos, the electorate make choices on who is better poised to govern and through the ballot box, politicians are entrusted with the most important jobs on earth. It is therefore important that the electorate through their choices pick the best men and women who have the ability to achieve positive results for their countries.

box-321776_640The phenomenon of globalisation has changed the nature of international politics through the interconnectedness of different states in the world. Transnational Corporations have sprung up all around the world. States co-operate with each other on inter-state relational matters through international organisations such as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation to name a few. The game of politics has changed at the world stage and competition between states through international treaties requires witty  politicians to make positive gains for their respective countries. For countries to win, there is need to employ politicians that have the necessary skills in international politics to compete with their counterparts. The international stage is where all the treaties concerning trade, security, the environment and other pressing national matters are negotiated. It is where our fate as a country is sealed through our negotiation skills and capabilities.

Malawi being part of this competitive global world needs brilliant minds to compete at the international level with other countries. Whatever politicians do at the domestic level still has an impact on us as a nation because we are living in a globalised world. We need capable minds that can be able to sit and challenge ‘hand me down’ policies that have for years held African countries down. Malawi needs people who can initiate policies that can increase our comparative advantage in the area of international trade. I therefore believe that it is only through education that we can be able to disseminate the complex world of inter-state  relations in the new liberal world order.

It is therefore questionable that the most important jobs in the country only require an ‘o’ level certificate as the minimum qualification.  Some of the leaders we elect in our parliament only have an ‘o’ level certificate and it is highly doubtful that knowledge attained at this level can produce minds that can initiate structural transformation in Malawi. Politicians are responsible for developing countries, and the content and scope of knowledge at ‘o’ level is insufficient  for one to grasp the intricate world of development theories. If we are serious about advancing our standing at the international stage, an ‘o’ level mind will not be able to compete with the many brilliant minds out there. The international realm is about competition and if we are to have a chance at diversifying our economy, then a Malawi School Leaving Certificate will fail us.

This country fails because we employ people who are not qualified for their jobs. We have seen ministers heading ministries with the wrong qualification or without any tertiary qualification on their portfolios. We have seen ambassadors being appointed to head embassies without any prior qualification or knowledge in international relations/politics. We have some members of parliament who only have an ‘o’ level certificate and then we wonder why these MPs spend 5 years just clapping hands as solutions to our problems. We have councillors that do not even know what town planning is all about and then we wonder why a nightclub is opened next to people’s homes.

This is why our parliament is passive when it comes to enforcing the clauses in laws in section 65. This is why our presidents to not even care to declare their assets at the start of their term as required by law. Parliamentarians are supposed to ensure that the constitution of Malawi is respected by all political parties. However, time and again, our MPs let us down because most cannot even realise the seriousness of not upholding the constitution.

I therefore firmly believe that Malawi needs tertiary educated politicians starting from top to bottom. And if they are educated, their qualification should be at least relevant to their posting. We need politicians who are qualified to grasp the challenges facing a developing country such as Malawi. Most non governmental organisations doing developmental work at the district level in this country require staff with a tertiary education. It is then absurd that the most important jobs in this country only requires a secondary school education.