Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Power, Fire, Suffering

Change has come to Malawi and sooner than citizens of the country expected.  My advice to the new administration is take power as fire.  Prudently utilised, fire is a good servant, but unwisely used makes it a bad servant. Use power sparingly and lbehave as if you do not have this resource.  Malawians, I suspect, do not like overt and too much use of power by those in authority!   Look back to my entry on the previous regime's obsession with the flag change titled Learning from Others posted on 19 July 2010.  Part of  of it says:  "My simple advice to government is please listen to the people, don't force on the citizenry things they do not want, lest you find that by ignoring the dissenting voices you had engaged in a self-destruction mode or had a embraced a 'death-wish' that similarly destroyed your predecessors."
The new government had better listen to the rural masses and not act contrary to their cries! Selah!

On another note, suffering is so real in Malawi.  I keep thinking how the recent  devaluation of the local currency, (kwacha) will worsen the plight of the orphans, the widows, people with disabilities and the elderly. I keep hearing on the radio that government  in collaboration with donors will put in place measures to mitigate the impact of the change in value of the kwacha.  But how? Will my grandmother of over 80 be put on social security to receive a sizeable monthly stipend? Will there be price subsidies for the vulnerable groups? Otherwise I fear the pledges are mere hot air,  or empty talk!

Some days ago, I met a 13-year old girl from Balaka, Queen,  who lost both parents. She says her  guardians had told her they could no longer support her. Queen travelled to Blantyre to look for some family she knows to try to ask for help.  With a large sisal bag in hand Queen said 'all I want is a home where I can grow up and finish my education'.  It broke my heart to see such suffering.

Just yesterday I saw a man slumped in pain at the gates of Malawi College of Health Sciences in Blantyre. The man was near death because he was struggling to speak and looked sickly. He gave me a note which had some personal details.  I asked the guard at the Health Sciences institution to call Police Rapid Response on 990. The security official said it was none of his business or that of the college. Shocking!  I was already late for a meeting. I tried to call 990 but got no response.  I requested one of my former students, to get help  for the stricken man.  I still tried 990 as I walked to the meeting but nobody was responding.  I was saddened by the callous attitude of the guard and the lack of response from the police help line.