Malawi: Dzuka Malawi – Proud Nation of Beggars – Bushiri and Our Begging Bowls

Sometime in early 2008, Leonard Sharra, the sports journalists who wrote great stories nobody has ever matched, wrote a political story. It was about the Charge D’affaires of Peoples Republic of China Pan Hejun (sorry if I miss the name). He was the Chinese first top envoy to Malawi after we changed our political philosophy (of course with bags of money and goodies included) and dumped Taiwan for mainland China.

I will write one day on Malawi-Sino relations, the fun, the abuse and the benefits. Probably later in the year after my relation gets a scholarship to study at the great China Normal University. If you don’t remember it, that’s where the late Professor Bingu wa Mutharika was awarded an honorary professorship. I have always wondered what the name “normal” means. I am still researching.

Back to Leonard Sharras story. He wrote that the top envoy complained “of the many begging bowls and requests for support from Malawians” since they opened the office. He went on to say, the Chinese were in Malawi not as donors, but friends of Malawi, who were willing to lend a helping hand to lift Malawi from its poverty trap.

He estimated that he had received “begging letters” from Government departments, NGO’s, sports teams, individuals, churches and choirs. I can swear before the statue of Chairman Mao, the Chinese received requests from the media too for football kits, vehicles, computers etc.

When the new Ambassador arrived Ling Songtian, the beggar’s numbers were huge. Nobody was ashamed to beg from the Chinese. Actually, think of it, we were competing in begging. Government begged roads, buildings and even stadiums when we have no sports teams of any reputation.

The excitement of begging resulted in the Lilongwe International Stadium, a loan with USD90 million, which we could have begged to industrialise some of major sectors in manufacturing. But hey who cares, we had to beg in millions of dollars, and we begged for a hotel in Lilongwe when we have been crying for a better facility in Salima or Lilongwe.

The only three things we begged right were the Chitipa-Karonga Road, MUST in Thyolo and Parliament building. The Hotel should have been in Mangochi or Salima, the stadium is simply a white elephant we will not even afford to run. Check now, young people desperate for income, are now stealing things from the stadium just to sale and earn food. We should have built a factory to employ them and develop their livelihood. That empty building will deteriorate while we repay the MWK60 billion kwacha loan including our grandchildren. I don’t clap hands for … ujeni.

Ambassador Songtian, one day while we were drinking during his national day, asked me as a teacher why would someone beg for condoms from the Chinese. My ears were all up. Apparently a sexual reproductive health NGO had asked for “chinese size condoms” for their outreach programmes. I was tongue tied and my naughty mind wondered “chinese size condoms” would not fit many Malawian males after all the existence of “nkhondo ku bed” “chinswabumbu” and good old “gondolosi.”

But anyway, we had to beg. We are a nation of beggars. Remember our first democratically elected President ‘Atcheya’ Bakili Muluzi. He used to say, “Ndikangowona mzungu mphuno psyuu basi ndimapempha”. We clapped hands for our beggars tag.

We beg for our medicines, we beg for our education, we beg for our food, we beg for our salaries, we beg for our “prophetic services”, literally Malawi begs for everything save for alcohol, sex and Morgan Heritage shows. We pay for only useless things and beg for everything in our life.

The most painful part is that we are not ashamed to beg. From our leaders to the last man. Most friends you will find them at a beer hall, they come on their own, they don’t call you, they will be drinking, once they see you they beg.

Weddings have been reduced to begging sessions that you end up being charged for the attire. The MC will announce all those wearing suits, then shirts, putting on black shoe, wearing g-string (asa how do they guess) and then wearing rings and glasses. If you want to save money at a wedding, wear a white robe like Apostolic or Zion church members, they will call you once or ignore you as you will be alone and useless.

I remembered all this after reading somewhere that our new financer and place of begging, Prophet Shepered Bushiri the Major One or Papa had accepted to build a library for Mzuzu university to the tune of MWK60 million. Yes the same Bushiri who has set MWK100 million for food relief. The same Bushiri who had sponsored the Malawi national football team with MWK45 million and donated blankets, maize and Plasma TV to prisons.

Without shame, we now hear football and even musicians all heading to Bushiri with a begging bowl. It is great that the Prophet is considering our request and prayers of begging, it is a shame that our officials sees nothing wrong with begging.

Let’s take the Flames. A game they can make MK20 million gate collection, over MK40 million TV rights, Carlsberg pumps in MK50 million a year and FIFA pumps into FAM over MK190 million a year. FAM has Chiwembe facility which is supposed to generate money. Flames gets support from Government here and there. There is a whole marketing team at FAM paid salaries to market and generate income for the Association. But nay, they are proud beggars. It does not matter where, they beg even from the Church.

The belief that there is easy money is killing Malawi today. We have cashgate, allowances claims, pure theft, fake hair, fake boobs, fake bums and even killing albinos believing we will get rich fast. Our love for begging and short cut to life is very irritating.

Dzuka Malawi: Prophet Bushiri works for his money. He wakes up everyday, prays, travels and spend hours generating his income. Why should FAM drink and party all its income and beg. I hope Prophet Bushiri will reconsider beggars and start investing in long term things like education, skills centres and even help Government build extra community colleges for our youth.

Dzuka Malawi, as long as we are proud beggars, we will die poor and miserable. The donor aid withdraw has been a blessing in disguise, we have reduced our borrowing, and our budget is trying to balance. If we all stopped begging and worked hard, our country would be independent and financially secure. Of course if the Prophet would like to “bless me” with MK25 million for my Dzuka Malawi radio and TV series, who am I to say no. I am not begging, just looking for “anointing.”

SOURCE: Nyasa Times