Malawi OP-ED 

On this road to 60 years of freedom in Malawi, still I pray…

By Janet Karim

25 When you enter the land that the Lord will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. 26 And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ 27 then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.'” – Exodus 12:25-27

“O God bless our land of Malawi, keep it a land of peace!” this has been our prayer; mine from life languishing on dusty roads of Ndirande, to the beautiful four lane boulevard of the Kamuzu Highway in Blantyre and another equally beautiful one in Lilongwe that bypasses the busy capital city center, and surprise of it all the Chiweta Road in the northern region, and other visible and invisible progress, I have a great cause to celebrate Malawi, my Malawi as she cruises to its 60th anniversary of independence from British rule. This week I call upon citizens of Malawi in cities, urban, and rural areas, to love, hug, embrace, and cherish our country, the calendar country that is 365 miles long and 52 miles wide.

Malawi is our promised land which our forefathers worked hard to build, guiding and guarding our heritage and frontiers, fought foreign invasions during the slavery era that was followed by more foreign invasions of colonialists, dictators and fear of civil wars in neighboring countries. Now that we are a democracy, and into the Third Reich, it is deeply saddening to hear Malawians – especially from the intelligentsia – clutching to the belief that the government must do things for them, others holding that the government has not done anything (a chant that is 60 year old) in its region. As the government is deemed not to be delivering as a failed government. This closely resembles the “Zonse zimene n’zaKamuzu Banda” (everything belongs to Kamuzu Banda) philosophy; a 60 year old philosophy that has transcended to whatever party has come to power.

Thirty years ago I was despondent, unhappy, disillusioned, and very disappointed in whom the country had elected to replace the first and former Life President Kamuzu Banda and the party known as the Government. I wanted to leave Malawi, my country. When I expressed this sentiment to my Uncle Dr. Charles Kahumbe, he challenged me by asking me “So, who are you going to leave this country to? Malawi is as much yours as the millions of other people. Stay here, together whether jointly or individually, let us do our bit. This is our country; we can make it right; but each and every one of us has a role to play.”

He was not only serious, but he was also right.

These past months, there has been the development of a trajectory, route, path that Malawians have steered and plunged into makes an analyst to wonder how it could be that Malawians are speaking either as if they are infants, maybe are still in the one party system of government, and definitely, the intolerance of differences of opinions is pooh-poohed, labeling of opposition political party members as if they are villains. Most discombobulating to all country-loving Malawians is that the government is not government is a failure, often delving into personal attacks of the top leadership, has many people affirming that the leaders should either resign or possibly voted out of office. However there are three very disturbing recent incidents that reveal my Malawi’s vulnerability, it is depressingly unwell, and in dire need of socio-econo-political medical attention. My Malawi is deathly sick; self-inflicted and missiles from foreign lands with the intent of making us fight each other.

The first is a series of videos that not only denigrates Malawi but all African countries where white speakers either say that Africa will remain receivers of manufactured commodities from the west; another threw a gas lighter into a oil drum labeled corruption, and have given a daily diet of the corrupt intent African leaders with one video clip advising that America should colonize the African countries, because the continent cannot manage its affairs. The foreigners overtones over the entire continent also use partnerships like the ACP-EU post-Cotonou agreement that introduced the “human rights” clause. In a trade partnership! Clearly the intent to control the country from the outside has reached a fever-pitch.

The second is regionalism with people calling each other out as tribalists. While some call for the demolition of tribal groupings; I have argued that the tribal groups should remain, however they should remain in their areas of origin. But there has in the last 60 years been no time lost for various people crying wolf and charging that their areas are largely ignored by the government; they claim this has led to regional inequality in progress. This has led to people criticizing and accusing consequent administration of regionalism. This martyrdom syndrome is voiced at every conversation. Much is based on unsubstantiated accusations and claims. Discussions on the topic often end up in personal attacks of the person one is engaged in the conversation

Lastly, political party loyalty that gives political parties a bad name has sadly through the sixty years given not only the political parties but the man or woman at the top. Also sad and deplorable intensity is the role of the police, who through the country’s sixty years have been used by even the low-level politicians to instruct the police to harass or intimidate Malawian citizens. Two recent clips show a man welding a phanga (axe), donning an MCP uniform and another equally inappropriate one by a DPP supporter. Both issue threats and warnings to non-supporters of their political parties and have no part in our democracy.

As Malawi limps toward the 60th anniversary of independence, the country is bleeding in various sectors; these have the kids (citizens of Malawi) fighting and lashing out at each other, with great inability to pull itself up out of the vortex, quagmire, or turbulence it finds itself thrust into.

As I strut about, proud of my black, red, and consider my Malawian roots, I am surprised and disappointed to hear my fellow Malawians of their disappointment about our beautiful country. Yes, there are a few things here and there in all the six administrations but let us take pride we have made it to this point still citizens of Malawi, a land that has been kept a land of peace! Where I see something needs to be done, let us do something to correct it rather than the finger-pointing or hurling insults. I am concerned this latter approach will lead to young people growing up not understanding the true meaning of a good citizen, a patriot, a citizen that defends against foreign intrusion; most of all a patriot that will love his/her country instead of admiring or envying Tanzania, Rwanda, or Zambia.

Next week: celebrating the heroes of Malawi’s development before and after one party rule in Malawi. Please send me a one page or three paragraph mention of achievement by your relation or friend that has added to Malawi’s development. I would like to include it in my article.

Send entries to

Related posts