Talking Blues: Show up, Mr President

Talking Blues: Show up, Mr President
Talking Blues: Show up, Mr President

Africa-Press – Malawi. Instead of my usual monologue, I want to share some stuff I picked up on social media. The first is an open letter written passionately and, if I may add, respectfully by a citizen of Malawi.

Am I authorised to share it? Is sharing it ethical? I believe I am allowed to and should share it because, as you will see in the letter, the writer has asked those who can to try and get the president to read it.

Therefore, unedited here is the letter. “Dear Dr Lazarus Chakwera, You will pull through this. You will overcome and triumph. Please hold your head up. Hang in there and face tomorrow.

Certainly, you will wake up one morning and make a wrong decision. We all do. And that’s okay. Someone you trust will not take your directive the way you instruct.

That, too, happens. You will not always know what is required. That’s possible. They will not always tell you what’s necessary. Someone will betray you. They do to all of us. But still, show up, your Excellency.

I cannot say I know what it feels like to be you right now, for I have never been in those shoes, not even once. But for one thing, I know exactly what it feels for a man to be down.

Everyone thinks you are stronger. They all think it’s nothing for you. You break and tear apart. No one catches a drop of the tear. For they do not see it.

You obviously do not know everything. And no one does, anyway. But may the people that know something come through to you. And may you have the courage and energy to embrace them all. And distil.

I may not always agree with you, but the future of my children and my people between now and 2025 depends, in part, on what you do, day by day. I need to make sure you succeed for my and their sake.

I don’t know how, but I want to believe you will come out joyous and robust. I want to believe you now need to be better, show better and do better. And that you will always mean good. For our good.

I thought to tell you that you have all it takes to shine. And that whatever will come your way will be dealt with. Also that you are leaning against the right wall. You should.

I have no way of talking to you. I even failed to tag you. I hope someone close to you reads this and takes a screenshot for you if it is worth it. Or at least copy it.

May you excel in your drive. I wish you well. Sincerely, HM”. I neither want to crowd out the earnest appeal nor tone the message up or down; hence I will refrain from commenting on it. After all, I am not the addressee.

However, being Mapwiya Muulupale, I owe you a weekly full-page worth of food for thought, and here we go. During a research experiment, a marine biologist placed a shark into a large holding tank and then released several small bait fish into the tank.

Typically, the shark swam around the tank, attacking and eating the smaller fish. Next, the marine biologist inserted a strong piece of clear fibreglass into the tank, creating two separate partitions. She then put the shark on one side of the fibreglass and a new set of bait fish on the other side.

Again, the shark quickly attacked. This time, however, the shark slammed into the fibreglass divider and bounced off. Undeterred, the shark kept repeating this behaviour every few minutes to no avail. Meanwhile, the bait fish swam around unharmed in the second partition. Eventually, about an hour into the experiment, the shark gave up.

This experiment was repeated several dozen times over the next few weeks. Each time, the shark got less aggressive and made fewer attempts to attack the bait fish until, eventually, the shark got tired of hitting the fibreglass divider and simply stopped attacking altogether.

The marine biologist removed the fibreglass divider, but the shark didn’t attack. The shark was by now hardwired to believe a barrier existed between it and the bait fish, so the bait fish swam wherever they wished, free from harm. The point I want to make here is that after suffering setbacks and failures, it is human to give up and stop trying.

Like the shark in the story, we can quickly begin to (wrongly) believe that because we were unsuccessful in the past, we will always be unsuccessful. We continue seeing a mental barrier even when no ‘real’ barrier exists between where we are and where we want to go.

This seems to be the situation that President Lazarus Chakwera has found himself in. True, there was Covid-19. But with the same Covid-19, didn’t the High Court and later the Supreme Court of Malawi hold the marathon 2019 Elections Case and pursue it to its logical conclusion without any excuses whatsoever?

Yes, Covid-19 disrupted business and brought entire countries to a standstill. But with Covid-19 raging even here in Malawi, wasn’t Justice Chifundo Kachale tasked at short notice to preside over and deliver the historic Fresh Presidential Election 2020, which he did with distinction?

I will give a third example: Madam Martha Chizuma made a name and won over Malawians’ hearts during the early part of President Chakwera’s term in her previous role. Covid-19 did not stop her from clearing the rubble that needed clearing.

So, what is the matter with President Chakwera? I posit that he is suffering from the mentality of the poor shark in the experiment above. He firmly believes that no matter what he does, he will fail.

As a result, when the war erupted in Ukraine, rather than seeing and taking it as an opportunity to boost food exports, he misinterpreted it as yet another “fibreglass” and an excellent reason to fail Malawians. This attitude Mr President is the very definition of losers.

Like the author of the letter above, I realise President Chakwera has three more years. Should he insist on failing to lead, he will condemn eighteen million people to three more years of hell, with dire consequences.

My appeal to President Chakwera is along the lines HM has made. Leading is not presiding over mundane events in the functional outfit of the day. Leading is not reading speeches. Radio announcers, preachers and teachers read stuff out all the time. We do not necessarily call them leaders because an adequately trained parrot could also deliver a speech. Leading means showing up, and it’s high time President Chakwera showed up to lead from the front or moved over.

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