On the journey to Canaan the going is getting tough



Louis Nkhata

In July 2020, many Malawians except for the opposition were certain that the trip to the  Promised Land from Egypt to Canaan had started.

But behold! Is it not Baghdad now?

In fact, from the  campaign rhetoric the journey started even before the bus was fixed. Most Malawians counted their chickens  before the eggs hatched - prior to the voting day and unfortunately they were in the land of milk and honey before they left Egypt. 

The journey started on foot, believing that the bus would soon get fixed and find them along the way. To their dismay, came 2021, almost all the Canaan disciples are confused as to whether the bus they boarded is the very bus they were expecting or if they were to keep waiting for another. 

Others are of the view that it is the same bus but it has a malfunctioning GPS, which they assume instead of taking them to Canaan or back to Egypt, is rather redirecting them towards Baghdad or Iraq. 

On the other hand, some quarters are of the view that believing in the moving bus is nothing but a night mare. The bus has not even moved an inch. It still awaits the mechanic to fix it. 

As if not enough, the speculation is that the bus is very old such that there are no spares at the present-day dealership. The list of speculations goes on and on. 

But why is this the scenario? With the unending economic decay, the writing on the wall is clear that the life standard of most Malawians is worsening. Prices of essential goods have fluctuated exponentially for the commoner to afford. The prices of sugar, cooking oil, and even salt have sky rocked while the income for many remained constant. 

From the contemporary comments it is jokingly alleged that the trip to the land of milk and honey is in limbo. How uncertain, only God knows! For it depends on what is being fixed. Is it an engine or just a spare tyre? That has not been explained.

Nevertheless, some sectors have already concluded that the contemporary Babylonian situation is here to stay. The trip to Canaan is unquestionably impossible. Those of the contrary view however, insist that Malawians are on their way and are a few miles to Canaan. 

They look at the current suffering as emanating from the nation’s old wounds fixation and healing process. They are convinced that things have worsened on the lips the "pa ground sipali bo" refrain.

Not because the government of the day is falling to deliver but because the sorrow is part of preparatory process to the land of milk and honey. 

From a critical outlook of things, it is obvious that “things have fallen apart and that the center cannot hold anymore” to quote the legendary Chinualogu Achebe. The government has failed to make bold decisions for the common good especially in terms of  strategic and structural changes in the MDAs. 

Malawians are still under the bondage of the so-said Egyptian Pharaoh where all is engulfed in well punctuated talk day in and day out.

Comparing with the previous governments one can clear see that the government of the day has lost its perceived direction. The road is becoming narrower and narrower, full of thorny bushes and sour grapes. 

Malawians are failing to believe that promised land is a desert. While those on the driving sit have changed, other facilities remain unaltered. The bus still looks up to the very fraudulent old conductor, debauched mechanic, and  is using the very old used oil, worn-out tyres and dysfunctional headlights. 

No wonder it has become a culture that each new government claims to be preoccupied with fixing the mess left by its preceding government but in turn the fixer gets submerged into serious mess as well. 

Not hiding in the woods, one wonders if the Cabinet has ever been assessed. The picture painted so far is like every member of the cabinet is performing beyond expectation. 

From observing how previous government used to reshuffle cabinet and the promises made during a few public speeches, it seems politics not Politics is larger than development.

From the development angle, without wide consultations by our driver and mechanic the trip to Canaan will remain something that will be termed as a mere hallucination. 

Sarcastically, the world over will joke about the journey to Canaan over a dinner, tea parties and other casual meetings. The world over thinks that we are clowns who are never serious when it comes to walking the talk. We are better at "Ku Lubwa Lubwa” - mere talk.

For a commoner like me, we will joke about “Ulendo waku Kenani” when dinning over our compulsory delicacy “Bonya” which has substituted meat and when drinking Kachasu which has substituted Malawi Gin. 

Bring the hopes of Malawians back so that what is happening now should one day be taken as a night mare. Moving forward, let us think about balancing imports versus exports. Otherwise reality is coming to us slowly.

Louis Nkhata is Desk Officer for the Diocese of Karonga Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace writing in his personal capacity.

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