23Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you; but I will instruct you in the good and right way. 24Only fear the Lord [with awe and profound reverence] and serve Him faithfully with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. 25But if you still do evil, both you and your king will be swept away [to destruction].” 1 Samuel 12:23-25

 An elderly lady that I work with, prays with her five children every day, two of whom are adults living with severe disabilities. The prayer is simple but is a declaration that is daily and religiously uttered in one accord, every morning before they embark on their daily tasks. For 31 years Malawians prayed for their leaders, specifically Kamuzu (on a mountain in Blantyre, at Kamuzu Stadium we wrote and prayed “Long Live Kamuzu”. God heard Malawians and Kamuzu ruled Malawi for 31 years. This was way beyond the patience and tolerance of many Malawians. By 1994, it was almost like, “good riddance, Kamuzu is gone! Hooray, we are free!”

But, out with Kamuzu, gone too were the national prayers that held the country together. In the last 27 years, Malawians have stopped praying for their leaders, for their country in one accord. On their part, leaders have stopped advising, encouraging, or directing the people they are elected to serve. The result is that Malawi has become a country of disappointment after disappointment, confusion, unmet and unfulfilled desires and promises. This is topped by massive country-wide corruption, massive countrywide poverty, and massive countrywide upsets.

Francis Dixon in his study titled The Sin of prayerlessness states three important things Malawians must consider.

1. When we do not pray we sin against God. Prayerlessness is a sin against God because it hinders His purposes…… Some things can only happen by prayer, and when we do not pray these things do not happen!

2. When we do not pray we sin against others. Notice in 1 Samuel 12:23 “…for you.” We live in a world which is filled with people who are spiritually and morally broken and bleeding. By prayer we can secure the healing touch of the Great Physician for the suffering ones around us. Not to pray for them is to deprive them of His healing, and therefore by not praying for our fellow-men we sin against them. Just pause and think of all that would happen in your church if you, and others with you, would really take prayer more seriously!

3. When we do not pray we sin against ourselves. Prayer changes the one who prays! The first big result of prayer is the reflex result, the blessing that comes into the heart and life of the one who prays.

Malawi, let us get back to praying for our leaders and our country.

To our leaders, let us hear your voices repeatedly! Reiteration being the operative word. Equally important is the unpacking of the meaning of words in English and in Chichewa.

For example, what is corruption? Is there a Chichewa, Tumbuka, Yao, Lomwe word for it? .What are examples of corruption? Various concepts must be explained to ordinary Malawians. An example: how does the government create jobs? For his worth, Kamuzu used to say that “development will not come to Malawi like manna from heaven, every Malawian has to contribute to this through hard work.” And the beauty of this is that Malawians heard Kamuzu parrot this song for 31 years. Thus, they knew, to make money or get rich, to get development, one must work hard (for most that meant working in the fields).

Ironically, in the last 27 years, despite Malawians disputing that all development was wrongly attributed to Kamuzu (he did not build the buildings, roads, or run companies himself, others did), Malawians expect that like a magic trick (or manna from heaven) one million jobs are going to be created by the Tonse government, or that Muluzi was going to supply shoes for every Malawian.

As a people, Malawians should be encouraged, and this is only a start, to pray for their leaders and country, so that it may go well with them (1 Timothy 2:1-3). On their part, leaders must encourage Malawians to be part of the development conversation, putting their proverbial pennies worth to the wellbeing of the country.

Songs that the dancing mbumba women from the Women’s League give an indication of some of the prayers and declarations:

1.      Let us have children! Who is going to look after them? Kamuzu will look after them.

2.      Hello, hello, hello! We are women of Malawi, we have come here to see the Ngwazi, we are living in happiness, we have freedom, we have development all because of the Ngwazi.

3.      Other songs joyfully touted the numerous projects like the road, rail and ship passage in Nsanje, move of the capital city to Lilongwe that was part of a three-dream package (University in Zomba, capital in Lilongwe, and Lakeshore Road) that were Kamuzu’s Gweru Prison vision were the liturgy that moved the country as a nation. As a nation, Malawians were in a unified boast of self-well-wishing infused in prayers for self and country.

All was well, except for the human rights abuses, cling to power that Malawians must admit can also be attributed to many of persons that were benefitting from the national cake and Kamuzu rule. Kamuzu was kept in power, until the events of three countries: two of them united into one (Germany), and one (the Soviet Union of socialist Republics – USSR) disintegrated into 20 new countries (among them Ukraine, Romania, Armenia, Moldova, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Latvia, and others). Former African dictatorships, among them Malawi, Côte d’Ivoire and others that not only had one party, one president since gaining independence from colonial rulers like France, Great Britain (now United Kingdom), Portugal, started getting demands for the establishment of multi-party governance in the early 1990’s.

Regrettably, for Malawi, although we got to multi-party rule (where truckloads of political parties have entered the fray of Malawian politics, out with Kamuzu’s one-party rule was the national song for Malawi’s wellbeing, the prayers for country and leaders that nourished the country’s spinal cord and will, prayers in one accord.

To the country’s peril, Malawi proverbially threw out the baby and the bath water in 1974, and as it came out of the clutches of one-party rule, Malawi also stopped the prayers for leader and country. It dismantled the unity wishes into a myriad of selfish prayers, jostling “me, me, me” gibberish and babblings into the heavenly realms like chickens dancing in the mud.

Thus, when a good thing comes along like Bingu, Joyce or Lazarus, in a bid to get ahead, selfish persons spoil it, throw mud at it, manipulate it, spill the beans when things don’t get their way, and Malawi continues to wobble along as if things have not changed, as if Malawi is not one country.

Malawi! Stop singing to the earthly leaders and pray to the Master in heaven for guidance and advice. Stop being little villages: Malawians can be from different parties, but Malawians must have one unified dream of the new Malawi, the good, Malawi, free from personal and corrupt gain.

Happy Kamuzu Day!

Pray, Malawi pray!

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