Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing, which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. – Luke 2: 15b
The year 2019 has bestowed Malawi a few uglies, some very bad times, and countable good occasions. A thorough look at the events taking place in Malawi, however, clearly shows that as it sails into 2020 the country is failing to transform into a “God-fearing nation.” In the country’s 55 years of independence, and 25 of democratic rule, Malawi has been cruising and spiraling down the path of retrogression.
While some may disagree, and believe that Malawi has developed, especially after attaining democrat rule in 1994, and even advancing the view that there was little development under Kamuzu Banda’s one-party rule, the reality is that Malawi is worse off in democracy than it was in the one-party state. The year 2019 epitomizes this in numerous examples. Two will be highlighted; the third reflects hope for the coming year 2020.
In the first example, I again borrow the wisdom of Sean Kampondeni, whose eloquent summation of the Constitutional Court proceedings casts a big shadow of ugly doom and peril for the government under President Peter Mutharika, who was declared the winner in the Malawi Tripartite Elections, despite over 140 complaints.
As the court proceedings drew close to the year’s end, summations by Malawi Congress Party chief counsel, Mordechai Msiska (SC) made extremely interesting observations, quoting the Constitution. Among them was that although required by the Malawi Constitution, there was neither anyone in the courtroom to represent the Commissioners, nor was there any transparency in the manner the MEC (a Constitutionally-established Independent entity) conducted its delegation of those representing them either in the court or during the activities of post-election, viz signing of election sheets.
Msiska also threw water on the submission by Malawi Law Society whom he declared to be deficient in research, analysis, and thought coupled with failure to do the court justice to shed light on foggy matters, which is expected of Amicus Curiae (friend of the court) such as the MLS.
Analysts’ view of current justices from Chief Justice Nyirenda, MEC Chair Ansah, to the distinguished five-member ConCourt panel of justices, there appears to be none that can light a candle to Msiska, who promised to come back in the morrow for more befuddlement of those hearing him. He was literally the grand tutelage, and one of the finest legal minds in Malawi!
The case has unearthed horrendous anomalies that implicate many Malawian officials being complicit in the big shake-shake of the elections. And as with the USA Speaker Nancy Pelosi, don’t mess with Msiska!
In the dying days of the year 2019, Malawi has been hit in the stomach with the news of Masongola Hotel (Former Government Hostel) going up in flames. Called a monumental loss of history. According to a scholar of history, the building was the country’s first State House or Palace; the name Masongolacomes from its architectural design.
It was constructed in 1887 by John Buchanan (C.C.A. P Blantyre Mission agronomist and gardener) who was commissioned to construct befitting residence and consulate for British Consul (Later called Governor) following the declaration of Nyasaland as British Protectorate and Zomba as a government seat. It was first occupied by Consul A.G.Hawes who commissioned its construction and later on from 1889 Sir Harry Johnstone himself occupied it when he was appointed Consul.
Because the building had two sharp-pointed roofs or hexagonal towers at both ends (Madenga osongola) local people used to say *tikupita ku nyumba ya madenga osongola ija (We’re are going to the house with pointed roofs).
There appears to be double twists to this fire of what should be one of the historical sites in the country. Once sold to former Vice President Justin Malewezi, it appears the property was sold to some Indians. It is alleged the new owners had applied for a permit to refurbish the building into a modern structure. The application was refused because the structure is a listed building protected under the antiquities Act.
The day fire broke out, it appears the fire brigade was called more than three hours later when the building had been gutted to an irredeemable state.
As a scholar of history, I weep at the enormity of this loss of our heritage. It is a very bad incident. As Malawians, we must all diligently guard as a hawk all our national assets. One of the reasons Malawi officials must refrain from handing over relics of our past willy nilly to the nearest and highest buyer is because there are persons in Malawi whose allegiance is not with Malawi. Then there are also Malawians with ill intent that set ablaze buildings for fraud or to conceal forever, evidence of wrongdoing.
These burning of buildings puts a big dent on Malawi’s development agenda.
Is there hope for Malawi? On December 7, 2019, Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke passed away. In his 60-year work as an evangelist (holding massive crusades that gathered millions of people in an arena) Bonnke touched many African countries, including Malawi.
He arranged two crusades in Malawi, the first being in 1986. Apart from leading over seven million people to accept Jesus Christ, Bonnke’s work in Africa also sparked, enhanced, and helped catapult evangelical ministries and the rise of independent churches.
In remembering evangelist Reinhard Bonnke and the tremendous good work he did in Africa, and Malawi, there is hope still, that Malawi can gallop into 2020 and attain the God-fearing nature as it advances to 2063.