3/13/2015

Decorating our past...painting the walls

President Peter Mutharika, whom I voted for on May 20, 2014, was in the commercial city of Blantyre not long ago. His agenda was visiting old buildings that exist in the city. Buildings that are used for business yet from a drone camera look of them one would be understood to think are ruins of an ancient kingdom excavated after millions of years buried under the labyrinth of chaos.

The President indicated the buildings need to be demolished so that new ones are built. Did he indicate any deadline for the excuse? No! He just said it and apparently expects the owners to follow his orders.

But, for those of us at least old enough and rational enough, we know the buildings will still stand. They will not be felled. Not renovated. Business will go on as usual. Probably, the closest they can come to being renovated is having white lime sprinkled on them.

For one hour, after the lime paint sprinkling, the buildings will shine and thereafter they will go back to the state they were in...business as usual. Nobody will bother.

And, it is so generous to assume the owners will even lime-paint their tattered ruins. Most of them, fearing nothing and nobody but themselves, forgot even that the whole state President visited them. They started merry making of profits the same moment the President showed his back.

That is our pathetic state. The regrettable place we are in. It appears, everything that is good, is never tied to a punishment or made a law. We trust so much the goodwill of the people in whose vocabulary the word 'goodwill'  does not exist. How sad!

Now, some of those buildings are old, they must be some kind of a heritage but when the world around us keeps changing and we ignore the things that make us keep going we should be sad. It is a depressing place to be in.

Somehow, we need to be visiting our history - preserved in those buildings - and paint them. Our past needs to be decorated, the way Mutharika just did.

In case you do not know, the news has been that Mutharika is failing the country. Reason? He took time in the week to commemorate two years of his three days detention.

Now, does this not sound an illogical argument? Well, I think it is an illogical argument. The conclusion does not come from the premises. Mutharika would not be failing the country simply by deciding to commemorate his arrest or painting the walls that housed him and then graffiti his name on the walls that he has painted.

Nevertheless, I think we should ask if it is really worthy it to commemorate a three day arrest.

I think, in all intents, it needs no commemoration of the grand type Mutharika had where he invited all his mates that he was jailed with. If he wants, or they want, Mutharika should be with his friends and talk about their arrest over a glass of wine or cocacola.  Our taxes can fund that, actually.

I think forcing the nation to remember that he was arrested is a waste. A total waste. There hardly is any need for us to start erecting monuments in honour of a man whose Presidency is yet to bear fruits.

I know my fellow Mutharika and DPP sympathisers are all hooting for Mutharika. I know they are daring us not to forget that Mutharika was a 'political prisoner'. But, if the President had thought of recollecting his arrest on the less popular Facebook page of his, few of us could have been bothered.

I was arrested, on a trumped up political charge by the same Joyce Banda who 'directed' the arrest of Mutharika, and I know how it feels to tell your story over and over again to a flattering audience but, resources permitting, I see no essence why I should involve the whole nation to remember my arrest. I mean, even if I become a President in a million years time, do I have to prove that I will arrest nobody on political grounds by reminding the whole nation I was arrested and even have a carnival attached to it?

Reminding a nation might not be evil, deciding to paint the walls of the dungeons we have slept in might not be ridiculous, neither do I find 'grafitting' on the walls a little childish but whose and which resources are used for such a display of narcissism?

The moment when Dausi was displaying his theatrical antics in the cell that housed them those three days should not just be understood within the context of a government official reminiscing his past, it was a vain attempt at humour that was footed by the tattered pockets of a poor government. That, no any person with the love for the Democratic Progressive Party and Mutharika can defend.

We should say the truth, and tell the truth, I and a million plus some figure others did not vote for Mutharika to engage on this glory-seeking exercise. I read his manifesto, I had seen the values that the party preached, I had heard and believed their repentance song and that is why I voted for them - aside the fact that aside the Mutharika-Chilima pair I never saw any other less confusing pair.

I think this time around as a party we in the DPP should concede that here we have given Malawians a raw deal by engaging in these vain pursuits of heroism and engaging history. Perhaps, we should have set an example by painting our government tattered buildings across the country, writing no graffiti on them, and then tell the President to go into the streets of Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Zomba and tell the owners of the buildings to either paint their walls properly or, if they cannot, they should demolish and rebuild.

There should be a timeline to this decree, and a penalty attached to defaulting it.

However, in the meantime, the President should engage in serious government pursuits and for a moment let us forget his date of marriage or the date of his arrest. It might be that the public broadcaster has nothing to broadcast but airing some ruling elite's commemoration of their three days of incarceration is of little benefit to the psyche of the nation.

And, before I pen out, those of you who say Mandela was arrested and never engaged in the vain pursuit of painting walls or 'grafitting' his name, have a problem - greater than the one of the six that decided to make merry of their day of arrest.

For starters, why do you need to pick some Mandela from outside your borders when your nation's history is littered with tales of people arrested for political crimes under a notorious 31 years of terror - one with an enviable 28 years to his name?

Anyway, how many books are there on Mandela's arrest, how many endorsed by Mandela himself?

Have you heard there is even a movie?