Thursday, October 7, 2010


Never in the 21st Century has there been a word or a concept accepted at a supersonic speed as the word ‘democracy’. Democracy, from since it was first used in the pre-Christian era, is widely believed to be the safest and fairest system of political and social organisation.
It is painted, in such grandly ornamented language, as the only system without which humanity has no hope to fair judgement, equality before the law, freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of conscience, and what have you. These features have enjoyed proclamation in such great historic documents as the US declaration of independence; the French declaration of the rights of man and of the citizen, which affirmed the principles equality before the law and of civil liberty; and the Atlantic charter, which formulated the four basic freedoms.

Given its spiced description, it is not surprising therefore, that, with almost maddening alacrity, by the middle of the 20th century, almost every independent country in the world had a government that, in form or in practice, embodied some of the principles of this system. Having witnessed the ideals of democracy widely professed, have the ideals of this system practiced and fulfilled?. After having tested its fruits, is democracy what is that it is or claimed to be, or a carefully-concocted tale of a concept in which demon-cracy hides?

Democracy is defined as government of people by people for the people. The phrases government of people and by people are of least importance, at least for the purposes of this article, as they arguably lack socio-political ideology investments. The final phrase for the people however, is pregnant with ideologies, and to this the article turns its attention to. The caveat in the phrase for the people is the preposition for which has 22 different meanings according to Microsoft Encarta 2007. In this phrase, however, for means intended/designed/meant to benefit people, or most precisely, the citizens.

Generally speaking, if something, or say, a house, has been bought with the sole intention or design that children benefit from it, it logically follows that the guardian should do everything he can with the proceeds from the house to promote the children’s wellbeing. In that it is meant that the guardian should do things that have good effect on all the children, without overt or covert discrimination.

It is upon this understanding that democracy is premised, and said to be a representation of the citizenry. Stated clearer, it is a right to a form of government in which power to hire and fire is invested in the citizens as a whole, with the hired representatives, it should be emphasized here, exercising the power on the citizens’ behalf. This conceptualization of democracy tarries with the major features of democracy as it is said such as individual freedom, which entitles citizens to the liberty and responsibility to shape their own opinions and to conduct their own affairs; equality before the law; and universal suffrage and education, all intended to benefit the populace.

We assume someone did not know the meaning of democracy, after this article, it may be categorically said they have known its meaning, if they were asked, ‘’given this definition of democracy, do you think we’ve democracy in the world, or in Malawi in particular?”. Your guess of their answer is as good as mine, and no mistake about that.

It is a sad fact that in the name of a supposedly emancipatory democracy, the world is, evidently, subjected to demon-cracy, that is, rule by people who are more than willing to cause harm, pain, and misery in the name of achieving their vested interests. It is a sadder fact that instead of promoting freedom of speech, freedom of association, and equality before the law, the king-making populace is taken as nothing but toothpicks with which the kings they have made use, misuse, and abuse with first grade impunity. And, to boot, saddest is the fact that the king-making populace is so politically and intellectually naive as to fail to realize the wisdom in the age old adage, “what’s beaten twice shy”.

If you were to ask me whether, in Malawi, we had, have, (or will have?) democracy or demon-cracy, I would answer you, “the latter”.


What takes one to be in leadership is arguably elusive and situtional. This be as it may, what is known for sure, though, is that in any grouping, whether social or political, members of the group feel a real need to choose a leader. Whether this need is just natural to humanity or that humanity has just insatiable desire to have a leader is beyond the present discussion. Surprisingly enough, this need to have a leader seems to be universally cherished with alacrity.

To begin with, in any choosing of a leader, the single most important, universally-appealing quality that leaderchoosers look for in who they want to be their leader is the person’s ability—or say—flexibility to glide out of awkward situations where angels gets buffled. That is, the person’s natural or cultivated ability to timely come up with effective solutions where the led are in dire need of one. This the leader may do alone or with assistance from the led, whichever, in which case the leader plays a very unparallelled central role, overall.

It is may be categorically argued here that problem-solving is not a simple matter, and requires a lot more than witticism, ingenuity and pragmatism. For to try to come up with an intelligible studied solution to a thing mind-boggling is being miles away from coming up with one. Nonetheless, to come up with a solution is to vouchsafe ones leadership capability—whether disaproved, agreed upon or contested—and is, in and of itself, evidence enough that the person is deservedly warranted to lead for his/ her leadership is indeed is.

Pontification, self-praise, cronyism and bias are self-destructive and are not solution-getters, that is, instead of attracting supporters have the boomeranging effect of atrracting enemies. And, for this reason, it is precarious for a leader to base ones solutions on them, no matter what opportunists and sycophants say or do. For, if the leader does not take cognizance of this, he/she runs the risk of being derangingly insultive to the led, for how would the led trust the judgment mired by these leadership eyesores. If this be the majority’s case, the leader and associates would better rethink, otherwise it’s a sign that a fatal nose-dive fall is on the horizon. Its easy to know when it reaches this stage as almost every Jane and Janet every James and John talk ills of the leader, for talking about the leader’s wells becomes self-incriminating and greatly undermines the force in the led’s disenchantment. This is not of leadership should be every inch avoided by the leader.

Stopping someone from opiniatedly expressing ones ‘iconoclastic’ opinion does not make ones solutions to socio-political, eco-cultural ills any better either. This does not imply giving free-freedom to the led to vomit whatever they dreamt the previous night(s) is helpful, no!, but, it would be absurd to fail to distil the senses in the led’s ‘nonsenses’. A leader who does this reaches the pinnacle of leadership perfectness, and such a stage does not just come by as it craves for a kind of mental sifting, which, in this case, it refers to getting riddance of , possibly all, derailing forces such as paranoia and self-serving advice from associates. That said, what we call solution here is not that algorithmic way of bringing a problem to its end, but rather, by ‘solution’ it is meant ‘first of its kind way, at least in that situation, of remedying a malady’.

I assert that the one we choose to lead us is nothing but a mere expression and reflection of what we want. And if this assertion be held to be true, then true too is the obviously logical fact that he/she has to toll the line that we, the led, have ordered him, not let choose, to use. For, if I want this, then whom I choose to bring that this to me has to as ordered, otherwise I would be disenchanted with his or her action. And by this statement it is meant that leaders lead us to places, thoughts, actions, plans etcetera of our choice and that shall be conceived as an order, and therefore no reason for negotiation whatever.

It may also be logically argued that once the led choose a leader, then, loosely, it follows that they have transferred their choices to him/her in that they give the leader the leeway –or say discretion—to make some choices and decisions on our behalf and come up with solutions to problems on our behalf. By this it is meant that we choose leaders who we see as outstanding in most of the important senses of the word ‘outstanding’, and, to boot, who we see as capable of exercising judgment that we may all, majoritorily, trust and express no reservations about.

As grand sounding and practical this ideal leadership may be, conversely ,the fact of life is that such a thing is far from being achieved and closer to being a first rate pipe dream. Whatever this latter statement means, the truth of the matter still remains that leaders who toll the majority line are, naively or something else, identified with such phrases as real leaders, good leaders or perfect leaders if you like it. After all who does not like anything close to the ideal? Therefore, the leader should strive to reach the ideal, for all practical purposes.