The rule of thumb about parenting spells, though not clearly, that a person has got to grow and man up to responsibilities. Arbitrary as the age is, the severing of emotional attachment with one’s guardians is an important step in the road to maturity. If one reaches this arbitrary age but does not detach oneself from motherly warmth, such one is said to be a mother’s boy, mama’s boy, or mummy’s boy.
Analogously, the mummy’s boy scenario happens to Malawi, especially when her independence is considered. As a matter of clarification, Nyasaland declared independence as Malawi on 6th July, 1964 effectively making this day a national holiday.
The yearly national celebrations made on this important day are nothing but merely a symbolic remembrance of the events of that defining moment. Suffice it to say that it is the usual—president attending and giving a speech, Malawians on holiday, and blah blah blah. However, there seems to be very little, if any at all, to show for nearly 50 years down the line. Malawi, with almost 50 years of self-rule, has developed no means of self-survival and depends on begging its colonial masters and imperial mothers. In short, Malawi is a mummy’s boy at 50.
Wikipedia states that one can be a mummy’s boy may be so due to problems to do with their personality. And one wonders; does Malawi have personality disorder preventing it from economic independence? Painful as it may be to admit it, the wiser readership, as does this author, would answer the question in affirmative.
It is interesting to comment that Malawi’s history has been one of constant poverty amidst peace and rich resources. But yet every opportunity to turnaround our poverty situation that ever existed has only succeeded in making Malawians ever poorer than before. If we cannot accept the creation of problems at times of promises to be a hallmark of personality disorder, how else would one explain it? Or should we blame fate? Or, still, should we blame our an inexcusable poverty situation simply jinxes of some unknown degree or order?
It is nauseating, at least to this author, to note that every year the celebrations in remembrance of this day are done with seemingly no policy options on the table. The arrival of this day should mark the need to revisit policies, reread development agenda, and discuss, as far inclusively as possible, on fundamental issues in the spirit of nationalism. It would be appreciated if it dawned upon our leaders that the light moments marking the day—reading speeches, dancing, enjoying the day home as a holiday—should be punctuated more important activities like policy discussions and mentoring programmes to rebuild the Malawi nation.
For how long will Malawi be a mummy’s boy? For how long will she stomach the West’s aid-whip? How many more days are left for Malawi citizenry to realize that development is not about money, it is about mind; it is about using the mind to make the money, and not the other way round. That Malawi is rich in resources—human and natural—is well documented. Therefore, what Malawi needs now is a re-awakening of the mind knowing very well that we are as equally capable of capturing the wind to generate electricity, modernizing the dead land to yield bumper harvests, and taming the resources to create new wealth and technology.
It is about the Malawi leaders stopped thinking like we are still in the dark ages. Better the leaders, at least in this year’s independence celebrations, be proactive enough and redefine the way independence should be celebrated. Otherwise, the way celebrations are organized leave a lot to be desired in the quest for a meaningful socio-economic and politico-cultural independence.
Economic independence has been seen to come more easily to those who repel free lunch and less to those accept it and sit back waiting for another the following mealtime. Many countries have walked this very same muddy road and they have managed to go past the humps to the tarmac. Unless we establish entrepreneurship, reward performance, forge new thinking, and develop adventure for innovation, Malawi will be 50 and aging and still be a mummy’s boy.