Every time I read Professor Danwood scathing writings about President Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera I can’t help think of another patriotic son of the soil, Edge Kanyongolo. Kanyongolo has recently retired from public service having attained the mandatory retirement age.
In my life I have heard about people retiring but I have never seen any retirement being celebrated the way Malawians have celebrated Kanyongolo.
When news of his retirement broke out a few months ago, tributes poured out from his former students, current students and Malawians from all walks of life. Way before he was seen in a video clip singing and dancing to “Ndinafa Bulu” by his favourite local artist Joe Gwaladi on that July evening, at a function he bid farewell to a place he called home for nearly forty years, Kanyongolo was already spoken of glowingly in a show of gratitude to his immeasurable contributions to the nation.
Those who know Kanyongolo can attest that he is not just an accomplished legal scholar but a brilliant mind also. As an excellent legal mind, he has so much to say regarding state matters but he chooses to advise always instead of being critical. Not that governments have always been right but he has offered himself to the civic duty, to be part of the solution instead of being in the stands criticizing government.
Professor Danwood Chirwa is another legal scholar of repute as the title suggest, but he is a complete opposite to Kanyongolo. I may be quick to judge but as someone working in the comfort of the air-conditioned room of some foreign University I am not sure how much he is contributing to this country. It’s not wrong to work outside this country, as it is a personal choice. However, it is not an academic argument to say that much of Chirwa’s contribution are to South Africa than Malawi, because he only invests negativity in his homeland.
As always, on Saturday, Danwoood Chirwa took to his Facebook page taking a swipe at President Lazarus Chakwera’s for wearing the military outfit at the graduation of Senior Command and Staff of the Malawi Dense Force in Salima. While many Malawians posted President Chakwera’s pictures in a perfectly fit military outfit, Danwood Chirwa found it problematic and sarcastically tore into President Chakwera in a scathing manner. He wrote: “Does this man have any capacity for shame? His love of symbols of power knows no bounds. Borrowed robs, empty words, pretense, lies define his presidency. The only civilian president in Southern Africa who pretend to be a soldier when he knows that he is not and will never be. Can he for once do something meaningful? Malawians are tired of showbiz.’’
I find this misleading because President Chakwera has been working around the clock fixing the broken system. But I understand Professor Chirwa as he does not live in this country and he would not be in a position to appreciate the remarkable transformation which have taken place in the country. Again, I find his outburst surprising. I expected an enlightened person like him to understand that President Chakwera cannot transform this country singlehandedly. The president needs people like him with intellectual capacity to be change agents. No president can meet every expectation.
The Unites States of America is one of the richest countries in the world but when elected, President Barack Obama once asked people during his tenure to be patient. In his victory speech delivered at Chicago Grand Park on 9th November, 2008 Obama said: “There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as president, and we know government can’t solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree.” Bearing this in mind, he asked all Americans to work together in building their country: ‘‘So, let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other.”
In his speech at the graduation of Senior Commanding Officers, Chakwera also asked the officers to be part of the process of building and developing Malawi instead of leaving the responsibility in the hands of the few. Chakwera said: “Our greatest ailment, is that we are a nation of citizens who lack self-discipline, a nation of citizens who demand so much of everyone else and demand so little of ourselves.”
Danwood Chirwa’s argument is so shallow. What he is saying is that any sitting Head of State who has never been to University should not be allowed to wear a graduation gown when presiding over graduations. Of course, one would be quick to say that we cannot draw parallels to the two scenarios as in the case of Malawi, a Head of State does that in his capacity as Chancellor of public universities. However, outside public universities, a Head of State is also invited to preside over graduations of private universities.
For instance, very recently, President Chakwera presided over the graduation of students at National Resources College where he wore the graduation outfit. In the same vein, there is no difference with him wearing a military outfit as it is only a symbol of honour as the Commander in-Chief of the Defense Force. The State President may not be a trained soldier but the fact that he makes appointment such as appointing the Army Commander and issues other directives, besides making crucial decisions like sending troops to peace keeping missions, makes him part of the Defense Force at that material time as the sitting head of state.
Looking at the attitude of the two people, Kanyongolo on one end and Danwood Chirwa on the other, this country needs more people of Kanyongolo-type who talk less and do more than the Danwood’s who talk more but contribute less to the development of the country.