Wednesday, April 8, 2015


Independence for the former Nyasaland brought the great and honourable Hastings Banda to power, where he sat for the next thirty years, and I confess I can see the attractions of the lifestyle, being treated like a king, having any woman you want at your disposal, and men with brown tongues sycophanting to your every vision and ideal, inhabiting a world in which you have no enemies because they are all dead or in jail, where all the money that people make is being kept for safety in a bank account that you are philanthropically managing on their behalf. 

Clearly there are many who aspire to this lifestyle, and some of them run multi-national corporations, and some of them run media empires, and some of them run banks. Hastings Banda ran a country, and if he ran it into the ground, well, apparently nobody told him that this mattered – but then, before the crash of 2008, when the cowboys demanded a world without sheriffs, nobody told the people who run the multi-national corporations, the media empires or the banks either. Banda finally went off to the great tax haven in the sky and his successors have tried to undo the damage, though there are several centuries of colonial damage to undo as well, and now there is also AIDS to add to the corruption, the poverty, and the limited resources of a land dependent on virtually nothing, which is to say subsistence farming, even to survive. In the 1980s, when I was working for a while with War On Want, Malawi was rated just behind Eritrea and the Sudan on the list of countries in Africa reliant on western aid; today it is still on the list, but you need to turn the page to find it: a sign of considerable progress. Another is the fact that more people now die each year from AIDS than malnutrition – which is a startling statistic in a world that has cures available for both.

Malawi is landlocked, which ought to be a major economic problem; but virtually the entire length of its eastern border is the vast Lake Malawi, and the wildlife there, and throughout the country, is magnificent, placing the country in the top ten of the list of "best countries to visit" for several years. Presumably those who look at the zebra from the yachts manage to do so without noticing the shanty towns in the foothills or the queues outside the hospitals.

Marks For: 2

Marks Against: 4

Copyright © 2015 David Prashker
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The Argaman Press

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