Uncle Harvest: Roots of Poverty in Malawi

Unless we wean ourselves from this dependence, we cannot undergo any significant development that is worth writing home about.

The just released report on the state of poverty in Malawi must not come as a surprise to anyone.

Poverty in Malawi is, in the first place, based on the lack of self-worth among Malawians.

We have reduced ourselves into beggars. The beggar mentality is an inferior mentality.

Beggars, it is said have no room in the King's Palace.

Take a look at both our National Development Plans, including the MW2063, and our Annual Budgets. Their successful implementation is premised on the support we would get from the so called" Development Partners."

Unless we wean ourselves from this dependence, we cannot undergo any significant development that is worth writing home about.

I see three major strategies that Malawi must adopted in order to overcome the enslavement of poverty and underdevelopment:

1. We have to adopt an innovative and creative culture that is buttressed on science and technology. Innovation and creativity implies an ability to take risks, accompanied by a redefinition of failure. We must develop in our young people the ability for critical thinking and analysis. Develop a mentality that challenges status quo and seeks for solutions to the challenges we face.

We have to abandon our tendencies to adapt to pain, our being stack to the hoe, for example, and come up with easier and faster ways of tilling the soil.

2. We need to come to a realization that the 17 000 000 Malawians are a huge market for ourselves. We need to create an Economic Network that attracts and grows kwachas to itself. This will call for a true commitment to the" Best buy Malawian" concept that is very much dependent on our ability to come up with indigenous technologies that will facilitate our value addition to our raw materials. If every kwacha would be allowed to circuit within this economic network and be allowed to leave only when it will attract more kwacha out itself, our economy would proper.

We must in this regard also kill this notion of businesses opening at 9 am and closing at 5pm. Businesses operating only up to 12 noon on Saturdays. This is a prescription for poverty. Our economy must begin to operate 24/7/365.The economy that is shut one and half days a week losses 78 business days a year.

3. It is also said, where somebody has created a wheel, don't waste time trying to create yours. The Chinese know this well. They don't copyright, they copy right. See how the Chinese economy has developed in the past 50 years.

Somebody said, I think it is Pastor Solomon Adebayo, "Show me a city whose citizens go to bed at eight, I will show you a city that is poor." A lot of our electricity goes to waste for over 10 hours daily. The only facilities in Malawi cities that are open beyond 8 pm are bars, bottle stores and clubs. At night we are either sleeping or celebrating our poverty, dancing to " chekela maluzi." Let us use electricity to extend our time of productivity.

Malawians must come to terms with one thing; we are lazy. We have soothed our egos for too long that we are hardworking. We ain't. The spirit of excellence and hard work long died. We fail to even clean our surroundings. We can do better.

It is possible for us to overcome poverty. What we also need is to become more integrated than we currently are. The social fabric that held families, villages and communities together is long gone. We are a nation at war with itself. We stopped a long time ago to celebrate our being a nation whose beauty is its diversity. It is nice that we have so many ethnic groups in this country but it would be beautiful if we so that our being diverse makes us more beautiful.Can we for once be one nation? One nation United in its fight against poverty. One nation in pursuit of development and prosperity.

We are failing to invest in development projects in the most suitable areas of the country because we think it will benefit " them" not "us". We fail to recruit the most suitable person because they belong to a different ethnicity, hold different political opinion or believe differently.

Let us rediscover our nationhood and embrace one national flag and identity.