Healing the Nation – An Outsider Inside View

By Charles Leyman Kachitsa

I have written elsewhere in my weekend series of Inspirational Quotes that a nation that does not heal itself, should forget tangible development and harmonious living of its citizens. I did say that national day celebrations or remembrance days in most nations are an apparent way of healing past wounds and making sure if some section of the people were injured one way or the other, whether emotionally or physically they feel some remorse and mercy of their perpetrators, detractors or persecutors. Another way of such healing was given for example, as the method adopted by Nelson Mandela on assuming power in South Africa through the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee (TRC), a national healing tool.

RSA -Truth and Reconcilliation

What I want to address in my write up would not perhaps qualify to many as a national issue on the magnitude of the above examples, though it was and to some they may look at it in their own way which is fine in this day of mind independence and freedom of expression. This will touch on the happenings in my national country of origin Malawi.

For a long time there were these troubling thoughts of what had happened in the political arena after the 2004 elections which were won by late Professor Bingu Wa Muthalika. It is undeniable fact that he mostly won through the endorsement and promotion by then State President Bakili Muluzi who also had handpicked him for the candidature out of the blues considering the party, UDF had other capable aspirants.

Mighty Late Bingu and Dr Bakili Muluzi

As history would have it the two fell out immediately after Bingu was sworn in. Only speculations which I don’t want to belabour outlining here gave so many theories as the major factor for the two becoming nemeses. Though some pointed to the unceremonious dismissal of Bingu Wa Muthalika at COMESA when Bakili Muluzi the then President of Malawi, was the chairman of the regional block. People pursuing such angle went on to say Bingu’s picking as a presidential candidate may have been a way of consoling him for the mishap he faced at COMESA. We may not all know exactly the behind scenes.

I should mention that I liked Bingu from the outset because he was outright brutal honest with any issue, a fact that could have been attributed to his experiences before this appointment a trait perhaps the current president also has. Many people liked him and that was evident with the results of the 2009 elections. However, there was still that dent of how he left the UDF to form the DPP leaving behind his mentor and some hardcore followers in desolation. Quite understandably, emotions were bruised, some people had felt used and left behind, others felt empty and could not make out what had actually happened. Also quite obvious spirit were dampened, minds felt deep hurt, those with past wounds felt their wounds opened afresh. Some felt totally betrayed by the happenings.

In no small way the dent of a broken relationship that could have been perhaps based on trust might have been something surely that the mighty Bingu Wa Muthalika could have felt at some point required rectifying. There were moments quite evident for instance the state presidency swearing ceremony of 2009 which brought the two together at the Kamuzu Stadium and such emotions of want were displayed. For all his principles and strength of making tough decisions there was a deeper human side that was there perhaps for all to see in Ngwazi Bingu Wa Muthalika, a visionary and development conscious leader.

It is with the above background that the choice of running mate by Professor Peter Muthalika of DPP successor and brother to Bingu Wa Muthalika, in trusting UDF’s Atupele Muluzi a son to Dr Bakili Muluzi feels as steps to national healing. Most people are billing it as a return of two groups of people who in the first place should not have separated despite misunderstandings, accusations, or mistrust, I take it as a significant and historical happening that should be the trend with most things in healing of the nation. Perhaps now the wild spirits would be settled down, and people can start more to look at the positives in the nation. In traditional life of Malawi they talk of sitting down the spirits that would have felt injured, this would be in the belief that they have now been soothed.

Having said that there are so many issues likewise in the nation of Malawi that needs healing. Starting from the local tribal wars that were there before the emergency of the current nation, the Chilembwe uprising which contrary to many people’s knowledge he was betrayed by his own people and most people who lost lives as a result were killed by their own indegenious fellows working as colonial army or police officers.

Going on to independence; the cabinet crisis has not had a proper closure, the death of people from the whole village of Moto in Mangochi, the massacre in Nkhatabay, the many disappearance and death of people (some not necessarily killed by government but some people taking advantage), the war of Mwanza where Yatuta Chisiza died, the death of four cabinet ministers, the relocation of teachers to their regions and or district of origin, the brutalisation of people who were Young Piooners as they were doing a job unknowingly, the Kamuzu case after his presidency and one would extend to the losing of jobs as a result of market liberalisation in the multi-party era. All these need some form of national healing.

Some nations do their healing through opening of government records of such happening just to give people of what may have compelled those in authority to act the way they did. What information they were acting on and whether there was a bigger threat to national security.

So I congratulate the current state president for being brave to start such a process of national healing. after all is said and done the people who live in Malawi from North to South and East to West are all Malawians, nothing can take away this fact. The spirits have calmed down!

NB: The views expressed are the opinion of the author. He has not sought any explanation and or interpretation of the issues discussed above from those named above and or any of their representatives.