Related Stories By Southern Times Writer Published: 20120416


It seems there is a desire by many Africans to remain poor and live in the “comfort” of poverty forever. This, writes WONDER GUCHU, is like the children of Israel who pleaded with Moses to leave them in the comfort of their slavery rather than endure the long walk home to freedom. This, the writer argues, is the case with Malawi and its late President, Bingu wa Mutharika.

 Leaders of the character of late Malawian President, Bingu wa Mutharika, often never live to see the dream they have for Africa come to reality.

A darling of the West and a recipient of aid, Mutharika’s last days were dark because he had taken up the gospel of empowering not only his people, but change the way all Africans think about themselves.

This was the same dream that Kwame Nkrumah, Amílcar Cabral, Leopold Senghor, Frantz Fanon, Milton Obote, Patrice Lumumba, Kenneth Kaunda, Samora Machel, Robert Mugabe, Julius Nyerere, Chris Hani, Julius Malema, Martin Luther King Jnr, Malcolm X and many others have all tried to advance.

Their fate is known – they were and are villains in the eyes of the West as well as those Africans who seek comfort in slavery.

This is Mutharika’s fate: scorned by his own and dumped by those who feared for their properties and ill-gotten wealth on the continent. His book, “The African Dream: From Poverty to Prosperity”, launched in Addis Ababa during an African Union Summit last year, talks about promoting positive thinking among Africans who can approach continental matters proactively. The book further urges those who suffered under colonialism to cast away the kind of thinking that keeps them enslaved. Mutharika believed that Africa’s dream of moving “from poverty to prosperity is realistic and achievable” and that “Africa can indeed achieve sustainable macroeconomic growth and development within the global system”.

In his launch speech, Mutharika argued that Africa’s rich resources and vibrant population could and should harness what is already available and develop it for the benefit of all Africans.

He also said, “Africa can no longer simply be viewed as a poor and problematic continent but must be viewed as a new source of global growth and prosperity.”

But for this to happen “Africa must unite to decrease poverty and increase prosperity”. This message is clear in Chapter 10 of the book where Mutharika maintained that economic reform in Africa is possible if the West and the North stop exploiting the continent and put aside the divide-and-rule strategies that weaken and fragment the continent. He further says that Africa is capable of meeting all its challenges and needs and that Africans must take their own destiny in their own hands. In simple terms, he meant ignoring Europe and the West. He meant taking the means of production from Western companies and apportioning them out to the original owners of the land.

In the preamble to the book, Mutharika addresses the issue of misgovernance on the continent.

He wrote, “The new paradigm for African economic thought will influence the direction of Africa’s growth and development.

“The general consensus is that for Africa to escape poverty, the African people must take control of their resources and re-order their own development priorities and strategies.”

While he was aware of the continent’s woes, Mutharika argues that some African countries have shown that reform was possible.

He cites countries like Ghana, Senegal, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, South Africa, Mauritius, Botswana, and Nigeria of embarking on economic reforms. Just like the Pan-Africanists who likely influenced him, Mutharika believed in sovereign states.

“... to allow the African dream to be realised, the respect for national sovereignty of both the rich and poor nations should form the cornerstone of new global institutions for political, economic, social and cultural development,” he wrote.

As such, Africa is not poor because its peoples are lazy but because they are marginalised and deprived of their wealth. “Africans do not derive benefits from institutions created for them by the North. Africans are classified as poor because they do not own or control the science and technology and research and development for economic transformation that benefit their people.” The ending of the book gives hope to the dream all progressive Africans’ dream. Mutharika said, “The African Dream is not about waiting for or qualifying for or complying with the guidelines for donor funds. It is about devising home-grown policies and being at the head of the pack, on the cutting edge, and being open and determined to go further than ever imagined.

“This is not a small dream and it is not apologetic. When realised, the African dream will in fact surprise even the worst sceptics. “The Africa of the new beginning has come. The Africa that is now unfolding is the one the world has not been able to see through the maze of the habitually reported bad news of disasters, hunger, and malnutrition and armed conflicts. Yes, this is another Africa, of new hopes, new visions, new aspirations and new hopes. “This is the Africa we are all waiting to happen.” True but your kind, Bingu wa Mutharika, never live to see this Africa, just like the Biblical Moses. - RIP