My lamentations on donor aid from Stories on Malawi
I have been too busy with my studies to post anything on this blog. Today I had to come out from my cacoon to ponder on the suffering we go through as a nation. On the onset I should say this is not for the well-meaning donors and neither is this posting intend to hide the poor governance issues in our country. Of course these are my lamentations on donor aid.
Here are a few thoughts that are calling on fairness from donors and a move towards independence from them. I believe a truly independent country could never rely entirely on help from others. However a nation cannot survive in isolation. The fact is there are few who can help in good faith. Imagine that little has changed since Malawi was called Nyasaland. As a nation we remain the most disease stricken and poorest in the world yet for a long time we have been ‘beneficialies’ of donor aid. Between 1979 and 1999 we earned a place among what the IMF characterises as ‘‘very prolonged users” of its facilities! I cannot stop wondering what good has these donor facilities done to us?
In our desperation during the Muluzi era we turned to the East for help. The aid which was solicited by Bakili Muluzi from the East during his term in office came with the spread of the Islamic faith in the country. We saw the mushrooming of mosques and Islamic institutions across the country. Even after Muluzi is gone we are still stuck with Radio Islam (and many other institutions) – a radio station that broadcasts ‘provocative and insulting programmes’ on its airwaves without any restraints from our toothless regulatory body, MACRA.
Just last week on on 18th April Madonna celebrated introducing her Kabbalah cult to Malawi when she and Lourdes were VIP guests at a “graduation” for 12-year-olds who have completed a Kabbalah education programme. Madonna who seemed to defy traditional family values came to Malawi on the pretex to help the orphaned population in the country. But the critical point to note is that in return for her financial support, Madonna and Michael Berg have instructed staff to teach Kabbalah to the orphans in their care. Last November, a team of Malawians were flown out to the States for an intensive three-month course in Kabbalah, so that they could teach it to orphans back in Malawi. Of course, not everyone in Malawi is fooled. The Roman Catholics raised objections to Madonna’s Kabbalah-spreading activities, and many of the “Kabbalah bibles” Madonna sent remain undistributed. But for how ong? By the way here is a brief take of Madonna, the mother of reinvention, as described in the Metro newspaper: outraged the Catholic Church, starred in bad movies, dated pop stars and politicians, married, divorced, remarried, dabbled in lesbianism, found religion and is now adopting African orphans. What a mum for David! We are yet to see what Madonna will become next.
There are several donor conditions over the years that have hit us hard as a nation. To mention a few I can recite the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank who were blamed for the tragedy that hit Malawi during the 2002 famine. The international human rights organisation Action Aid, for instance, indicated in a report in October 2002 that the IMF had instructed the Malawian government to sell the strategic grain reserve to repay a debt incurred by the statutory National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA). Consequently more than 1,000 Malawians died and 8 million of the country’s 12 million people suffered from hunger but heads did not roll at the IMF and World Bank. Just of late, Action Aid research in Malawi has shown that a major factor behind the chronic and severe shortage of teachers is that International Monetary Fund (IMF) policies have required the Malawi government to freeze or curtail teacher recruitment. In effect, IMF has forbidden the Malawi to hire sufficient teachers leaving pupil to teacher ratio in Malawi at 72:1!
In reference to Madonna I believe if you give you give openly with no strings attached. To put a proviso that her funding comes with the condition that her religion is taught is not charity in the true sense. It is using charity to further her own ideology on some of the poorest people in the world who do not have the luxury of choosing to accept her cash or not.
The abuse to the poor are diverse and take many forms. Because poor people often don’t know what’s good for them, they are assigned to the tutelage of richer people. It is difficult for the poor to bite the hand that feeds them. They are venerable to abuse therefore need protection. In fact some of the rich amass their riches from the poor! They pretend to help. These are the rich who are shrewd, manipulative, and brilliant and there is always something they want to control and get from the poor at the end. By the way do you know that IMF receives much of its income from loan repayments from poorer nations? As a result, that leaves nation like Malawi stuck in a vicious circle of misery.
To the rich: how can you live in this world happily while other people are suffering especially with the fact that you can help? Who is there to protect the poor? Who is there to speak in earnest for us? Is there anyone out there who values the African life and wants to help in sincerity?