Recalling my past during my primary school days, I dreaded the moment when I stepped onto the school campus after my friends had already gone to the opening assembly.
With class monitors wielding more powers than necessary, my lack of punctuality was their opportunity to mete out any kind of punishment on me, taking into consideration that I wasn’t one of the obedient chaps at school.
The school premises would be dead quiet as all pupils were at one corner of the institution. Knowing that the class monitors were always located on the boundaries waiting to pounce on anyone who came late, I temporarily employed a way of beating the system.
Wait for my colleagues to leave the assembly then as soon as the monitors are leaving their posts, I would dash towards my classroom’s door to join the rest. It wasn’t any close to being a wise idea. I got caught on several occasions and punished.
But there is a day I will never forget in my life. Having arrived late (again) I noticed that the class monitors were nowhere to be seen. I smiled and quickened my step towards the only classroom block that separated me from the assembly point.
I peeped from where I stood and was rest assured that if I turned into a “professional athlete” for a moment then I would manage to join my class queue right at the back. By the way, from the direction I was to come from, no teacher (no matter how good they were in spotting offenders) was going to see me.
One, two, three..I counted then leaped towards my destination then alas, a coarse voice from the middle of the gathering erupted into a song “OH GOD BLESS OUR”…then the whole group followed…”LAND OF MALAWI…….”
The rule was clear, upon hearing the national anthem you are supposed to stop where you are, throw everything down, stand straight with hands on the sides. And on top of that entire requirement package, you were supposed to join in song.
My bad, I had been caught between the rock and a hard place. I quickly threw my books down and stood there motionless. My voice didn’t come out audibly because I was shaking terribly. I don’t remember how many lines of the anthem I had sung along when it finished.
My initial sprint had attracted some attention and my isolation from the rest of the group during the anthem caught the eye of some ruthless teacher whose name I can’t remember. Another bad day it was and I was going to get punished (again).
The etiquette surrounding national anthem did not change a lot during Bakili Muluzi’s rule only that we had the freedom not to stop, not to sing and not to care.
However, one thing I miss about the anthem is putting my hands on the sides. Why on earth did Bingu wa Mutharika change our posture when singing our sacred song. Did he justify why we have to put our hand across the chest?
I miss those Kamuzu days..”OH GOD BLESS OUR LAND OF MALAWI”,while my hands are relaxing on the sides. May be we can change that as well if we really had respect for Kamuzu Banda.
Honestly, Bingu was changing some things just to nurse his ego