Sometime early last year when the country was politically getting darker by day, Chancellor College (Not Chanceller College as MBC TV puts it) stole some considerable attention. Probably the country most prominent politician that time, Professor Peter Mutharika, invaded the campus to hold a public lecture in the imposing Great Hall.
He was accompanied by a host of government officials from his ministry and others (that time he was Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister).
The function, broadcast live on MBC TV had no pomp but was filled with hype (This is Chanco we are talking about remember?) The students kept shouting, jeering and cheering during the entire length of the event though their most rapturous moment came when they demanded that Nicholas Dausi speak to them.
Predictably, Dausi started his sentence with “Thomas Aquinas and Booker Taliaferro Washington of Tuskegee University. More cheers greeted the overly repeated speech introduction.
Thereafter, the congregation was asked to ask the Law Professor any question in relation to his career and what he had said in his presentation.
A young lady who was shaking uncontrollably stood and asked Peter to tell the gathering more about his life.
The law Professor never hesitated. Standing up slowly, he stepped forward and positioned himself right in front of a stack of old-looking microphones.
Hitting the microphones twice just to make sure that they were working, (he likes that by the way, am planning to propose on being his Public Relations consultant in 2014) he cleared his throat and started smiling.
“My name is Peter Mutharika,” The girl who has asked the question was still standing, still shaking (I recall). Peter said some a million other things in a minute and screeched to a halt.
Tacking his specs up, he looked at the girl and roared with a grin “If you want to know more about me, just Google Peter Mutharika” The Great Hall shook with laughter, cheering, whistling and all the conduct that comes along with The Chanco Philosophy.
Amid the cheers, jeers and all that, the girl was stepping backwards, using her hands to search for her chair behind.
Peter had made it clear; he is just not any other dude. His profile can be found on Wikipedia through Google. Not a mean achievement at all. How many of us would have our profiles floated on Wikipedia?
After that lecture, I started following Peter and his campaign with keen interest. As he was being branded as Presidential material, he wielded so much power such that his presence at any place was coupled with a level of decorum beyond what a cabinet minister should get.
One time he was delegated to make foreign trips on behalf of his brother. Another time he was spotted in Mzuzu using a chopper (helicopter) that belonged to his brother. Never to mention about the cars that make part of the presidential motorcade, Peter used some of them at will.
I have never liked the idea of brothers succeeding each other, and Peter justified my fears. I saw a weakness with his strategy of getting to the top of things. You never bulldoze your way to the top if you want to make meaningful impact.
Peter Mutharika as the accomplished member of the bar and Member of Parliament is already a force to reckon with in any spectrum of political activity.
If he had allowed his name to be branded without hurting others, people would have been flocking to him by now.
If his candidacy had not victimized others it would have no problems in it. Look now, just because he remained quiet when DPP die-hards were victimizing Joyce Banda on his behalf, the tide has automatically shifted.
I laughed in disbelief last week when the DPP walked out in the middle of parliamentary proceedings. It was quite a humbling sight to see Peter standing up in frustration, whisking his briefcase away from the floor before joining his fellow members in the protest walk-out. Life has finished its circle; only God knows our future.
Peter Mutharika? Walking out in frustration? It wasn’t the same Peter who was presented to Malawians as their next president. Not the same Peter who had all cabinet ministers giving him exaggerated respect just because of his brother. Not the Peter who at one time was delegated by Bingu to swear in Commissioners of some Presidential Initiatives.
As my mind recalls the Chanco event, I still sympathize with Peter. Had his candidacy gone through the proper procedures, he wouldn’t be struggling to re-brand his name now in a bid to appeal to the electorate.
I fear that his candidacy is going to be challenged by other people within the DPP who kept quiet during the Bingu regime for fear of political isolation.
Peter, I can google your name and be impressed with your deep and rich resume but give me one thing; Strong leadership qualities.
Steer the party in these troubled times and show Malawians that come 2014 you will still be relevant to the country’s politics.
In case you are interested to know the person writing this piece, don’t google, I am not there. Just meet me in person; I am a common Malawian looking forward to our politicians becoming better people.