The first decade of the 21st Century brought with it some odd personalities on the local scene and leading the pack is one man who we all settled to call Jesus Matiki.
Perched somewhere at the foot of Michiru Mountain in Chilomoni, Jesus Matiki made a revelation that he was the promised Messiah and he had come to save or judge mankind.(save or judge Malawians in this case)
Being a so called Chrisitan nation, Malawians were amazed, appalled, confused and enraged by such a revelation deeming it blasphemous in any regard.
What made Matiki a class act was his ability to attract the agenda of the media for so many weeks. Nation and Daily Tiimes newspapers dedicated enough space for Jesus such that reporters and photographers followed him almost everywhere he went. Several radio stations followed suit.
One day Jesus was hungry and he stopped at a chips stall at Nthukwa in Chilomoni. Multitudes followed and mobbed him telling him not to eat chips but to simply turn some stones into bread or into chips. One man even offered his pair of slippers so that he would turn them into fish.
The mobbing got worse one day when people stoned him after noticing that he was buying some dough nuts from a young girl. The people accused Jesus Matiki of asking for a bargain, an ettiquette not in tandem with the "saviour"
All this excitement continued up until editors countrywide shared notes and decided to withdraw their men and women from tracking Jesus Matiki.
"Why should we waste resources on someone who is mad and does not even know what he is doing. As editors we have been greedy for scoops at the expense of our little resources," said one ditor.
From that day onwards, Matiki was no news at all.
Let me confess that he became news again months later after it was learnt that he had fathered a child with one of his disciples.
Matiki, despite being a village smart man, always wore a faint smile and it made him look photogenic enough for our local publications.
He had no problem at all, his schizophrenic mental faculties were convincing him that he was Jesus, the saviour. Sadly, instead of getting him medical help Malawians decided to give him attention up until we realized that we cannot chase him forever.
Jesus of Chilomoni is now somewhere in Chiradzulu but the country still has another man who loves attention. He is ready to speak and send commands everytime he sees a microphone, notepad and pen.
John Kapito, Consumer Association of Malawi (CAMA) Executive Director. (It seems he has been heading that organisation for as long as it has existed)
With all due respect to Mr. John Kapito, I think the way he pushes his agenda to other constituencies is faulty.
After telling Bingu to resign, Kapito has so far extended the gesture to Joyce Banda, Khumbo Kachali and several public officers. To him, every mistake one makes in public office must be followed by a resignation.
And recently he has made another call telling Malawians to stage street protests in January so as to force President Joyce Banda out.
To me, this is just another episode of attention grabbing, wrongly so.
However, it seems that is what Kapito loves most.
One time he tried to grab the attention of Malawians by telling them to stay away from buying bread in Malawian shops because the price had gone up. A day before the planned protest, Malawians were seen buying enough sugar and margarine and other kinds of spread.
In defiance, right on the protest day, they went and purchased many loaves of bread. Unsubstantiated reports indicate that one man shouted at Kapito saying "Kapito if you have no money to buy bread, just go and buy cassava from Ndirande market"
Another time he called upon all the 900,000 Blantyre residents to march to ESCOM House to protest the rise of electricity tarrifs. ESCOM mobilized enough security to avoid a fracas besides the normal petition presentation.
His move paid dividends as people really went to present the petition. The problem was that only five; yes 5, people had spared their time for such action.
Honestly, the bread and electricity issues were very true and pertinent. We are sorry because we let him down as fellow Malawians.
However, only when Kapito learns to work with his friends will he achieve desired results. You can't just speak and expect the whole nation to tick towards your desires, I don't think so. Even Sychelles with a population of 96,000 cannot pull such a stunt; what more with a country of 14 million citizens?
Just because Malawians took to the streets on July 20, 2011 does not mean that they must march everytime something looks out of order.
We marched on July 20 because Bingu's government had stopped listening to our concerns. We marched because on a day we wanted our government to listen to our cries, they were busy having a banquet at State House disguising it as a Public Debate.
We went on the streets because Bingu had made it clear that were were not humans anymore but ankhwenzule who were only protesting to make unnecessary noise. We had to face teargas and live bullets because we wanted to smoke out the old man before he smoked us out first as per his wish.
We marched because we wanted to kill the fires; fires that were razing markets, offices and houses. (Ask Reverend Sembereka and Rafiq Hajat)
After July 20 we were ready to march again anytime because the 20 point petition had not been addressed. We were still itching for more to prevent more butchering like that of young man Robert Chasowa.
Finally Mr Kapito should be reminded that we marched on July 20 because Bingu had become an enemy of all except his DPP party. He had sidelined everybody. For the first time we saw a Head of State responding to Catholic Pastoral Letter and he ill-spoke against all the churches that pointed his wrongs. The battle lines were very clear; Bingu against us.
In conclusion, it is not necessary to go on the streets again in January.
The Joyce Banda government has not stopped listening to the populace. It is a government that is continually enganging the public to find a better way out of this difficult time. There is no executive arrogance like the one that killed the DPP-Malawians trust.
Our current leaders can apologize when they say something wrong and they have showed commitment by cutting the Presidency's salaries by 30 percent (I hear John Kapito was still unimpressed as well because he wanted them to announce the cuts through parliament)
This government has created a forum for people to present their ideas as we head towards economic recovery.
Joyce Banda has not called us strange names. She has not intended to smoke us out. Time for the streets is not ripe Mr. Kapito. The devil has not yet sat on our backs.
We cannot take heed of Mr. Kapito's call. The last time we filled Victoria Avenue there was a collective effort from credible institutions such as Public Affairs Committee, Malawi Law Society, Malawi Council of Churches, Roman Catholic Church, Livingstonia Synod, ECAMA, the academia and other civil society members. All these instituions have shown hope in the path we have taken as a country and they are optimistic that things will get better shortly.
It's good to keep talking to our government and keep them accountable and it is equally good when a government listens to the citizenry. That is exactly what we have in place right now. Let us give dialogue and optimism a chance.
However in regards to Kapito's planned street march, I might be there in January so that you should not only have four people going with you.
Piece of advice; try to trace Jesus Matiki in Chiradzulu and invite him to the protest, he might love the spotlight as well.