Written by: Admin_SheEvo
As I began to assimilate and became part of my community, through discussions and constant deliberations with the chiefs, the locals, the academics/learned/intellectuals, as well as those in the diaspora, I quickly realized that my quest for development in my community would never be a one-person game. I became aware that there is a short circuit in the flow of engagement amongst community members. People in my community generally associate themselves according to political affiliations, family ties, social status, villages, etc. Therefore, I decided to create a platform (Tukombo Today) that will act as a bridge to bring them together to have a consensus in building our community. The idea was “well” received, but the challenge was skepticism, distrust, and political and family differences. The platform had (still has) a snail’s pace on the flow of information. Yes, meaningful ideas were being shared. Also, concerns were being expressed, albeit treading on eggs. But however great the ideas were, they lacked a unified force to actualize them. In my view -this was a platform (a boardroom, as I call it) to bridge the engagement block. But still, people could not engage freely and unbiasedly with one common goal due to trivial matters that have crippled development. I have realized it is not unique to my village but to Africa as a whole.
Another huge challenge was that however great the developmental ideas were, the struggle was that most members were based in different cities, towns, and countries. Therefore, they needed more feasibility on the ground, physically ensuring that some of the ideas were shared with the relevant stakeholders in the village. The challenge was decoding these ideas into a layman’s language that the general public and chiefs would understand. I realized that our priorities were different, and our vision in terms of development ran on parallel lines; therefore, merging the two was a dream that “might” never be a reality, the demise of my community and Africa. My mind and heart would be overwhelmed as I saw my vision for a better Tukombo becoming a burden instead of a blessing. A unified force will never work under such conditions. The ideas got suffocated before they could see any daylight. My community has so many opportunities for greatness, considering its location close to the lake, excellent weather, fantastic scenery, unique natural vegetation, a heritage site that has ancient carvings, naturally warm water springs, and is home to some of the most prominent political leaders Like Aleke Banda and his wife, Mbumba Margaret Banda. Recently gold was discovered in my village. All of these opportunities lie dormant because people fail to come together to “agree to disagree’’ to ensure that they maximize the available resources to build a better community. The other challenge is ”the bwana mentality,” the scramble for positions in any community committee, especially by the locals to gain respect and access to resources. Celebrity status is especially used by those with resources to manipulate the locals to partner with them, manipulating them to their advantage. If a person comes with noble ideas and does not belong to either of the groups, there would be little or no local support. The person becomes a threat to those scrambling for positions or a threat to the community celebrities. Any noble efforts face many red tapes, and secret agents or monitoring personnel are deployed to spy and report to their ‘’master’’. Therefore, instead of making friends, a Pandora’s box of enemies is opened. It makes it difficult to trust anyone with any information on development for fear of ideas being stolen by people with the speed of light to ensure they remain celebrated (bwana mentality) – the battle for village/community celebrity. I have been debating whether to continue with the mission of working together through shared ideas or go solo since I have individually made minor impacts through financial help from just a few friends, but an impact nonetheless.
I have realized that development is not only in terms of infrastructure but a changed life and mindset. Therefore, I plan to implement progressive developmental change through whatever efforts I can manage and any assistance I receive. I have started a youth leadership program, a girl empowerment program, as the youths are the soul and future of the community. Hopefully, I will live to see my dreams of a better Tukombo.
Being an activist for community development comes with many burdens; however, it can never quench the desire to see a better life for my community and country because it is the place I call home.
Cathrine Banda, from Mzuzu Malawi. She is a Community Activist, Motivational Speaker, Writer, Poet, Former Radio Presenter The 1873 FM, Johannesburg South Africa