Vanguard (Lagos)

Africa: Joyce Banda's Bad Example for Africa

editorial

President Joyce Banda, 62, emerged as Africa's second female president on April 7th 2012 after her predecessor, Malawian President Bingu Wa Mutharika, died of heart attack. She promised to shake things up and improve relations with aid donor countries.

One of the steps she took recently was the decision not to extend invitation to President Omar Al Bahsir of Sudan, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for gross human rights abuses. But the more controversial of her agenda to restore the flow of foreign aid to one of the world's poorest countries is her determination to approach the parliament to quash a legislation outlawing gay marriage in Malawi.

Malawi, a country of about 15 million people, 60 per cent of whom are living below the poverty level, is one of the embarrassments of the African continent where dependence on foreign aid has for long been accepted as part of the nation's fate.

A country that earned its independence in 1964 has, through its age-old dependence on foreign aid, shown its inability to defend its independence, especially on the economic front.

The decision of President Banda to reverse the ban of same-sex marriage to please Western aid donors is a total betrayal of a country with a proud pre-colonial past which saw the Maravi ("rays of light") Empire steeped in advanced iron work.

Thus, the president has thrown the dignity of the Malawian people through the window because of filthy foreign aid. She is willing to allow unnatural and abominable practices that have helped to compromise the social and moral substance of Western societies to be foisted on her country.

The late Mutharika was guilty of so many sins, including the misuse of the foreign aid, but at least he firmly upheld the dignity of his country and let Malawians "go hungry" rather than being subjected to the indignity of imposed Western values.

We call on Malawian people as well as other Africans to rise up against the betrayal of Malawian independence. Banda should borrow a leaf from Nigeria, whose president and parliament boldly rejected same-sex marriage and the foreign aid the West used as an instrument of blackmail.

Surely, Malawians can follow the example of Lee Kwan Yew's Singapore and pull themselves out of the poverty trap. Unlike Singapore, Malawi is blest with some natural resources including land. Let the Asian countries example of rapidly exiting the indignity of foreign aid through internal re-engineering be the guidepost for struggling African countries.

Homosexuality is a taboo all over Africa. Let Africans, like the Arab/Muslim world, reject any foreign influence that can undermine our social fabric and take away our cultural identity.

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