Without beating about the bush, activist Billy Mayaya is the man. He is the only Malawian so far that I have seen that is able to stand up to government whenever there are injustices. He does not mope about economic or social ills prevalent in the country on Facebook, Twitter or within the confines of his home, he publicly expresses his displeasure at a government that pays a blind eye to sufferings of Malawians.
Mayaya does not wait until the streets are filled with people to validate his cause, he simply does what he feels needs to be done at a particular time.
While the rest of us the timid sit and watch even though we know things are going wrong, Mayaya is not afraid to pick up his placard and march in the streets even if it means doing it alone with a horde of people laughing at him. He does not relent—now that is courage that is not in many of us.
We are good at complaining behind we rarely pluck enough courage to face them. It’s either we cultivate this habit or politicians will always take advantage of our timidity.
Now, many have chastised Mayaya for taking to the streets every now and again. Some say it is “too much” and he is now diluting the spirit behind demonstrations. I thought the spirit behind demonstrations is to express one’s feelings about something they feel needs correcting?
And there are some Facebook-based activists who say there is not yet significant crisis in the country to warrant demos. In the words, what these people are saying is that we should wait until things get out of hand, when there is not even a single tablet of a painkiller in the hospital and we stay for a year without power as our leaders are tired of aimlessly spending that is when we should demonstrate. What happened to nipping it in the bud? I believe that is exactly what Mayaya is doing. Thumbs up to him.
Others are of the view that demonstrations do not bring any change. Who said demonstrations are an end? Demonstrations are merely a means to an end and not an end itself. It does not mean change has to come as soon as the petition is delivered.
Others are bashing Mayaya for being “a lone ranger” during the demos. What these people are not getting right is that demonstrations are not a game of numbers, but a matter of expressing one’s views and sending that important message home. Trust me, government heard Mayaya loud and clear, and that is why government organized counter demos—they deny it but you and I know that they did.
I believe there is nothing like “too much” when it comes to expressing one’s views on matters dear to their heart. You just have to let them do it, whether you are in agreement or not.
After all, freedom of expression is their constitutionally guaranteed right.
To Mayaya and consumer rights activist John Kapito, please do not falter in your activism and whipping our leaders into line. If demonstrations are a means to that end, then keep on doing it. (Article was first published in Nation Online www.mwnation.com).