President Lazarus Chakwera recently called for seven days of prayers to ask God for rains. Prayer is good and as a country that touts itself as God-fearing, maybe, for the believers, praying when things go wrong is one way of finding assurance that the bad situation will turn into a good situation—and in this case, maybe the President hoped that after the seven days of prayers, heavens will open up and it will rain.
It is no secret that at that time, every Malawian was worried that the rains has delayed and there was anxiety that if it persisted, Malawi would face hunger.
However, prayers without action are useless and might as well not be held at all. It is the actions of the leaders in this case that will change the situation we are in.
While we do need prayers, it is wrong to leave everything to God while we resign to fate. Asking for prayers when what the country badly needs at the moment are solutions to what would be a looming hunger is a lazy way of dealing with problems—leave everything to God to sort out while you fold your hands and wait!
I, for one, expected that by now, the Ministry of Agriculture and all other stakeholders, would be disseminating messages on what crops should be grown in which areas of the country. By now, the Ministry of Agriculture should have been recommending to Malawians some drought resistant crops that they can grow as a way of averting hunger.
For sure, the Ministry has both the technical and administrative capacity to do this. It is unfortunate that they, too, are waiting on God or they have simply resigned to fate. I am not an expert in this area but, I know crops such as cassava do not require much water. Cassava can be a substitute for maize, a crop that requires more water. With cassava, those who love nsima can still process cassava into flour which can be used for nsima and pastries.
It takes leadership to change people’s mindset by putting in deliberate policies to promote crops such as cassava that are drought resistant. The rainfall pattern has been erratic for years and one would expect that by now, as a country, we would have moved to other food crops and not just relying on maize. But if the leaders think running away from their responsibility and placing every burden in God’s hands will solve the problem, this country will continue to be food insecure. This country needs leaders that think outside political interests. Maize has been politicised for years despite evidence that it is not the only food crop that can be grown.
It is good to pray, but let’s not substitute actions with prayers. What this country needs right now is a government that is more action-oriented than prayer-oriented. My thought is that instead of just calling for prayers, the President should also be encouraging Malawians, especially those close to water resources such as rivers, to practice irrigation farming and not just wait for the rains. It is a combination of prayer and action that will change the status quo