Lumumba challenges Malawians to have sense of urgency

Institute of Chartered Accountants in Malawi (Icam) lakeshore conference wound up on a high note on Saturday in Mangochi, with Kenya’s renowned motivational speaker Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba challenging leaders in Africa, including Malawi, to have a sense of urgency in implementing development plans.

In his speech titled Harmonising Africa’s Resources for Africa’s Development: From Third World to First, Lumumba, who once served as Kenya’s Anti-Corruption Commission director, cited among others, Africa’s founding fathers such as Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere for their unified agenda and a sense of urgency to develop their countries and the African continent.

Prof Lumumba at the conference

To fast-track economic development, he observed that time has come for African countries to harness technology, saying: “We can’t continue to practise agriculture of our forefathers by using a hoe and a plough. Agriculture is one of the areas we must focus on.”

In his thought-provoking speech listened to by over 1 000 delegates, including chief executive officers, Lumumba zeroed in on Malawi and praised former president Bingu wa Mutharika for ensuring that there was maize surplus within a short period.

“The soil didn’t change, it is the same people and the same land. If it can be done, it must be done. If it is not done, then we are done,” he said.

Lumumba challenged that Malawi can be the fulcrum of 16-country trade bloc South Africa Development Community (Sadc) by marketing what he called the “cleanest lake on the earth”—Lake Malawi.

He bluntly said: “Have you marketed the chambo fish? McDonalds [an American fast food company] markets mere potatoes and it is famous for that. Why is chambo not famous?”

Lumumba said development hinges on leadership at all levels;  hence, no need to look for leadership elsewhere, observing that there is need to focus on things that work.

Turning to chartered accountants, he said: “If you speak with one voice, President [Peter] Mutharika will one day summon you to guide him as intelligent men.”

Speaking on the broader African continent, he said Africa is a home to an abundance of natural resources that include diamonds, gold, oil, natural gas, uranium, platinum and copper.

It also has human resource which includes skills, intelligence and knowledge and has to use technology to transform a natural resource into usable and valuable things.

He said Africa can and will be great, stressing that he has seen beauty in the gloom.

In an interview after Lumumba’s speech, FDH Financial Holdings chief executive officer Thom Mpinganjira, who described the speech as powerful, said he has listened to him a number of times, but had to be there to see him speak in person.

“It is true that leadership is what is critical in the development of any country. We think a leader is someone else. All of us are leaders.

“If we all come together, Malawi will rise. It does not require herd mentality. You don’t have to follow somebody,” he said, adding that the underlying point is to change the way of doing things.

Mpinganjira mentioned Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, who he said despite being criticised for stifling democracy, has turned his country into one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

The keynote speaker at the conference was  High Court judge at Zomba District Registry Zione Ntaba, who spoke on Thursday evening.

Original reporting by Nation Malawi