SPIDER’s WEB with CHEELA CHILALA
â€œTipempha boma itiyanganepo.â€Â This is a phrase you probably have heard before, and â€“ for those who may not know â€“ simply means, â€œWe are appealing to the Government to help us.â€Â I have often heard it in relation to news items on television.
There is nothing wrong with the phrase itself. What is wrong is the manner and situations in which it is used. It has been used to appeal to the government to intervene in situations which do not even require Government intervention; situations that, in the first place, are not created by the Government.
In one of these instances, I remember seeing a resident of Lusaka complaining about garbage in her neighbourhood â€“ which garbage was piling up and posing a health threat because people were dumping it carelessly.Â â€œTipempha boma itiyanganepo,â€ she said. What did the careless dumping of garbage in a residential area have to do with the Government? Who was dumping the garbage in the wrong place in the first place?
The residents can still solve the problem by getting together to clear the garbage and stop dumping any more garbage on the site.Â My point, therefore, is that we should not have a habit of running to, or depending on, the Government even for things we can or should do on our own, or for problems we bring on ourselves due to our own lawlessness or carelessness. How many times have we seen people rush for plots offered to them illegally and, despite being aware of the illegality, go ahead and pay anyway? Plus more: they go ahead and build a house on the site. Yet, when the law moves in to demolish their structures, or remove them because they are squatting on another personâ€™s land, they cry wolf, and then the appeal: â€œTipempha boma itiyanganepo.â€
I am not saying, of course, that the Government has no obligations towards citizens; on the contrary, I am affirming that it does, but that citizens also have obligations. You cannot, in other words, ask Government to do for you what you should do for yourself. There is need for balance. You cannot make a habit of sleeping without locking your doors at night, and then, when you are robbed, you start saying â€œboma itiyanganepoâ€.
The Government has built schools, for example, to enable you to have an education. But what have you done with the opportunity to go to school? Or, if you have gone to school, how have you used your qualifications? Going to school is supposed to facilitate self-reliance, not boma-reliance. The government does not owe you a living; earn yourself one. I remember how, when the PF Government came to power riding, in part, on the promise of â€œmore money in your pockets,â€ some people misunderstood that to mean they would â€œautomaticallyâ€ have more money in their pockets. It was as if Government would show up and shove kwacha or dollar notes into their pockets. They forgot that they still had to work as hard as ever, or even harder than ever. The Governmentâ€™s part is to create the enabling environment â€“ yours is to exploit the environment. Which is why, it is not the fellow with minerals in the ground who benefits, but the one who extracts the minerals.
There are people, though, who embrace the dependency syndrome â€“ but you cannot make progress in your life if you depend on others even for things you should do for yourself. Some people exhibit overdependence on their parents. Even when they grow up and should be scratching out a living on their own, they still want to have one hand in daddyâ€™s wallet or mummyâ€™s purse. Thus they fail to make progress in life because of the tendency to be dependent.
One way in which you can know you are making progress in life is when you are able to meet your own needs and, perhaps, begin to help others in need rather than always be the one in need of help.
SPIDER’s WEB with CHEELA CHILALA