By Chikumbutso Mtumodzi
Of all the cultural foundation groups that are in Malawi, it is only the Mulhako wa Alhomwe, which is more of an alias, or a fake organization, which says one thing but does another.
To drive the point home, Mulhako is an organization, which was created allegedly to promote the Lhomwe culture and cultural values but does completely the opposite covertly as well as overtly.
Almost all cultural groups in the country are apolitical. If they do politics at least they don’t show it openly. On their open days, they preach love and peace and everyone is invited. The speeches and activities are always cultural and welcoming where cultural concepts are promoted. Except Mulhako wa Alhomwe.
It is clear that Mulhako wa Alhomwe and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) are inseparable. The Patron of the grouping is DPP President, Peter Mutharika who is yet to retire from politics despite being 82. The unwritten rule for Mulhako wa Alhomwe is that one has to be DPP to be recognized as a bona fide member. The grouping does not tolerate its members who belong to other political parties.
We are told every Lhomwe in this country is welcome to be a member of Mulhako wa Alhomwe.
However, some executive members of the grouping were ‘fired’ from the grouping and banished from ever attending Mulhako wa Alhomwe functions because they left DPP to establish or join other political parties . Ask Patricia Kaliati or Noel Masangwi, they will testify.
Last year, Peter Mutharika took advantage of the festival to announce that he will be candidate for DPP if the party emerged victorious in a case, which was in court that time in which it was asking for the nullification of the June 2020 fresh presidential election, which elected President Lazarus Chakwera based on some technicalities. DPP lost the case.
It was also at the same function where former President, Bakili Muluzi, urged Peter Mutharika to fix the leadership problems that are still raging in the party today. In fact, the slogans ‘Alhomwe Noophiya’ and ‘DPP Woyee’; were used interchangeably. This is something that you can never hear or witness at open functions for other cultural groupings in the country. It only underlines the fact that the Mulhako wa Alhomwe is used to promote DPP agenda.
Interestingly, one of the objectives of Mulhako wa Alhomwe is to promote the Lhomwe culture by promoting its language. In fact, at its initial festivals when it had just been established, there was talk of establishing Lhomwe speaking schools, or introducing Lhomwe language into the school system.
It appears, however, that this objective fell by the wayside. Not so many people are learning and speaking the Lhomwe language today. In fact, Peter Mutharika, the Patron himself, cannot speak a lhomwe word, and it is doubtful if he ever will. He still speaks the language of the tribe that he so much despises and treats with scorn, which is Chewa. It is one of the biggest irony of our time.
When the late President Bingu wa Mutharika (MHSRIP) established Mulhako wa Alhomwe, he meant it to be a decent cultural concept with noble and upright cultural objectives. He wanted the grouping to bring together people of Lhomwe extraction from all over the country for their cultural awakening, and to help them contribute positively to the social and economic development of the country.
It was generally a brilliant idea, which has just been hijacked by political elements for their own political end-games. Peter Mutharika must understand that no matter what he does with the Mulhako wa Alhomwe grouping, the DPP cannot win the next election with the Lhomwe vote alone. The party will also need votes from members of other cultures.
It is also incumbent upon the Mulhako wa Alhomwe cultural grouping to revisit its covert exclusion policies if it wants to be regarded as a serious organization, and eat on the same table with other well-meaning cultural groupings in the country or beyond that have true cultural promotion objectives.
The first step is to do away with some demigods in its system who treat Mulhako wa Alhomwe as their personal estate that can operate based on their whims. The grouping has its own constitution and it is sad that others are consistently raping this constitution to promote DPP and ‘Mutharikaisim’. Unfortunately, it is hurting Mulhako as much as it is hurting the DPP because members of other cultures can now see the bigger picture.
Let Mulhako go back and emulate the times of chairpersons such as Ken Lipenga, Joseph Mwanamvekha and Professor Seyani. The current leadership is the worst in the history of Mulhako. The grouping has totally lost direction and is currently rocked with divisions among its members. Many founding members have opted to take a ‘sit-and-watch’ stance, which is why Mulhako is slowly sliding into a cesspool of anarchy and image crisis.
The Chewas had their Kulamba ceremony; the Ngoni’s of Mzimba and Ntcheu also cerebrated their cultural days, where they strictly barred any politicking including the wearing of party colours because they know culture transcends political boundaries.
It was only at Mulhako ceremony where scores of people were in DPP colours. Peter Mutharika or Leston Mulli must come out and confirm to Malawians that Mulhako is a branch of DPP.
At the next ceremony, I dare Peter Mutharika to speak in Lhomwe.
Disclaimer: Chikumbutso Mtumodzi is writing in his individual capacity as a Malawian and this does not any any way represent the views of the polity