More than fifty years ago, we agreed to be an independent nation. We fought colonialism and we attained self-rule. We gained our freedom.
But freedom is never free. Freedom is something that we always fight for. For this reason, freedom is precious.
Today, we have gathered to celebrate our freedom as a nation. Let us celebrate the path we walked since Independence and agree how we must proceed from here as a nation.
Over the past fifty years, our economy has failed to take many Malawians out of poverty. We have learnt the bitter lesson of not investing enough in power generation.
Countries such as China and Singapore who were below us in terms of GDP at the time of our Independence have outpaced us. Now we seek aid from them instead of them seeking aid from us.
These are realities we cannot deny. As I have always said, you do not solve a problem by denying it. We all agree that we should have achieved more with our Independence.
Yet, we have made progress worthy celebrating. I can feel that Malawi is rising. When you climb a mountain, you do not always celebrate victory by reaching the top – but also by looking back at how far up you came.
As we celebrate, let us appreciate that we share our existence with our neighbours. From Mozambique to Zambia and Tanzania, we have neighbours worthy our appreciation.
Let us also celebrate by paying tribute to our past leaders and their contribution to our national building.
Let us remember Kamuzu Banda as the father and founder of our nation.
History cannot never reversed. Whatever Kamuzu Banda’s style of leadership was, we cannot take away from our history that he was the father and founder of this nation. May His Soul Rest in Peace.
Let us remember Bingu wa Mutharika as a man who set Malawi on the path to real development. May His Soul Rest in Peace.
Let us celebrate the life of Bakili Muluzi while he lives. This is the man who led us into the democracy we enjoy today.
These are the three men whose leadership define the three phases of Malawian history since Independence. That is why I often say Malawi Congress Party came to end colonialism. The United Democratic Front came to bring us democracy. The Democratic Progressive Party has come to bring development.
Let us also remember the life of Chafukwa Chihana – a very close friend. This is the man who led all of us in exile to return to Malawi. There were many men and women over the last fifty years who fought dictatorship. It was not easy.
I know what it has taken for us to come this far because I have been there. I walked with the freedom fighters and I have known what it took for us to be here. I know what it was like to be arrested at Dedza in March 1959.
Throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s, I dedicated my life to the fight for democracy while I was in exile. We lost our friends in the fight – Orton Chirwa, Masauko Chipembere, Atati Mpakati, Yatuta Chisiza, Silombera, and many more.
In fighting alongside these heroes, I learnt what it means to give one’s life for one’s country. I learnt how to sacrifice for my country and for others. I learnt the value of being selfless.
These are great heroes of the land we must remember to honour. But sometimes, our history is written on the wrong pages. We speak of the fight for Independence but we don’t care about our fight for democracy.
From now onwards, I want to hear that we are teaching our school children a balanced history of the nation. We must teach them our modern history and where we come from if they are to be patriotic.
We cannot be a nation that doesn’t teach our children our modern history. He who does not know where he is coming from cannot know where he is going.
Most of our Youths today have lost their sense of responsibility because we never taught them how we came this far.
On this day, every year, we celebrate our precious freedom because we want to remember where we come from.
We remember our past in order to manage our present and define our future. We learn lessons of the past to accomplish our present and complete our destiny.
With all our challenges, we are a nation that must be proud of our achievements – no matter how small they are.
Let us learn to be proud of our nation. Let us learn to be proud of ourselves. Let us learn to think positively. And think big as a nation!
When we bring electricity to village communities; when we build new roads and bridges connecting people’s lives, bringing rural growth centres – the people in Nthalire, Malomo and Chapananga know that something is happening.
We stabilised the economy, arrested the rising of fuel and food prices, and enabled a village young man to afford to buy a motorbike. Something is happening to our country.
We have economically empowered Malawians to import almost 5,000 cars per month. You can see new filling stations everywhere because Malawians are consuming more fuel. Something is happening.
We have improved the quality of life by changing life expectancy for every Malawian from 37 years in 2004 to 62 years in 2017. Something is happening in this country.
Nobody should tell us to stop developing any part of this country just because you don’t like the people of that part.
We may be different in which of the country we come from. But we do not differ in being Malawians.
We may differ in political parties we come from. But we do not differ that we are all Malawians.
This country belongs to us all. And we all belong to this country. And, it is the only country that we have! We shall never have another Malawi. And I want us to be proud of our country.
When the economy grows, infrastructure development is visible, and life expectancy increases because we are improving the quality of life. That is a rising nation.
Let us celebrate Malawi rising again!