In the tranquil surroundings of the plush Marriot Hotel in North Raleigh on February 17th, 2009, a forum for Malawi Presidential candidate James Nyondo was introduced by the President of SageWorks Inc.
James Nyondo is a tall man who dominates the room with his presence. He looks like a leader, yet his composure would put the most timid among us at ease. When he starts speaking, his soft voice is reminiscent of the South African patriot and leader Nelson Mandela.
He started his speech by telling the people from the Triangle area about his life and his cause. He is son of a tribal chief, technically what we would call an African Prince. This precludes his telling of his humble beginnings. He is better educated than most of his nation’s people with a bachelor’s in business from the University of Texas at San Antonio and a law degree from the University of South Africa.
Max listened intently along with an audience that filled the three reserved rooms beyond the planned capacity as Mr. Nyondo outlined his vision for Malawi, a nation of over 13 million.
Mr. Nyondo described his early years when he was taught hatred of white men, like many other persons of African birth. His hatred extended to the white man’s religion, christianity.
Events overtook him when he was befriended by a white couple doing missionary work. This was his first turning and a time when he became a Christian while still in Malawi.
Events flipped this vision upside down when he spent time in South Africa. There he describes a period when he tried to worship at a church but was told it was only for white people. He found this contradiction confusing. He may have lost his way for a time but came to realize that the problem wasn’t skin color. It had to do with specific people, and not with the Christian concept.
Max found it nice to know that Mr. Nyondo has come to understand it is the person and not the other attributes that make the difference. It bodes well if his campaign succeeds.
Mr. Nyondo explained how the rich political leaders of Malawi focus all their attention on huge projects. As a result, much of the resources of Malawi are wasted on projects that are never completed as succeeding governments don’t want to finish things past governments could get credit for.
After years outside his country, his father convinced him to come home. At least that is what Max thinks he heard (you would understand if you could see his notes).
Mr. Nyondo returned to Malawi and began traveling around the country. At some point he created a formal organization called Servants of the Nation (SON). This organization helps churches, vilages and families organize around meeting their own needs. The goal is to organize the nation of Malawi to make it self sufficient.
Mr. Nyondo gave several excellent examples of how this works. In one example he describes himself going into a village.
Mr. Nyondo goes to the village chief and asks him if there are any in his village who need aid. (Here Max may have gotten the notes out of order. He is not sure if the chief pointed out a widow). In the village he finds a widow living alone without family in a house where the roof has collapsed. She is destitute and for all intents just waiting to be freed from the misery by death (Max’s interpretation).
Then he goes to the village and explains the situation of this woman. He asks them what they can do. The first impulse is to look to government. They aren’t planning on doing anything.
One by one they come up with ideas about what they can do. One man suggests he has the thatch needed for a roof.
Another suggests some other things that can help the widow get food. Others suggest things they can do to get bedding. It goes on and on. Pretty soon the village is doing what needs to be done to take care of one of its own members. In the process the village is learning how to make life better for everyone.
Mr. Nyondo sees himself and SON as teachers bringing the people of Malawi out of a way at looking at the state to provide to a way of self reliance.
Mr. Nyondo has already registered his party of independent candidates for all one hundred and ninety three seats in the parliament and himself to lead the nation. A mock election held earlier this year indicated that his party has a good possibility of doing what it says it can.
The Malawi elections are May 19th, 2009. The inauguration is on May 20th. In this matter they are many light years ahead of the American model.
Brian Hamilton President of Sageworks Inc. , a company he founded, was impressed when he first met Mr. Nyondo and has been instrumental in bringing him back to this area.
On leaving the forum, Max shook Mr. Nyondo’s hand and wished him well. Of course Max also asked a question to get clarification of his teaching. He is a teacher to his people on how they can make their lives better by helping others.