On the 6th of May 2021, the Staff members of the Centre for Social Concern (CfSC) were honoured with the presence of the Minister of Civic Education and National Unity, Honourable Timothy Pagonachi Simbega Mtambo, as they were celebrating Workers’ Day.
The event which brought together not only the workers of the Centre, but also representatives of the Board of Trustees, Missionaries of Africa Parishes and Institutions in Malawi, was held in the premises of CfSC in Area 25, Lilongwe.
After the opening prayer by Rev. Bro. Vitus Danaa Abobo (M.Afr), the MC, Mr. Tobias Jere, welcomed all the guests to the Centre, followed by a self-introduction during which each person shared what work he or she loves doing. Remarkably, most of those present love farming and rearing of animals.
During his opening remarks, the Executive Director, Rev. Fr. Dr. James Ngahy (M.Afr), emphasized that ‘May Day’ or Labour Day “is a celebration of labourers and the working classes which is promoted by the International Labour Movement which occurs every year on the first of May”.
He gave a historical overview of labour day, recounting that it is an ancient European spring festival. He emphasized on the importance of valuing our labour, describing how countries like Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Switzerland pulled up their socks after World War II, and hence, moved from ‘rags to riches’.
He lamented that ‘while most of these countries have excelled, we in the third world countries or South-pole are still complaining and lamenting of colonial exploitation’. “The ‘Dependency syndrome’ is still on our shoulders!”, the Executive Director added.
Besides, he also lamented that many African countries, even some churches and organizations such as CfSC are still at a ‘baby seater level’, though grown-up but not yet grown.
He believes that ‘we need to work hard and creatively if we are to liberate ourselves from the chains of dependency. He added that, when we continue blaming the government for not doing its best and yet we ourselves do less than the minimum at our end, it contradicts the principles of social justice, distributive justice as well as commutative justice.
He challenged all those present to re-look at themselves inside-out and not outside-in. He questioned, “When we hammer the issues of ‘Transparency and accountability’ outside there, how do we live them ourselves from the grass-root level? How do we react when we are challenged ourselves on the same? Are we able to bring these values or aspects and internalize them in our own Families, in our own Communities, in our own Parishes, in our own Organisations or even in our Media profession?”
The Minister of Civic Education and National Unity, who was also the guest of honour, Honorable Timothy Mtambo during his presentation appreciated the great work that the Centre for Social Concern (CfSC) has done and continue to do here in Malawi. He expressed his joy of being part of this great family, adding that “I love everything this family does for the society in Malawi.”
The Minister highlighted the importance of labour in any economy saying, “A country, a community, a society cannot progress without a strong labour force.” He underscored the intrinsic value inherent in every human being saying ‘all of us are born with an inherent value, which is being human. Hence, no one is more important than the other.’ He, however, regretted that sometimes we look down on each other. Adding that we need to apply the golden rule of ‘doing unto others what we would have them do unto us,’ in our daily lives.
He emphasised that ‘For a country like Malawi or an institution like CfSC to move forward, there is the need to appreciate each other and to realise that everyone has a role to play and everyone is important.’ To illustrate his point, the Minister alluded to Plato’s view of the society as expressed in the Republic, where the society is looked at like the human body composed of different parts (Head, Chest and stomach), with each part having a vital role to play in the overall wellbeing of the whole body. “We are interdependent of each other; we are so important in so many ways.” He added. He also challenged all employers to treat their employees with dignity.
The Minister also said that, ‘to ensure that all workers live a dignified life, the Tonse Alliance government upon assumption of office did not only increase the minimum wage from Mk35,000.00 to Mk50,000.00, it also increased the free tax-band to MK100,000.00.’ Adding that these measures are not enough, hence they will continue to work at ensuring that everyone is appreciated for the work they do.
However, the Minister regretted that sometimes we give a lot of pressure to our employers to uphold our rights, while forgetting to do our own responsibilities. He encouraged all workers to work with passion and conviction no matter the work they do, because at the end of the day they are accountable to God. Besides, it is in so doing that we can build our country, he added.
The former Executive Director, Fr. Jos Kuppens (M.Afr) during his speech thanked the Centre for organizing such an event, and also thanked everyone for gracing the occasion and making the day worthwhile. He challenged everyone to work together to build up Malawi, adding that for Malawi to move forward we all need to come on board either as individuals, institutions or government. He, however, regretted that the kind of ‘big man’ syndrome which people are used to undermines people from taking their responsibilities, since through it they shelve their responsibilities unto others. ‘If we want to make people into real patriots, we need to help them to reach the point of realizing that “we can do it” not simply as praise singers but real patriots,’ Fr. Jos Kuppens emphasised. He ended his speech by reminding all that, “A better Malawi is possible but it needs all of us.”
The day was indeed a very reflective and joyful one on which the Centre for Social Concern appreciated the hard work and dedication of all its staff, which enables CfSC to continue impacting the lives of the poor and less privileged in the Malawian society.
By: Vitus Danaa Abobo (M.Afr)