What does democracy mean to the hungry?

Editor, RE: “Democracy and development not mutually exclusive” (The New Times, August 24).


RE: Democracy and development not mutually exclusive” (The New Times, August 24).

All these big words have meaning only if the underlying realities they represent help to improve the people’s lives. Otherwise all you have is empty rhetoric.

To those who are chronically hungry, have no roof over their heads, cannot clothe themselves or their family, or send their children to school or have access to healthcare, these terms are meaningless.

Real democracy or development put human welfare at their core. If you don’t see Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as your roadmap to development and democracy in an underdeveloped society like ours, then you can parrot those concepts all you want; they can never be achieved.

Only the leisurely classes or the congenitally slothful can afford to engage in endless, sterile debates about such big words. For us in Africa, our urgent need is, first and foremost, to enable our people to access what all those cacophonous people take for granted for their own societies (security, ample food, healthcare, housing, education, and jobs) and stop useless debate about what is the real “sex of angels”. 

Those who are insecure, hungry, homeless, sick, without an education to understand how the world they subsist in works or to enable them to get a job to help them work themselves out of poverty can never really understand or enjoy real democracy. They can neither develop nor become their own agents; they can only subsist at the mercy of a world that holds them in contempt.

Mwene Kalinda


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