Countries around the world have their own ways of honouring individuals whose work they consider outstanding, or to have served the greatest good for the greatest number of people.
In the 1950s, Cuban Fidel Castro honoured Argentinian Doctor and revolutionary, Che Guevara with citizenship for his contribution to the Cuban revolution.
The iconic Nelson Mandela is also a good example of people who have been recognized in different countries around the world for their good deeds in politics and international relations. Madiba impacted many lives in his fight against apartheid in South Africa. He was a symbol and epitome of peace around the world.
There are hundreds of streets, boulevards, stadiums and other structures in different countries and continents around the world named after him. Mandela was conferred with hundreds of honorary degrees by scores of universities around the world
Over the course of his life, Nelson Mandela was given over 250 awards, accolades, prizes honorary degrees and citizenships in recognition for his political accomplishments and efforts to bring peace in the world.
For example, apart from his bronze bust, which was elected on London’s South Bank by the Greater London Council administration of Ken Livingstone in 1985, there is also a Mandela statue in London’s Parliament Square.
He was a free citizen of cities in Greece, Italy, Belgium, Wales and so many cities around the world because those countries saw it best to take that approach as a way of honouring him.
Malawi is not a stranger to this time honoured tradition. Malawi has so many streets, buildings and structures that were named after various individuals. We have streets like Mahatma Gandhi, Haile Selassie, Jomo Kenyatta, Ali Hassan Mwinyi, Paul Kagame, and other individuals that were not Malawians.
However, only a few people in Malawi know who Mahatma Gandhi was, let alone if there was any significant financial contribution that he made towards the social and economic development of the country. But we still named our street in his honour anyway.
What is troubling is that there are a few small-minded Malawians who are yet to understand the concept of honouring people for their various good deeds.
In the past week, some people have been up in arms, particularly on the social media, over the diplomatic passport that Malawi issued to a Nigerian businessman, Dozy Mmobuosi earlier this month.
Whatever the reasons the detractors are forwarding, it is important to know that value is not always sequestered in one place and that a bashful beggar has an empty wallet.
Mr. Dozy Mmobuosi is a businessman with comprehensive repute in international investment as well as philanthropy. He is the founder and CEO of Tingo Inc. and Tingo International Holdings, with a portfolio of investments spanning real estate, mobile technology, construction and agriculture.
In 2001, Mmobuosi founded Tingo Mobile to provide mobile technology and Fintech solutions to rural communities in Nigeria. In December 2022, Dozy Mmobuosi unveiled the Dozy Mmobuosi Leadership Centre (DMLC), housed in Oxford, United Kingdom, with the aim of developing African leaders skills to help them transform their private and public sector services.
In January 2019, Dozy Mmobuosi launched Nwassa, a digital Agri-Marketplace that is Africa’s first agricultural technology and digital platform to help enhance agriculture value chains, and to help Nigerian farmers establish linkages to high value markets around the world.
Dozy launched the Dozy Mmobuosi Foundation to address several key challenges across Africa. The Foundation will begin to address healthcare challenges across Nigeria as well as working to provide financial support to students who are struggling to access quality education through a loan program.
Beyond giving loans for education, the Dozy Mmobuosi Foundation will also be partnering with the governments across Africa including non-governmental organisations as well as educational institutions towards engaging Nigerians, Africans, and the leaders in better critical thinking practices.
Mmobuosi believes that providing courses around critical thinking and entrepreneurship will be the key framework for a highly-skilled, high performing, next-generation workforce and leadership, which would be integral to Africa’s progress towards meeting its latent potential.
In Malawi, the Dozy Mmobuosi Foundation has pledged to construct over 100 houses for Cyclone Freddy victims in Phalombe District, and has already released K500 million towards the project.
Dozy Mmobuosi himself was present at the launch of the construction project in Phalombe District in the area of Sub Traditional Authority (STA) Mphweremwe in the company of former Presidents, Bakili Muluzi and Joyce Banda.
Obviously, Dozy Mmobuosi is not Nelson Mandela and does not even come close. But even the great Nelson Mandela was once investigated; he was even banned and put on a list of dangerous terrorists by the US government The world learnt, however, that you cannot judge a man based on a single incident.
Dozy Mmobuosi could be by far the closest in terms of touching the lives of many Malawians than all the individuals we named our streets after combined. It is okay if the Malawi Government has decided to issue him with a diplomatic passport. Malawians let us not be petty.