It is amazing what a significant difference a new leadership can make. Even from a half a world away, I can hear jubilance, everywhere. I can see the royal crown poincianas, the bougainvilleas, the golden dewdrops, and those majestic weeping jacarandas bloom; I can smell the intoxicating fragrance of ylang-ylang; I can see those world famous ring-tailed lemurs hop from canopy to canopy, in the rain forest; I can see one of those prehistoric giant crocodiles float down the river, with not a care in the world. Most of all, I can hear the Malagasy people sing, and I can see them dance. Yes, happiness is in the air.
After spending decades, and centuries aimlessly adrift in tidal waves of corrupt governance practices, Madagascar emerges as a new land of opportunity, with seemingly endless potentials coveted by many nations. She proudly emerges, like a phoenix rising from its own ashes, in the hands of a renaissance leader who seems intent on propelling her into the 21st century, after delivering her from the evils of her past.
Although the future seems bright, a few nagging questions come to mind. Will this leader have enough substance to stay the course, no matter what comes along? Will he break the mold, and leave a legacy of prosperity, and unity, as opposed to one of devastation, and discord? Will he be strong enough not to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors? Last, but not least, will the Malagasy people share in these new opportunities in the form of adequate employment, decent wages, better education, and ample access to health care? These questions linger because we have had many of these opportunities, before, but they never seemed to trickle down to the masses thanks to unscrupulous leaders who only cared about lining their own pockets, and those of a chosen few.
Let us hope that the new leadership, the financial sponsors, and partners will be wise enough, and compassionate enough to know the subtle, but crucial difference “between lending a hand and chaining a soul.” Let us hope that the Malagasy people, in their infinite wisdom, will know enough “to build their roads on today, because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.” Let us hope that they will know enough “to cultivate their own gardens, and tend to their small farms, and ranches, instead of waiting for someone else to help them out.”