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Monthly Archives: September 2016

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These boards were laid across the capital city, Lilongwe, to commemorate the 52nd Independence anniversary. The mediocrity on display could not anger many Malawians who accepted them without question. 

OF LATE, it has been disheartening to interact with people from the homeland. The sadness punctuating every sentence spoken and the weight of hope at the end of every conversation often becomes too difficult to bear. It is yet another legacy added to the catalogue of failures Malawi is bestowing on her people.

The national soul has been repeatedly violated and tortured by a governance system which always conspires to undermine the confidence of the people it’s meant to serve. This repeated assault on the national soul, occurring over many years and streamlined through our shallow politics, has frighteningly dislodged our sense of alertness as a people.

As a painful result, most Malawians have ended up without any kind of expectation, idea and intimate association with their citizenship. What does it mean to be Malawian? What duty do we have, the whole lot of us, towards negotiating our scarred past, an utterly confused present and an uncertain future?

There are many things that should, in normal circumstances, make us angry and be able to voice that anger until substantive positive action is taken. But nothing ever appears sufficiently wrong for us to rise up and demand that those responsible for the systematic oppression and deliberate under-development in Malawi are taken to task. Read More

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Whenever I think about the young people in Malawi, two incidents that mirror the state of Malawian youths come to mind. Both are not pretty. One is the killing of Epiphania Bonjesi and the other is how, during election periods, young people drench themselves in paint, to reflect their political choices.

In 2004, nine year-old Epiphania was killed by – so we are made to believe – a stray bullet during a police altercation with protesters following the announcement of election results. Over the years, the memory of this girl has been relegated to the dustbin, never to be remembered again.

malawi-flag

The Malawi flag at Independence. Is the sun rising on the young people who are in majority?

Epiphania had a dream. She would have been twenty-one this year and only God knows what sort of girl she would have turned out to be and what sort of dreams she would have nurtured along the way. Yet, that dream went down with that bullet, violently shattering her hopes, dreams and aspirations. That this was caused by men and women who swore to protect and serve her is, perhaps, much more painful than the bullet itself.

More significantly, Epiphania would have had the opportunity to vote – for the very first time in her life – in the 2014 tripartite elections. To think of what opportunities have been lost to this girl, and to her family is heart-breaking. Hers is a death that could have been avoided, it’s a loss that was unnecessary and it is something that this country should be ashamed of having witnessed. Read More

AS YET another conference confirmed what we already know about the state of young people in Malawi, yet another girl, aged below 16, was reportedly raped by her schoolteacher. In a normal society, a schoolteacher is a trusted citizen, a custodian of the values we seek to impart on our children and the embodiment of uprightness and integrity.

Children scavenge for maize floor at a maize mill in the hunger stricken southern district of Chikwawa.

Children scavenge for maize floor at a maize mill in the hunger stricken southern district of Chikwawa. What does the future hold for them? pic: Thoko Chikondi 

In Malawi, however, we have successfully normalised the abnormal. We are long past the stage at which, even in the midst of fierce contradictions, we can claim some semblance of normalcy. We are an abnormal country, with abnormal people, abnormal attitudes and quite frankly, abnormal citizenship.

In 2016, the rape of a minor is casually reported as normal occurrence. In the same year, the abnormality of public service delivery – unprecedented electricity and water cuts – is accepted without question, government excesses are cheered at and mediocrity (a national pastime and identity) is celebrated.

The said conference, on National Population and Development, ended on a very sobering note last Thursday in Lilongwe, exposing the extent to which we have normalised the abnormal. In short, unless something is done URGENTLY, the free-fall this country is in will take generations, if not centuries to arrest and centuries more to restore Malawi on a path of genuine progress. Restoration assumes, of course, that there has previously been a time in which Malawi was on the path of progress. Read More

THE MALAWI Congress Party (MCP) needs to grow up and get a life! At over 50 years old, this is an institution that should be demonstrating political maturity and providing the much-needed leadership in strengthening our political parties. Instead, the MCP has once again showed us that it is not capable of living up to its reputation as the oldest political establishment in Malawi.

This is regrettable.

MCP Party Symbol

MCP Party Symbol

It is undeniable that the party is a strong part of the history of this nation and has its own legacy. However, in the last fifty years, the party has gone through so much transformation that has culminated, unfortunately, in a severely weakened structure, an unclear vision and a dwindling support base, whose evidence is the dismal performances in the last few elections, notwithstanding 2014.

Most episodes of factional battles that have occurred in the party have been circus-like more than they have been tragic. Through all of this, we have been exposed to rather frivolous and dangerous trends in our politics that have seen broken relationships, missed opportunities, the stifling of genuine and robust debate and the conspicuous lack of a sense of goodwill within and between political parties. Read More