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media-blackout

THE STANCE recently taken by media owners and managers to give president Mutharika’s government a black out if threats on media freedom and freedom of expression continue is worth supporting. This is a move that should be supported by all progressive journalists as well as citizens who believe in the role of the media in a democracy.

Meeting at Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre, these media owners and managers recognised the “highly belligerent attitude that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government has taken against the independent media to silence it from telling Malawians the truth.”

As leader of the DPP, Mutharika has not been shy to lead the charge against media freedom in Malawi. Without doubt, his careless and frivolous comments will embolden his supporters, most of whom are given to sycophancy and zealotry. The import of these threats and subsequent action might be too ghastly to contemplate, given what we have seen in the past. Read More

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A woman sells groundnuts as an entrepreneurial means to support her familly. Blantyre, May 2015. – Thoko Chikondi

THREE WEEKS before my third birthday, in 1987, then Burkina Faso leader, Captain Thomas Sankara delivered a speech on the occasion of International Women’s Day. Several thousands of women from all walks of Burkinabe life gathered to listen to the speech and many more accessed it across various media. As a man himself, the irony of the occasion was not lost to Sankara.

“It is not an everyday occurrence for a man to speak to so many women at once,” he began by saying, adding: “Nor does it happen every day that a man suggests to so many women new battles to be joined.”

It is in a similar context of thinking that I frame this entry this week. “A man,” Sankara further says, “experiences his first bashfulness the minute he becomes conscious he is looking at a woman. So, sisters, you will understand that despite the joy and pleasure it gives me to be speaking to you, I still remain a man who sees in every one of you a mother, a sister, or a wife.” Read More

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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

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.

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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

The world’s first self-driving taxi service was recently launched in Singapore. Here is an abridged version of how The Guardian (international) reported on this world-first.

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A nuTonomy car vehicle. Photo-credit: Yong Teck Lim/AP.

“The world’s first “self-driving” taxi service has been launched in Singapore – albeit with a human backup driver and co-pilot on board for the time being.

While multiple companies, including Google and Volvo, have been testing self-driving cars on public roads for several years, nuTonomy said it would be the first to offer rides to the public, beating Uber, which plans to offer rides in autonomous cars in Pittsburgh, by a few weeks.

The service would start with six cars, growing to a dozen by the end of the year, said nuTonomy, adding that it aimed to have a fully self-driving taxi fleet in Singapore by 2018. Read More

This is an odd column to write in 2016. It should be obvious, not so, that women and youth are a critical mass in developing nations? But here I am, making a case for the inclusion of women and youth in the development of Malawi and our attempt at consolidating democracy. Why?

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A lady sells groundnuts as an entrepreneurial means to support her familly. Blantyre, May 2015. PHOTO CREDIT: THOKO CHIKONDI.

A lot of it has to do with a brutal system of patriarchy that is commonplace around the world. This system engenders the superiority of men more than it does women and other sexes. Here in Malawi, we still suffer the same complex and the results have meant women are continuously marginalised, routinely pushed aside and excluded from contributing in the development of this country. Read More

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The entrance to the Kigali Genocide Memorial where 200,000 bodies were buried.

In 1994, when Malawi was ushering in the democratic dispensation, Rwanda was at war with itself. Where we inherited the remnants of a dictatorship, they inherited death in the form of bodies washing themselves ashore in rivers, trapped in forests and lying in the open. There was no country to speak of.

In 2016, when Malawi is contemplating feeding mice and grasshoppers to a starving population, Kigali – the capital of Rwanda – is one major construction site. The people have rolled up their sleeves, taken a decision to move forward are dreaming big.

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