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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

(Editor’s Note: the first section of this article is written by Levi Kabwato)

AROUND THE WORLD, Empathy is in short supply. Our ability to move past tragedy and forget them is quite alarming. The hashtags on social media have not made things easier as well. You can simply hashtag your message and feel you have done enough so you can move on with your life. Perhaps this should be fine, if you consider that a lot more goes ignored because, well, most people just do not have the time or strength to devote to every problem of the world.

Surely, however, there are things that can be done at a local level. There are various actions that can be taken in order to deal with social ills and other malaise in the pursuit of justice. It does not have to be earth-shattering – just simple expressions of Empathy that reveal what our African-ness is all about – Ubuntu/Umunthu.

I am because you are. Read More

Earlier this week, a report from the South African Police Service (SAPS) made for sad reading. Some Malawians were busted for human trafficking in the North West province.

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PHOTO CREDIT: SOUTH AFRICAN POLICE SERVICES

“On investigation, and during the search,” the report said, “fifty-seven (57) undocumented children aged between eleven (11) and twenty-one (21) years were found in the back of a delivery truck which is without windows. Eighteen (18) of these children are girls (females) while thirty-nine (39) of them are boys (males). These children were transported by the three adult occupants including the driver who are Malawian nationals. These adults could not provide a satisfactory account on the status of all the children. The driver and his two companions were arrested for human trafficking. Further probe has revealed that all children were also Malawian nationals.” Read More