Tuesday, November 22, 2016

President Peter Mutharika Moving Away From Bingu's Dream

They were brothers to boot.
In fact, it was one brother, former president Bingu wa Mutharika, who plucked Peter Mutharika, Malawi's incumbent president, from the United States of America where he had been thing as professor.
And, since his introduction in 2008, President Peter Mutharika has moved on to become Malawi's president, having shrugged off Joyce Banda and her People's Party in the 2014 Tripartite Elections.
However, Peter, too willing to distance himself from the Bingu wa Mutharika who plucked him from near oblivion, has started touting things Bingu wa Mutharika took for granted.
For example, while Bingu wa Mutharika openly made fun of boreholes, saying they were not sustainable, president Peter Mutharika was on Monday all over the sky, celebrating that his government has constructed 12 boreholes under Central Region Water Board.
By all standards,  Peter was supposed to be ashamed that a whole water board has reduced itself to a borehole-driller, instead of providing safe, tapped water to people.
Peter's shift is, indeed, ambarrassing.
Bingu wa right and Peter is wrong.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

FOR ZOMBA




There comes a time when, as Richard Washburn Child— former United States of America Ambassador to Italy; yes, he who wrote the foreword in Benito Mussolini’s ‘My Autobiography’— puts it, one reaches fourth to touch reality in himself, and finds that he himself has gone a little forward, isolated, determined, illusive, untouchable, just out of reach— onward!
Well, it must be that time.
One day, three years ago, I made Zomba my second home under the pinch of necessity.
But, then, the movement itself was just soup; the main dish was hope that, once I would stumble in the trenches of tertiary education, I would leave ignorance— ignorance and my own uncertainty— behind.
Well, it has happened. But it has not happened.
Why? Because where I went [Zomba]— which I thought was the future; more less like a forward movement— has only brought me back to what I left behind [in Blantyre]. That is, experience. Life’s experience.
So much so that, as I go back to Blantyre, turning my back on Zomba, I realise that the forward move I made has, through its lessons, only taken me back to ‘The behind’— the world that was supposed to remain behind. That world is not Blantyre; that world is life.
Now, I will let Benito Mussolini speak for me:
"I do not believe in the supposed influence of books. I do not believe in the influence which comes from perusing the books about the lives and characters of men.
For myself, I have had only one great teacher.
The book is life— lived.
The teacher is day-by-day experience.
The reality of experience is far more eloquent than all the theories and philosophies on all the tongues and on all the shelves.
I have never, with closed eyes, accepted the thoughts of others when they were estimating events and realities either in the normal course of things or when the situation appeared exceptional."
Now, I do not know what I am saying.
And, so, let me leave Zomba behind. To Blantyre; where I will know what to think, believe and say.
I do not know what I am saying!

FOR ZOMBA




There comes a time when, as Richard Washburn Child— former United States of America Ambassador to Italy; yes, he who wrote the foreword in Benito Mussolini’s ‘My Autobiography’— puts it, one reaches fourth to touch reality in himself, and finds that he himself has gone a little forward, isolated, determined, illusive, untouchable, just out of reach— onward!
Well, it must be that time.
One day, three years ago, I made Zomba my second home under the pinch of necessity.
But, then, the movement itself was just soup; the main dish was hope that, once I would stumble in the trenches of tertiary education, I would leave ignorance— ignorance and my own uncertainty— behind.
Well, it has happened. But it has not happened.
Why? Because where I went [Zomba]— which I thought was the future; more less like a forward movement— has only brought me back to what I left behind [in Blantyre]. That is, experience. Life’s experience.
So much so that, as I go back to Blantyre, turning my back on Zomba, I realise that the forward move I made has, through its lessons, only taken me back to ‘The behind’— the world that was supposed to remain behind. That world is not Blantyre; that world is life.
Now, I will let Benito Mussolini speak for me:
"I do not believe in the supposed influence of books. I do not believe in the influence which comes from perusing the books about the lives and characters of men.
For myself, I have had only one great teacher.
The book is life— lived.
The teacher is day-by-day experience.
The reality of experience is far more eloquent than all the theories and philosophies on all the tongues and on all the shelves.
I have never, with closed eyes, accepted the thoughts of others when they were estimating events and realities either in the normal course of things or when the situation appeared exceptional."
Now, I do not know what I am saying.
And, so, let me leave Zomba behind. To Blantyre; where I will know what to think, believe and say.
I do not know what I am saying!

FOR ZOMBA




There comes a time when, as Richard Washburn Child— former United States of America Ambassador to Italy; yes, he who wrote the foreword in Benito Mussolini’s ‘My Autobiography’— puts it, one reaches fourth to touch reality in himself, and finds that he himself has gone a little forward, isolated, determined, illusive, untouchable, just out of reach— onward!
Well, it must be that time.
One day, three years ago, I made Zomba my second home under the pinch of necessity.
But, then, the movement itself was just soup; the main dish was hope that, once I would stumble in the trenches of tertiary education, I would leave ignorance— ignorance and my own uncertainty— behind.
Well, it has happened. But it has not happened.
Why? Because where I went [Zomba]— which I thought was the future; more less like a forward movement— has only brought me back to what I left behind [in Blantyre]. That is, experience. Life’s experience.
So much so that, as I go back to Blantyre, turning my back on Zomba, I realise that the forward move I made has, through its lessons, only taken me back to ‘The behind’— the world that was supposed to remain behind. That world is not Blantyre; that world is life.
Now, I will let Benito Mussolini speak for me:
"I do not believe in the supposed influence of books. I do not believe in the influence which comes from perusing the books about the lives and characters of men.
For myself, I have had only one great teacher.
The book is life— lived.
The teacher is day-by-day experience.
The reality of experience is far more eloquent than all the theories and philosophies on all the tongues and on all the shelves.
I have never, with closed eyes, accepted the thoughts of others when they were estimating events and realities either in the normal course of things or when the situation appeared exceptional."
Now, I do not know what I am saying.
And, so, let me leave Zomba behind. To Blantyre; where I will know what to think, believe and say.
I do not know what I am saying!

FOR ZOMBA




There comes a time when, as Richard Washburn Child— former United States of America Ambassador to Italy; yes, he who wrote the foreword in Benito Mussolini’s ‘My Autobiography’— puts it, one reaches fourth to touch reality in himself, and finds that he himself has gone a little forward, isolated, determined, illusive, untouchable, just out of reach— onward!
Well, it must be that time.
One day, three years ago, I made Zomba my second home under the pinch of necessity.
But, then, the movement itself was just soup; the main dish was hope that, once I would stumble in the trenches of tertiary education, I would leave ignorance— ignorance and my own uncertainty— behind.
Well, it has happened. But it has not happened.
Why? Because where I went [Zomba]— which I thought was the future; more less like a forward movement— has only brought me back to what I left behind [in Blantyre]. That is, experience. Life’s experience.
So much so that, as I go back to Blantyre, turning my back on Zomba, I realise that the forward move I made has, through its lessons, only taken me back to ‘The behind’— the world that was supposed to remain behind. That world is not Blantyre; that world is life.
Now, I will let Benito Mussolini speak for me:
"I do not believe in the supposed influence of books. I do not believe in the influence which comes from perusing the books about the lives and characters of men.
For myself, I have had only one great teacher.
The book is life— lived.
The teacher is day-by-day experience.
The reality of experience is far more eloquent than all the theories and philosophies on all the tongues and on all the shelves.
I have never, with closed eyes, accepted the thoughts of others when they were estimating events and realities either in the normal course of things or when the situation appeared exceptional."
Now, I do not know what I am saying.
And, so, let me leave Zomba behind. To Blantyre; where I will know what to think, believe and say.
I do not know what I am saying!

Same Regional Business

In less than 12 hours, the Malawi Electoral Commission will announce the winner of the Parliamentary Election in Mchinji District, the Central Region stronghold of the opposition Malawi Congress Party.
As usual, the opposition Malawi Congress Party's candidate will emerge victor.
As usual, this will be taken as usual.
Because regionalism runs deeper than policies in Malawi's narrow-minded politics.
Maybe the next generations may change this!

Same Regional Business

In less than 12 hours, the Malawi Electoral Commission will announce the winner of the Parliamentary Election in Mchinji District, the Central Region stronghold of the opposition Malawi Congress Party.
As usual, the opposition Malawi Congress Party's candidate will emerge victor.
As usual, this will be taken as usual.
Because regionalism runs deeper than policies in Malawi's narrow-minded politics.
Maybe the next generations may change this!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Gwanda Chakuamba: So Near, Yet So Far Away

At 81, the heart of the once mighty Gwanda Chakuamba,  a veteran politician from the Lower Shire, has been stilled at last.
In that instance Monday morning, an instant at Blantyre Adventist Hospital when Gwanda's body could not pull any more-- a morning when his will could not out-muscle his heart-- Malawi lost a giant of gigantic proportions.
Never, in recent memory; never in recent history; never, in the foreseeable future shall a Gwanda stand still.
He braced prison life during the one party regime. At one point, he was one of those pushing others that way, the jail way-- when, for example, he served as one of the leaders for the defunct Malawi Young Pioneers.
And, then, others turned the knife on him-- facilitating his path to jail.
And, at 81, he forgets all that.
Because a dark cloud has stood in the way of the light of happiness, if not the light-of-Gwanda's presence.
Now, Gwanda will be remembered as a fearless leader. A leader who took the Malawi Congress Party on his shoulders and represented it as presidential candidate. When, that is, all was well with John Zenus Ungapake Tembo.
He also stood as Mgwirizano Coalition presidential candidate when a presidential candidate with clout was needed in 2004 to  beat United Democratic Front's hand-picked Bingu wa Mutharika.
People, voters that is, were hopeful that here was someone-- a Gwanda Chakuamba-- who could upset the political order and push the United Democratic Front, whose president Bakili Muluzi had reached the junction of his constitutional road as Republican president.
On that hope, the hope for change from yellow to something non-yellow, voters went to vote enmasse in the 2004 presidential elections.
When Bingu wa Mutharika still carried the day, those days when Justice James Kalaile was Malawi Electoral Commission president, voters went on riot, burning tyres in such Blantyre townships as Zingwangwa, Bangwe, Ndirande.
A United Democratic Front office in Ndirande (Goliyo) was torched down. The ruins of that deplorable action can be seen today, stripped of the yellow ( United Democratic Front's party colour) colour that adorned it.
A United Democratic Front office in Chitawira was torched down.
Malawi was in a violent crisis.
In the heat of that moment-- the heat, in this case, representing the love for Gwanda Chakuamba -- a 13-year-old Epiphania Bonjesi--  an innocent, soft-spoken Catholic girl who loved her rosary and faith-- was gunned down by one towering figure called a Malawi Police Service officer.
People know where Bonjesi is buried.  But none can identify that police officer. He, surely it must have been a he, was shielded by the system that claims to defend justice when it promotes injustice.
Gwanda then did a number of things in between. He formed his Republican Party.
He joined the Democratic Progressive Party of Bingu wa Mutharika, in which he served as Agriculture Minister-- becoming famous for demanding a BMW  (his favourite car) when hunger was biting the stomach linings of millions in Malawi.
Along the way, he joined the People's Party of Joyce Banda in the run up to the 2014 Tripartite Elections.
Just recently, he became more blue than the Democratic Progressive Party.
And, on Monday, he became history, the main ingredient of Malawi's post-1994 political history.
To say the truth, justice delt Gwanda a great injustice and, from today onwards, he shall be remembered as someone who came so close to the presidency and, yet, remained so far away-- coming close to power only when he was hoping.
Now he hopes no more for earthly positions. As a self-proclaimed pastor, he hopes for better history.
As he lives no more, in body, but remains forever present in our memories.
Oh, Gwanda, oh! 

President Peter Mutharika's Education Legacy

More than anything else, President Peter Mutharika, who is live and ticking, will be remembered for announcing in the 2014/2015 academic year that Junior Certificate of Education (JCE ) examinations had been abolished.
But, like all abrupt decisions, the decision did not take effect there and then. Instead, candidates will just be having continuous assessment from the 2016/17 academic year.
Why? JCE was costly, in terms of examinations' processing. The certificate, meaning the paper, cost a leg.
Of course, arguing that the processing of learning is more valuable than the certification makes sense.
Again, JCE certification lost ground a long time ago, so that employers no longer fancy JCE holders as academically sound.
That said, nothing beats the image of a shining certificate, JCE or not.
Again, JCE helped students study their Form One and Form 2 work before proceeding to senior level. In other words, it helped them get accustomed to examinations' fever.
Additionally,  JCE served as a sieving mechanisms, screening those who might, otherwise, have not been ready for Malawi School Certificate of Education examinations.
The abolition of the same has, therefore, brought unnecessary panic, and reduced the expectation that Malawians had on their education system.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Why Malawian Presidents Take Traditional Leaders to UN General Assembly

... some history
Never, in the past two years and four months since President Peter Mutharika won the May 2014 Tripartite Elections, has the President's absence from, and presence in, Malawi raised equal attention.
Not until he left Malawi for the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York, United States of America (U.S.), on September 16, 2016 and returned on October 16, 2016.
In fact, his going was a routine issue. Malawi's presidents have never missed out on the opportunity to jump on the next plane to New York whenever United Nations member states flock to the U.S.. Such a trip is a, kind of, ritual.
The only debate that rages in the media-- and this, too, has caught the imagination of Malawians in the past two years and four months-- hovers over the topic of how many people have made the trip.
For your information, no trip to the  UN General Assembly is worth it if traditional leaders-- hordes of them for comfort sometimes-- do not accompany the President. So, the media have been spending time on such trivia as how many people accompany the president-- which is a none-issue any way, since people, both those who deserve it and those who do not, have always accompanied Malawi's presidents. And, always, traditional leaders are part of the fray.
The genesis of this is former president Bakili Muluzi's regime.
Muluzi, who was elected in 1994, presided over a regime that ensured that The Senate-- a public body that would have seen traditional leaders mouthing out their views-- did not exist in the statutes.
And there had to be a way of placating the traditional leaders, one of which being the selection of a lucky few to accompany the president to New York for the useless-as-usual U.N. indaba.
It was a way of saying, 'Thank you'. Just that the 'Thank you' costs the Malawian tax payer a leg.
Other presidents, starting with Bingu wa Mutharika after Muluzi had finished his second, five-year term in 2004, continued the tradition, if not perfected it.
After Bingu left office on April 5, 2012-- after collapsing in his office at the New State House in Lilongwe-- Joyce Banda perfected that tradition.
In fact, Joyce Banda will go down in history as the only president who believed that his influence would be perpetuated by traditional leaders. Come to think of it, between April 7, 2012-- when she took over the stick of power from Bingu-- and March 2014, as Malawians prepared for the first Tripartite Elections slated for May 2014, Joyce Banda had promoted 40, 000 traditional leaders!
Well, the incumbent Peter Mutharika was next on the train of appeasement.
Last year, he came under a barrage of criticism for going to the UN indaba with a bloated entourage of 100-plus people. Of course, the government machinery said some of those who made it to New York had been sponsored by other organisations.
Whatever the case, one unofficial duty of the president of Malawi-- any president-- seems to be the appeasement of as many traditional leaders as possible.
And the UN General Assembly has always been a perfect, justifiable excuse.

Girls held by Boko Haram need support to rebuild shattered lives

...Chibok girls’ family reunions highlight plight of thousands of girls held by Boko Haram
ABUJA, Nigeria, October 18 --
The emotional reunification with their families on Sunday of 21 of the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram more than two years ago in Chibok, northeast Nigeria, highlights the need for intensive support for women and girls who have been held by the group.
“The release is great news and we are delighted to see the girls back with their families, but we must keep pressing for all the women and children held by Boko Haram to be freed,” said Gianfranco Rotigliano, Representative of UNICEF Nigeria a.i. “And we must bear in mind that all of those who have been held by Boko Haram will face a long and difficult process to rebuild their lives after the indescribable trauma they have suffered.”
The more than 200 Chibok girls abducted by Boko Haram in April 2014 are among thousands of women and girls that UNICEF estimates have been held and subjected to violence by the group.
UNICEF has supported hundreds of women and girls who have already been released or escaped from Boko Haram.
The girls report they have been subjected to rape – frequently in the form of forced “marriages” –   beatings, intimidation and starvation during their captivity. Many returned pregnant or with babies as a result of rape.
When they do reach safety, girls who have been held by Boko Haram are often ill, malnourished, traumatized and exhausted; they are in need of medical attention and psychosocial support so they can begin to come to terms with their experiences and reintegrate with their families and communities.
Frequently, returning to their families and communities is the beginning of a new ordeal for the girls, as the sexual violence they have suffered often results in stigmatization. People are also often afraid the girls have been indoctrinated by Boko Haram and that they pose a threat to their communities. The use by Boko Haram of children – mostly girls – as so called ‘suicide’ bombers has fuelled such fears. Children born as a result of the sexual violence are at even greater risk of rejection, abandonment and violence.
Since January, UNICEF and its partner International Alert have been providing psychosocial support for women and girls who have experienced sexual violence at the hands of Boko Haram. UNICEF and International Alert are also working with affected communities through a network of trained religious and community leaders to promote acceptance and to address negative perceptions that hamper the reintegration of women and girls who have suffered such violence.
Funding from the Swedish International Development Agency and the UK Department for International Development has so far this year enabled UNICEF to provide a comprehensive programme of reintegration assistance to more than 750 women and girls subjected to Boko Haram-related sexual violence.
With such large numbers of women and girls having been held by the group, however, the long-term provision of much-needed support remains heavily underfunded.
SOURCE: United Nations Children’s Fund

The United States and WFP welcome a Second Ship Carrying Critical Food Commodities for Sudan

...The food commodities will be used to assist more than 2 million vulnerable people across the countryPORT SUDAN, Sudan, October 18 --
In support of its operations in Sudan, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), today welcomed the arrival of over 50,000 metric tons of assorted food commodities including sorghum, lentils and vegetable oil from the American people.
The food commodities will be used to assist more than 2 million vulnerable people across the country. These include 200,000 South Sudanese refugees for three months, over 725,000 internally displaced people in all of Darfur’s five states for four months, 900,000 school children for six months, and more than half a million people who have been affected by the lean season which lasts from April to October each year.
U.S. Embassy’s ChargĂ© d’Affaires, a.i., Ervin Massinga and USAID Sudan Mission Director Dr. Jeffrey Ashley joined WFP Sudan Country Director and Representative Matthew Hollingworth in Port Sudan to welcome the arrival of the U.S. ship. In May this year, WFP welcomed the arrival of a shipment of 47,000 metric tons of sorghum ‒ also donated by USAID ‒ that was used to cover the needs of South Sudanese refugees and internally displaced people in Darfur.
In 2016, WFP plans to assist 4.6 million vulnerable people in Sudan through a number of different activities
“The United States through our strong implementing partner, WFP, continues to provide critical food assistance in a timely manner to areas that face severe food insecurity and malnutrition due to conflict and drought. The United States remains committed to fighting hunger and malnutrition and urges all parties to allow unfettered humanitarian access so as to end unnecessary suffering,” said ChargĂ© d’Affaires a.i. Massinga.
Since 2011, the United States has been a long-standing partner and the largest single donor to WFP in Sudan contributing over USD 900 million to WFP’s operations in the country. Its generous contributions have enabled WFP to provide assistance to all those in need across a range of activities implemented through general food distribution, school feeding, nutrition and food-for-assets programmes.
“I am very pleased to be here in Port Sudan and to welcome this ship carrying food for the people we serve across Sudan,” said Hollingworth. “WFP is grateful for the continued support from the U.S. Government and people which helps us provide much-needed assistance to vulnerable families in the country.”
In 2016, WFP plans to assist 4.6 million vulnerable people in Sudan through a number of different activities, including emergency food and cash-based transfers, nutritional support and resilience-building activities to help communities become self-reliant.
SOURCE: World Food Programme