Friday, December 10, 2010

"I warned Steven Monjeza, he was adamant", says Tiwonge 'Aunt Tiwo' Chimbalanga

Tionge Chimbalanga: Monjeza was adamant
Tiwonge Chimbalanga, convicted and pardoned earlier this year for staging Malawi’s first ever gay engagement, has spoken out about his estranged partner, Steven Monjeza, saying he (Chimbalanga) warned him about the adverse effects of back tracking from the decision he (Monjeza) had earlier made to marry the former.

Malawi's first open gay couple of Steven Monjeza (right) and Tiwonge Chimbalanga

Chimbalanga and Monjeza attracted local and international attention when they organized a gay engagement in December 2010, a decision that culminated in their arrest, conviction and sentencing to 14 years imprisonment.

Malawi’s President, Bingu wa Mutharika, later pardoned them, having bowed to pressure from local and international human rights activists. His decision followed a meeting with United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, who took it upon himself to announce to the Malawi Parliament that Monjeza and Chimbalanga had been pardoned.

Chimbalanga and Monjeza later separated, after the latter announced his decision to disassociate himself with Aunt Tiwo. Monjeza then married his sweet-heart, Gloria Gulo.

The new marriage did not live up to expectations, however, as the two separated.

“She (Gloria) just wanted to have a piece of my money. Now that the money I had is gone, she is gone, too; I hear she is now running around,” lamented Monjeza earlier this year.

Monjeza then got into the habit of brushing against the law, as he started stealing people’s property such as cellphones, maize bags, among others.
President Bingu wa Mutharika: Pardoned Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza
Twice, Monjeza was caught on the wrong side of the law at Machinjiri Magistrates’ Court but was luky to get away with suspended sentences and warnings to check on his thieving behavior.

Nevertheless, when such behavior continued, Monjeza was later convicted and sentenced to a custodial sentence- Imprisonment with Hard Labour- and is now serving serving.

Zachimalawi wanted to know how Chimbalanga felt, and caught up with him around 11 O’clock in Blantyre. This was after information reached Zachimalawi from Lilongwe that Chimbalanga had boarded an Axa Executive Coach and would be arriving in Blantyre (next to Blantyre Post Office) around 11 O’clock in the morning.
Tiwonge Chimbalanga (right) and Steven Monjeza enjured public ridicule during their trial

Aunt Tiwo told Zachimalawi he was pressed on time, and wanted to know if it would be okay to talk while walking (towards a brown Toyota Prado packed some 40 metres away). We said it was alright, sine there was no prior arrangement (appointment) to talk to him.

Said Chimbalanga: “The thing is, I warned him about the path he was taking. Actually, I pleaded with him not to do what he planned to do (move away and do his own thing) but he was adamant. I even asked him if he knew what he was doing because I felt that, with our experience, the road would be strewn with thorns and problems.”

Chimbalanga added that he felt “bad” when Monjeza started telling members of the press that he was being forced to behave like a homosexual by human rights activists, wondering whether human rights activists forced them to organize Malawi’s first-ever public gay engagement, too.

“Nobody forced us to do what we did; we knew we were doing the right thing. However, I think he (Monjeza) succumbed to public pressure and did things against his heart.”

Chimbalanga then opened his arms to the man waiting in the brown Toyota Prado..the chat was over.

He, however, promised to spare some time for an exclusive interview spanning over two hours.

Meanwhile, as at now, Chimbalanga is in Blantyre.

Many people expected that he would be part of the Human Rights Day march in Blantyre. Today, December 10, is Human Rights Day, and activists started matching from Victoria (Old Town) Hall in Blantyre around 8 O’clock this morning; main activities will take place at Henry Henderson Institute Hall.

But Chimbalanga was conspicuously missing from the matchers.

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