It is impossible to hear people , either as individuals or organisations, talk about the necessity of abolishing the death penalty without a creeping wonder: What is in there for them?
And this line of reasoning [or is it questioning] is natural and very much an integral part of that ancient force of nosy behaviour called curiosity.
You see, any new idea, suggestion or proposal is like a mountain top or valley: it is impossible to ignore because it rises above, or falls below, the normal and the familiar.
And, so, it must not hit you as the subject of a creeping wonder [or point of surprise] that I am raising an alarm against the persistent -- and gradually successful-- campaign to have the death penalty scraped from our statutes.
To begin with, nothing happens by chance, especially in the world of project implementation. Designers are behind the curtains, strategically doing everything that may lead to successful implementation of an initiative while, at the same time, ensuring that it [the initiative] gives the impression of natural progression.
I am thinking along these lines as I tackle the issue of the campaign to scrape off the death penalty from our statutes. I am also thinking as a Communication and Cultural Studies student, too. I think outside the box and, often, I think about power relations.
Well, the campaign to abolish the death penalty from our statutes started deceptively after 1994.
Ironically, it was the then 'Son of a poor man' and 'Soldier' Lucius Banda who was 'used' [or, rather, abused] in this case. He 'composed' Keseli kwa Ndende in which he implored Malawians to be considerate of those convicted for murder.
Lucius -- I mean, the persona is Kuseli kwa Ndende equated the state machinery to a 'murderer' if it hanged those sentenced to death.
It must be said that Lucius did wonders in terms of imagery, as he put a human face to the issue of hanging people convicted on murder charges.
Kuseri kwa ndende
Kuli maka-ko oo!
N'pomwe adzaphedwe momvetsa chisoni
N'pomwe adzaphedwe momvetsa chisoni
Dziko lathu likanangomva
Kulira kwawo o!
Poti wena amangophedwa
Chigawenga n'chowuma mtima
Chinapha muthu u
Koma ngati boma lichibwenzera
In summary, the personally is putting the listener in the position of a prisoner waiting to be hanged. The prisoner waits for days on end-- uncertain of what may come next.
The prisoner is certain that death will come, yes; but is in the dark about when it would come. People have talked of situations where individuals die a thousand, million, times before their actual death. This is one such scenario.
The persona in Lucius' song goes on to say "A dangerous criminal murdered a man. If the government reiterates [by hanging the murderer], how different are the two?"
But, then, there are contradictions in the lyrics. The convict is a "dangerous" murderer, after all. It has been proven in court. Why should the murderer be sustained, on the state's bill?
Of course, there are other murder convicts who had nothing to do with the murder. They found themselves at the wrong place at the wrong time. They are constrained, resource-wise, and did not get the best legal representation they could, otherwise [resources permitting], get.
And, so, they find themselves behind bars-- waiting for a death that is not theirs. There are such cases, yes. And it is sad that such cases are there.
But, then, we have suspects who actually killed, willingly, and do not want to pay the price of death.
When Atupele Muluzi, a lawyer, was Legal Affairs Committee [of Parliament] chairperson during the late Bingu wa Mutharika's regime, the committee members went outside the country to appreciate how other countries were fairing on the issue [of the death penalty.
On return, Atupele said: "Malawi is not ready to abolish the death penalty."
And, since then, the scrape-the-death-penalty advocates have gone into mute mode. But, time and again, Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation executive director, Timothy Mtambo, wakes up from his deep slumber to talk about the importance of scraping the death penalty from the statutes.
And, then, he goes back to the comfort of his silence again. And days go by.
In the background, the campaign goes on.
Now, going back to the issue of the reasoning behind calls to scrape off the death penalty from our statutes. I think [as a Communication and Cultural Studies student] that someone wants the world to rid itself of the death penalty in readiness for another holocaust.
I suspect it will take place in Africa this time around. And there will be nobody to hold accountable and hang for the senseless murders that are to take place. Call it my conspiracy theory but, surely, this thing will take place.
And, then, people will realise the sheer folly of scraping the death penalty from the statutes.
We will all have helped in clearing the ground for murder and no one-- not the next generations, at least-- will forgive us for letting this things happen.
But we can prevent this thing by saying 'No' to suggestions that we scrape the requirement to hang those caught with their hands in the jar.