Monday, June 27, 2016

Education standards mantra is misplaced

For a long time, the song in Malawi has been that education standards have dwindled. The yardstick has always been Malawi National Examinations Board results at Primary, junior and senior secondary school levels.
What is quickly forgotten is the fact that examinations' results are just one of the factors influencing the outcomes; the others being learning environment, demotivation of teachers, cultural context, religious context, historical context, home environment, among others.
Factors such as demotivation, learning environment and cultural context may be self-explanatory; so, let me focus on religious and historical context.
Some districts in Malawi, most notably the Southern Region districts of Machinga and Mangochi have high illiteracy rates because the Muslim population is dominant and pupils born from Muslim parents are sent to schools where they learn more about the Holy Koran other than conventional school. This has bled a population of illiterate people in Machinga and Mangochi, and is a typical example of the culture context.
That said, the Central Region district of Dedza has always been a puzzle when considered as a cog in the game-of-illiteracy. The district has Chewas, Ngonis, Yaos and yet, despite the ethnic diversity, illiteracy levels are high. Dedza is a puzzle whose answer has eluded education experts. But, then, this is a story for another day.
Historical context, which is the reason for my posting is another crucial factor which is often overlooked. But the truth is that our education is not 'Malawian' because it was introduced by the British. We even speak their language:English. Whoever controls your language controls you.
So, in a way, Malawians have so many gods (they are idol worshippers), one of their gods being the English language!
Actually, it's not just Malawians (meaning, the individual citizens) who worship English. Their examinations' board, the Malawi National Examinations Board, is the grand-worshipper of the little God called English because you may score 1s in all Malawi School Certificate of Education subjects (be it Geography, Chichewa, Biology, History, Life Skills, History, Chemistry, Bible Knowledge, and what have you) but failure in English means one does not receive a certificate.
What nonsense!
This means English is the best thing to have ever happened to Malawians. What twaddle!
After all this worshipping of the little god called English, we all talk about how low 'our' education standards have sunken.
And, there, lies our biggest mistake. The education does not belong to us; it belongs to the English, who control us by ensuring that we speak in their language and that, most sadly, our definition of failure should be premised on how we fare in English.
When the Akafula, Abathwa or Amwandionerapati-the first inhabitants of Malawi (of course, before Malawi was born-did not have the word 'yellow'in their vocabulary but could communicate effectively. As they say in Cultural Studies, every language is sufficient to meet the needs of that language. When they got into contact with other languages, their vocabulary became limited. They had to accommodate new terminologies. The worst case is that of the Ngoni of Malawi, though. Through exposure to the Chewas and Tumbuka, all their words became limited and they did not only lose their soul; they also lost their language in its entirety, although some pockets of Ngonis speak it and Hora Mountain in Mzimba has become a kind of cross for the Ngoni of Mzimba. Like the two sinners hung with Jesus Christ, they find salvation by looking up - be it upon the cross or Hora Mountain. Maybe their souls and language, respectively, may be redeemed.
What I am saying is that whoever controls one's language controls the other's self. In our case, the British control our thinking because we think in their language. That is not all, however; they even control our education system. If a candidate fails in the English language, they fail themselves, and fail life itself. How sad!
So, when we say our education standards have fallen, we are talking nothing about ourselves, really. More so because we do not have education standards of our own. Instead, we look at standards through the eyes of the British, who decided what sort of education we should have!
No wonder that, with Brexit, some Malawians are having sleepless nights. Unsure of what the impact of Brexit may be on Malawi!
How sad!
So, the British -through their language, English- even control people's sleep in Malawi (in terms of how much sleep one should have)?
How funny!
Unless we describe what constitutes quality education, through comparative analyses of other countries, say in Southern Africa, or some historical context of us against ourselves (in terms of how well candidates used to fare, say, in the 1970s, we cannot talk of education standards going to the dogs because, really, all we are doing is measure education standards using 'foreign' eyes: Those of the British, who control our language, our thinking and, in worst cases, even some people's sleep!
In summary, Malawians are not independent enough to talk of quality education. After all, apart from Chinamwali, Jando, Chikudzukudzu, among others, they (Malawians) do not have education of their own. They are orphaned, education wise.
How scandalous!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Lagos-based Malawians Form Hunger Taskforce

Malawians based in Lagos, Nigeria, have formed what they call Malawi Anti-Hunger Taskforce to help mobilise funds fr hunger-stricken families back home.
State President, Arthur Peter Mutharika, declared a State of National Disaster on April 12 this year, after Malawi failed to meet its national food production needs.
Finance Minister, Goodall Gondwe, announced in the 2016/17 budget statement that the country requires an additional 790,000 metric tonnes of relief food to support an estimated 8.4 million people. An additional 250,000 metric tonnes is required for sale in Agriculture Development and Marketing Corporation markets.
That is not all, though, as 250,000 more metric tonnes are required to restock the strategic grain reserves.
Chairperson for the Lagos-based Malawi Anti-Hunger Taskforce, Emmanuel Mtambalika Mapasa, said the tasforce has managed to mobilise 26 Malawians and has so far mobilised K5.6 million for the cause.
"Our target is to raise funds amoubting to K500 million from Malawians based in Lagos. So far, 23 Malawians have pledged to contribute money ranging from K1 million to K3 million by July 15 this year. We plan to send a delegation of four people to Malawi to present the funds through the Office of the Vice President. We would have loved to present the funds through the formal diplomatic system but I think you know that fraud is rampant in our embassies," said Mtambalika Mapasa.
Mtambalika Mapasa has been staying in Lagos for the past 15 years.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Likangala Form Four Students Go Wild

... speeding vehicle hits three
... One cries uncontrollably

The teachers at Likangala Secondary School in Zomba City had, most likely, good intentions when they hatched the idea of organising a graduation event for Malawi School Certificate of Education students.
The examinations, now at nose-distance away, are not here. But they will be there because the Malawi National Examinations Board already finalised all the work. Again, it is not common for the Malawi National Examinations Board to postpone examinations, save when there is a massive leakage. Like it happened the other year, and all Malawi National Examinations Board employees had to walk with their tails between their legs.
Except the State President. He was a shameless man, and kept his head high in that shameful year. As if nothing had gone wrong.
But there was nothing to hold one's head high about on Friday at Likangala Secondary School after everything went wrong at what was meant to be a graduation ceremony.
Instead of cerebrating, three candidates were 'chewing' the fruits of their insolence.
Having endured the various academic challenges posed to them in the past four years of learning and unlearning, the candidates decided to be too explicit with what they probably thought is the freedom they will 'buy' after sitting [sitting examinations or sitting for examinations are both right] examinations. So, some of the candidates came to the event drunk. Mostly the male candidates. School relationships that had been hidden for years were revealed as some candidates chose to hold and fondle in public. Right before their teachers!
Malawi is suffering from a silent moral crisis! Such behaviour did put the candidates at the fulcrum of debate on Friday. And such behaviour brought to the fore the suggestion that, maybe, Malawians should be compelled to find a new stabilised formula of morality. Dictatorship was mistaken for a political system, other than a stabilised formula of enforcing morality and, so, people hate. But Malawi is at a cross-roads and another formula of stabilisation should be found.
That is one of the thoughts that kept bouncing off my and other people's heads on Friday. At least the ones I was talking with.
To cut a long story short [because I know I have confused you already], the graduation ceremony ended by 4:30 pm and the candidates were furious that it ended so early.
So, they swarmed the nearby road; the road to Mpondabwino Market and Mpunga Township. They started stoning vehicles. Some jumped on the boots of on-coming vehicles and smashed windscreens.
That is when one taxi came speeding [travelling at, perhaps, 80 kilometrees per hour] in the driver's bid to prevent the apparently drunk, out-of-sorts candidates from jumping on it.
But, as I watched, three candidates jumped onto the vehicle, probably thinking the driver would press his feet hard on the brakes and stop.
Big mistake!
They were hit, in broad daylight, and came sprawling to the ground like poorly packed 50-kilogramme bags of rice.
Some candidates in front of the vehicle stoned it and the driver had to stop. They beat him to pulp instead of attending to their fellow students.
The driver, surprised, rushed back into his vehicle and sped away.
Noone was willing to take the three hit, and seriously injured candidates to hospital. To make matters worse, reality [meaning, pain] caught up with the students and they started crying uncontrollably.
Two of them could not even stand up. They cried, apparently in pain, at the slightest touch.
They had paid the price of insolence.
And, then, they have not even sat [you either sit examinations, of sit for examinations: it's all grammatically correct] the examinations!

Friday, June 10, 2016

American Ambassador tours Chancellor College Library

American Ambassador to Malawi, Virginia Palmer, is on a tour of Chancellor College Library in a bid to appreciate the environment it operates in.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

African Union hails Muhammad Ali as 'true Pan Africanist'

Press Release No. 220/2016

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – 6 June 2016: The Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, has hailed the African-American boxing legend, Muhammad Ali, as a true Pan Africanist. The AU Commission Chairperson described Muhammad Ali, also widely known as, “The Greatest of all time”, while sending her deepest condolences to the family, friends and fans of the fallen giant around the world.

The AU Commission Chairperson said Muhammad Ali was a hugely inspiring figure whose impact, beyond his punches in the boxing ring, generated waves of vibration across diverse populations around the globe. He will be missed the world over, and no less in Africa.

Muhammad Ali’s deep roots and extensive connections with the continent of Africa were unshaken. He never let-go of any single opportunity to re-echo his ancestral link with the “homeland”, as he put it in his own words, upholding Africa as the cradle of civilization.

While fighting against George Foreman in the famous encounter that became known as the “Rumble in the Jungle,” in 1974, in Kinshasa, of former Zaire, Muhammad Ali reminded the world that, “Original man’s from Africa. All civilizations started in Africa.” He fought for freedom, justice and equality, including for black people, with unreserved energy and full determination. He supported Africa’s fight against colonialism, including the fight against Apartheid in South Africa.

Muhammad Ali gained prominence (aside from boxing) during the American Civil Rights Movement as a result of his resistance to white domination, and was a champion of minority rights. His stance on issues of freedom, injustice, peace and reconciliation earned him the appointment as United Nations Messenger for Peace in 1998.

He was a great son of Africa, who paid numerous visits to countries and met with different leaders of Africa. “Muhammad Ali was larger than life! His passion and compassion will be greatly missed and forever remembered.” Dr. Dlamini Zuma paid tribute to the fallen baobab.

Leaders across the African continent, have joined global voices to pay tribute to the memory and legacy of Muhammad Ali - a clear pointer to the enormous impact Ali had on the people of Africa.

Muhammad Ali died on Friday, 3 June 2016, at the age of 74, in a Scottsdale, Arizona hospital, after being hospitalized for a respiratory illness a day before.

Monday, June 6, 2016

President Peter Mutharika's Administration running out of steam

The signs are everywhere: President Peter Mutharika and his Minister of Finance and Economic Planning are tired, old men who have nothing constructive to offer to this country.
In their wisdom, the two tired, old men think that talk time, news print, among others, are luxuries this nation can do without.
Come to think of it, in their tired brains, the two tired old men have decided to bring back the late president, Bingo wa Mutharika's script that all but buried freedom of expression in this country.
Bingu, for starters, introduced surtax on news print, thereby influencing price adjustments. Well, people did not stop buying and reading newspapers.
Today, the two tired old men have decided to take us back to the Bingu-situation. They have, in their tired wisdom, decided to impose new suitable measures on news print. The effect is immediate. The cover price of local newspapers have gone up by K50.
At the moment, the most extensive newspaper in Malawi -which mostly happen to be weekend papers- goes at K450 but, thanks to the tired wisdom of two old men who seem to have run out of steam, that is bound to change in the coming days.
The newspapers have made their intentions clear through notices in the newspapers.
I do not know how the Mutharika brothers developed an aversion to freedom of expression, but what I know is that their hatred of the same is so conspicuous it stinks!
Retire, two old men!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

RICHARD CHIROMBO: Media Institute of Souther Africa- Malawi Chapter 'Best Blogger of the Year 2016'

BLOGGER OF THE YEAR, RICHARD CHIROMBO receiving his prize of a Samsung Galaxy Tab from Edward Monster, Public Affairs Officer at the United States Embassy in Malawi, during the Media Institute of Southern Africa-Malawi Chapter media awards gara in Mangochi, May 7, 2016

RICHARD CHIROMBO: Media Institute of Southern Africa - Malawi Chapter Human Rights Journalist of the Year 2016

Blogger and journalist RICHARD CHIROMBO receiving his prize [Lenovo laptop] from Centre for the Development of People Executive Director, Gift Trapence, during the Media Institute of Southern Africa - Malawi Chapter media awards gara in Mangochi, May 7, 2016.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Malawi Revenue Authority is Bad Mother

Malawians will work up one day and discover that all their companies are owned by the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA)!
I say so from an experience I had in Zomba on Saturday. One grocer was visited by MRA officials on Friday and told to shut down the grocery in Zomba Central Business District because he has not remitted tax for goods he sold on pay-forward basis.
I was there and saw it with my own eyes!
We MRA is doing is turning citizens into slaves of debt. If you sell something on credit, MRA seems to think, you have to borrow money to settle taxes for monies you have not collected!
Where one gets the money, the MRA does not care.
This practice is counter-productive and must stop immediately. If the bosses at MRA have run out of ideas, let them resign.
Let business organisations and individuals settle tax dues when they have the money at hand, and not when MRA unreasonably demands that organisations and individuals source money from wherever they can to settle MRA dues even when the money is not readily available because the client will pay forward.
It is an acceptable practice in business to pay forward, especially when there is trust between seller and buyer.
MRA is milking the cow that is traders thin and, with zero-aid budgets, it may discover that it has nobody but itself to milk.
Lastly, let me thank the United States Embassy for the Samsung Galaxy Tab I received as my prize for being Media Institute of Southern Africa - Malawi Chapter Best Blogger of the Year 2016. As you can deduce, the Galaxy Tab is now working and there is no excuse for not posting everyday, even though I have three more months to finish my Bachelor of Arts (Communication and Cultural Studies) programme, which affected the frequency of blog posts in the last two years. Thanks for being there for me, and for sticking to the boat./i>