Friday, September 9, 2016

Land! Land! Land!

Land is a word that will, for a long time to come, embody the deep fractures of colonialism.
More so because commonality of experience on land issues matters and differs.
Come to think of it, People's Land Organisation, led by Vincent Wandale, has been busy issuing threats that they would occupy private land used as tea plantations in Thyolo and Mulanje.
Nobody took them seriously.
For some time, the temptation was to see the threats as the sidekicks of a desperate human being-- or, rather, human beings.
They said, I mean those in the government, freedom of exxpression is there for all to take.
Well, until Wandale allegedly decided to mobilise people in the village and, according to his bidding, they occupies estate land, damaging some property here and there.
Wandale's position is that Malawi's colonial ruler should pay compensation to the people of Thyolo-- or else the people would repossess the land.
Wandale has been saying what happened is a great injustice to the people of Mulanje and Thyolo, who have been put in a corner in their own country while tea grows healthily, even shaking in the wind, in a land that was supposed to be their own.
It is like, in Wandale's view, cultural domination continues even after Malawi crossed the Independence, and the multiparty politics, line.
Now, forgetting that the right of speech is, on paper, potentially open to all including rural women and men who escorted to the estates and, or took part in, re-occupying the land, Wandale threatened one last time, and, again, nobody listens.
What followed was lawlessness at its best and Wandale is remanded at Chichiri Prison and faces four charges including that of illegally occupying land, malicious damage to property, conduct likely to cause breach of peace.
Finally, despite y he promise of sunny days, Wandale has spent y he past three days in the dark cells at Chichiri Prison.
Before two years ago, I would have condemned Wandale.
But I am a Communication and Cultural Studies scholar, and I understand things better now.
And, so, I will not condemn Wandale's ideas. They are revolutionary.
His action was not.
And, there, lies the problem.
Now, has started a campaign, and written a petition to be delivered to President Peter Mutharika.
There lies another problem. The president does not arrest people. People 'arrest' themselves!

I just do not know who has arrested himself this time around.
And I do not know who may be about to release him.
I do not know.

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