Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Drawing Lessons from the Tale of Two Friends

By: Alfred Mwanda 

Waziona and Tambwali were best friends. They helped one another in times of sorrows and frustrations. Their wives also interacted very well and they were lucky and they all thanked almighty God for giving them such loving and caring husbands.

Both Tambwali and Waziona were working at a post office, although the two were good firiends, Tambwali was admiring the wife of Waziona and secretly he was doing everything possible to entice Waziona`s wife for them to engage in a secret sexual relationship.

On the morning of monday as they were going to work, Tambwali told waziona that he was not feeling well, therefore, he said he will not be able to work as required and he asked Waziona if he can be allowed to go back home and have some bed rest, in response Waziona said “my friend do not force yourself to report for duties when you are not feeling well, go home and have some rest, I will inform the supervisor on the same.”

Tambwali happily went back to his house, upon arrival his wife welcomed him, however, she was wondering as to why he has returned from the work at such early hours. Tambwali went straight to the bedroom and changed the clothes, thereafter he told his wife that he was going to deliver things to his friend`s wife.  Though Tambwali`s wife insisted to know the type of things he wanted to deliver but Tambwali did not reveal, saying his wife has no mandate to question his husband on everything he does.

A few hours later, Tambwali arrived at Waziona`s house and he was cordially welcomed by Waziona`s wife, 

Takulandirani alamu!” (welcome!) Screamed waziona`s wife. 

Tambwali started clearing his throat by saying: mlamu all along I have been wondering as to why a beautiful woman like you, that deserve to be crowned Miss Malawi married to simple and villagish waziona, you know quite me right, you are misusing yourself by only relying to that man Waziona, I wish you well thats why I have decided to come and have a side meeting with you for the benefit of you.

Ha,ha,ha laughed Waziona`s wife ,  Alamu am I dreaming, how can you say that? Is my husband not your friend? “I have no problem with Mr Waziona he gives me happines thats all what I need from him.” Tambwali upon hearing this, he fished out K20,000 from his pocket and said to Waziona`s wife, here is the money you can buy anything you wishes, to this end, Waziona hits the nail on his head by saying to Waziona`s wife that the two should be in secret sexual relationship.

Later the relationship started and one day Tambwali and the wife of waziona agreed to go and enjoy the view of the Lake Malawi in Mangochi. Both of them cheated their spouse that they are visiting their relatives in their respective villages and indeed the trip to mangochi was organised.

On the way back from the lake they had an accident in which both of them sustained serious injuries and they were rushed to hospital. Waziona and the wife of Tambwali got the news of the accident and immediately they went to hospital where both Tambwali and Wazion`s wife were admitted.  They were all shocked to learn that Tambwali and Waziona's wife were together in the vehicle which Tambwali hired. Furthermore, the fact that  they were in mangochi giving each other memorable moments made them to cry like hungry babies looking for their mothers to breast feed them. Nobody believed that  Tambwali was cheating and going out with his friend's wife.

Readers,  according to what happened ...

1.     Should waziona forgive his friend Tambwali ?

2.     should tambwali's wife be the guardian of Tambwali at the hospital, considering the fact that Tambwali cheated her ?

3.     Who is to blame between Tambwali and Waziona`s wife? [give the reason for your answer]

4.     What do you think could be done to re-unite Tambwali and Waziona?

Note: questions above are voluntary, such that you are not forced to answer all questions, you can answer one of them or give a general comment based on the story.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

A feminist in Malawi

Written by Roseanna Anderson

The drive into Nkhata Bay and discoveries hereafter:
Jacob and Tom leading the teams

My first sights of Africa were exactly as I had seen in the photos, yet that only made the experience more surreal. Winding dirt roads and women shrouded in vibrancy, balancing baskets or buckets on their heads. Children topless and running to wave at us or men walking along the dust path, boxed into suits in the blistering sun. The tarmac had crumbled at the edges, immediately met by the earth. No paths, just road -the cusp between bitten and irregular- an obstacle for the bikes forced to the edges. Nature has its way here: it is left to thrive. As we drive I notice the earth change colour: from the flat grey tone that brushed the land to this thick copper colour. The dust here is red too, similar to the dirty colour of drying blood. We know we are nearing the lake because we are hassled by more and more figures. They are shaking fish at our car. Some of them cooked, some just limp corpses, dangled by their lifeless fins. The water brings life, where there is life there is life there must also be death. This time, the death is of the fish.
Fish is central to Nkhata Bay’s economy. As volunteers here a lot of our time is spent around fishing families. Fish is seen on every dinner table and every roadside stall, cooked and murky brown. Seen fresh caught on every other stall- neat in shiny piles like curled up silver chains. The lucky ones can still be glimpsed darting in the Bay’s waters. Yet there remains one hidden transaction in the fish’s journey. Something seen as unspeakable but something that has to be discussed. It is our driver, who tells us of the women.

They wander out when night comes; husbands still hard asleep, dresses on, puckered up, waiting: for the fishermen. The deed is done anywhere they can find: in the reeds and in the dark. In exchange, she receives a lump sum of fish. Not cold cash but warm, wet fish. Something about this makes me curl my lips down and wince. It is the crudity of it; it seems somehow more exploitative. Somehow more desperate. Less of a choice. Less of a skill or a service being given, more like exchanging body for bodies. Woman for fish. It is the baseness of weighing out her worth, one by one. Somehow more objectifying. Yet the longer I think of it, the less so it seems. Is it not exactly the same as prostitution anywhere in the world? Fish is just another currency, and a vital one at that. These women are not being forced physically by anyone. Is it not their choice?

Yes, free will plays a part here. However, this particular transaction is truly a reflection of the opportunities open to males and their female counterparts. Men fish. Women sell whatever they can. Despite their relentless ingenuity-fighting for business on little market stalls-women here are still struggling. Despite all their strength, hacking into tough earth, barefoot, each heavy hit fast and precise, it still is not enough. Some farmers only grow food enough to feed themselves. Even this relies upon rainfall so people in poverty can be left with no options. Malawi is 39% below the poverty line and with no state benefits; people everywhere have to fight for an income. This is why, when contemplating the argument of consent, the conclusion must always be very different to that of England. Here, there is often no other option.
Children on bare foot down the hills of to the shore 

When I was first plunged into the culture of Malawi, it seemed as if I had gone back in time. To a time when women were explicitly told what to wear-unlike that facade of freedom that sneers behind backs. To a time where I am explicitly told not to travel alone, what dresses to wear, unlike the sly way ‘my fault’ is implied in the UK. To a time at least where there are more pressing problems to be disputed than dress code. Not that any feminist feat is any less important than another. Quite the opposite in fact: that they are all intertwined. Women are united in our struggles, however varied, because they all stem from the same strain of oppression.
Surprisingly, my behaviour was increasingly flexible to these patriarchal measures when I was the one facing shame for wearing anything above the knee. This fear of being judged or isolated from the crowd catalysed a powerful appreciation for the Suffragettes. Imprisoned and force fed-stripped of even their ability to choose suicide-for a vote that is so easily taken for granted. Their bravery astounded me. I could understand why the women here conformed because I was conforming too. In similar ways I conform at home: removing body hair (something that women are not expected to do here at all) or making sure I wear makeup for an interview. Despite all the differences, there are the same fights going on all over the world, if at different rates. And the more I thought about it, the more similar these two sides of the globe seemed to be.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Exploring the Relationship between the UK and Malawian ICS Volunteers

By - Mc Donald Chikusi

Work in progress- ICS Volunteers interacting with young people
It is so interesting to see how our Masomphenya team, based in Nkhata Bay is working hand in hand sharing ideas on culture, dressing, food, housing and language. Though the team is performing well together there are some challenges which the volunteers are facing.

One of the challenges is communication because there is an obvious language barrier. Some In-Country Volunteers are just learning how to speak English and UK Volunteers tend to speak fast. At the workshops, people in the community are not able to understand English so it means the local volunteers have to interpret.

To overcome the challenge of communication the UK volunteers are trying to speak slowly. Also, team language sessions are conducted every week help them get to know how to speak the local language for better communication with the communities.

Weather is another challenge faced by the Volunteers in the Masomphenya Team because we are located near the Lake which sometimes causes high rainfall, bringing some difficulties when walking to the office. However, the team members have managed to buy umbrellas to help keep them dry during rainfall.  The slippery mud is still an obstacle though!

On Religion and cultural beliefs we all accept our friend’s views and allow them to enjoy their right to expression by not forcing them to do things they don’t want to do. For example, many people in Malawi go to church on Sunday but in the UK there are many Atheists. This could have caused a clash in opinions. However, we all show an understanding and respect for each other’s different cultures and talking openly about our beliefs and opinions.

Another difference is family size. In the UK, having more children is expensive and to raise the child up to the
ICS Volunters conducting an SRH and R session with secondary
school students in Nkhata Bay district 
stage where he/she can be independent is difficult. On the other hand, in Malawi having more children is a source of income because they help in farming activities. Despite these differences in family size and culture we all still working together to achieve our goals.

'Masomphenya' means 'vision' and despite differences in skin colour, family norms, cultural beliefs and values, we are all working towards the same goal. We are all battling for a better educated youth on issues of Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights. We are all fighting issues of HIV and AIDS together for a better future for Malawi. It is this shared vision that drives us forward together as a team and allows us to accept each other’s differences.