By Richard Chilango
The sweltering heat had every lad in the crowd perspiring profusely. The grouping comprised of people from all walks of life. Everyone was determined to showcase a martyr’s spirit. As we all know, nothing surpasses the joy of a child whose freedom and rights are being fully exercised. The same was the case with primary school learners from Nkhata Bay on this particular day. They paraded in front of the audience that graced commemoration day of the African child which was held under the theme; “accelerating, protecting, empowerment and equal opportunities to children in Malawi”.
Like graphical scenes in Sarafina movie, the students were waving placards and banners. At short intervals you would see them shouting all we want is a conducive learning atmosphere. The girls were ululating with purpose all just to energize the boys whose morale had already passed with undoubted distinction.
With a close up look, one would be rest assured that the young scholars were parading in good faith and not malice. They carried banners that could catalyze positive change. One of the banners read; “I have the right to education”, the other banner said “I have the right to education just like boys do”, then another banner read “education; a tool for building a better tomorrow”.
But what aroused my interest was the banner which found solace in the hands of a girl, those who knew children would have judged her to be thirteen or so. The banner read “RIP male chauvinism as I await your tombstone unveiling”.
Looking at the audience, I could sense the wagging tongues. It was hard to comprehend for some of the antagonist who were angered by the banner were women and some yet to be civic educated male fraternity. Then I caught the sight of a man picking up a stone with purpose, as he started walking towards the direction of the girl carrying the amazing banner. I couldn’t help but follow him in case he wanted to hit the girl.
I reached him in no time, I asked the man what he meant to do with the stone. He responded with the look of mind your business my friend and proceeded.
I don’t wish to be rude, but I will allow you peace only if you make known the use of that stone in your hand. I addressed my arrogant antagonist.
“I will do that if I am your brother or son,” he responded in anger.
The parade went well until the master of ceremony allowed room of other activities that had been planned to add color to the event. I was deeply immersed in a conversation with the man carrying a stone, I decided to do so the moment I realized arguing wouldn’t help matters but fuel anger in my protagonist.
The man told me that he wanted to hit the girl because she carried a banner that depicted contempt to men. I did not waste time but reason with the man that everyone has the freedom of thought and expression provided it’s not infringing the rights of others, and in this scenario the girls hasn’t violated anyone’s rights. I continued to say that the girl only carried such banner simply to communicate that girls are also key to the development of a country and the world at large.
He nodded in agreement to what I was saying and thanked me in appreciation of a schooling session well delivered.
Finally, I was accorded an audience with the young girl at the end of the commemoration activities. The young girl testified that there was a time when things were not moving for her, up until a mentor from YONECO tipped her to get up and fight Gender Based Violence (GBV).