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Malawian Musings: Diaspora, Internet-based Radio, Nigerian Movies, Stray Dogs, Silicon Valley dreams, and Muluzi’s comeback

The Malawian blogosphere has been abuzz with news of Malawian initiatives involving radio broadcasting and the Internet; Malawians in the diaspora; personal narratives about dislikes, trips and city issues; and the political comeback of former President Muluzi who is said to be planning a return to contest for another term after the constitutional termination of his two earlier terms as president.

Radio program and Internet radio for Malawians in the Diaspora

Victor Kaonga, a Malawian radio broadcaster studying in Sweden, writes on his blog Ndagha about a new radio program he has initiated, called AMalawi Kunja kwa Malawi (Malawians in Diaspora) aired on TransWorld Radio. The program, launched on January 10, 2007, follows a successful Christmas special which had initially been slated for 30 minutes, but ended up running to 90 minutes. Victor writes:

The programme is a platform to let Malawians in diaspora share with listeners in Malawi something about their lives, their work, studies, stay and the countries they are living in. Malawians abroad are interviewed to share personal experiences as well official positions on issues that affect them where they are and at home.

Victor continues to share news about a new Internet-based radio for Malawi, the second one in six months.

It is now amazing to me how though slowly Malawians are utilizing the Internet for radio. It was only last year in August that the first internet radio ran by a Malawian started broadcasting. Radio Yako made news and still is considered the pioneer. Another internet radio Kwacha FM has just started doing a similar thing. I hope no one will raise questions at the names! I am wondering a bit about the “fm” extension! I would say to both kongilachuleshoni!

Elsewhere on his blog, Victor wonders aloud about the killing that goes on in the world, Malawi’s first Internet radio, RadioYako.com going live, and describes how he keeps in touch with friends and family for healthy relationships.

Late blogger would have been 26 this week

Another Malawian blogger, Nyumbazi, reminds us on her blog Mangaliso’s World 2, a blog dedicated to Mangaliso Jere, the Malawian blogger who passed away on January 18th this year, that this week would have been the 26th birthday for the late Mangaliso:

Today since the 1st March 1981, we annually celebrate my small brother’s birthday Mangaliso Robert Samuel Jere (aka Mangaman). Though on a sad note this year due your sudden and tragic death. Any way in the meantime I call out your name with pride, you are the Captain of the Ndinda’s as clearly shown by your intelligence and skills, not only steering us to what we are today both economically and intellectually.

Are dreadlocks Malawian? and a booming Malawian cyberspace

The one Malawian blogger who blogs mostly in Chichewa mixed with some English, M’Malawi KuTheba, based in an unnamed part of the Malawian diaspora, is forced to pose a question as to whether Malawians have a culture they can call Malawian. The blogger is forced to ask the question upon seeing a colleague whom he/she considers highly mannered and religious, sporting dreadlocks, in a foreign land:

Funsoli ndikufunsa chifukwa chakuti sabata yapitayi ndinali ku tchalitchi ya chimalawi, ndiye kumeneko ndinakumanako ndi “m'bale(brother in christ) yemwe kumudziku anali mkulu wampingo, ndiponso anali bwana ndithu komwe amagwira ntchito. Koma nditamuona “m'baleyu” ndi zomwe anapanga tsitsi lake I could not believe what i was seeing, “m'bale” ali muma dreadrocks.

I’m asking this question because this past week while attending a Malawian church, I met a brother in Christ who back home used to be a church elder, and also a big boss at his place of work. Upon seeing this “brother” and what he had done to his hair, I could not believe what I was seeing, a “brother” in dreadlocks.

In another posting M’Malawi waku Theba comments upon the common practice by Malawians to copy each other’s ideas for commercial businesses, leading to the proliferation of local telephone bureaus, businesses selling doughnuts, second hand clothes, etc. The blogger sees the same trending happening with the Internet in Malawi:

Ndiyetu pa internet pano ndayamba kuziwona, meetmalawi, emalawi, Portlait, nyasa times, Daily News, Nation online ndi Daily times online. Kwaife ofuna kuwerenga nkhani zakumudzi ayi zabwinobwino. Ngakhale masaitiwo atafika mazana mazana!

Now I am also seeing this trend on the Internet, meetmalawi, emalawi, Portlait [portraitmalawi], Daily News, Nation Online and Daily Times Online. For those of us thirsting to read news from home, this is all very well. Even if we end up with thousands and thousands of websites!

Music at an early age

Meanwhile, Cryton Chikoko, currently working and studying in Britain with his wife, and very actively involved in their local church there, admires how British children learn how to play musical instruments from a very young age, adding that musical instruments in Malawi are too expensive and unaffordable by most Malawian parents:

Back to the English: what I learned later is that English kids are obliged to learn one music instrument or sporting activity during their secondary education. All this is to prepare the funny loving Brits to enjoy life to the full when old. Fantastic! I wish that was the case home. I was also informed that playing music instruments helps children to learn to focus. Their mental ability get enhanced. Their brains get sharpened spilling the benefits to their studies. Of course to learn how to play a guitar, drums or keyboard for school kids is unthinkable in Malawi. The fact is that most of our children in Malawi even to be alive is a miracle. There is untold deprivation in our community so much that to think of buying music instruments is total madness. I have my private dreams on that.

Nigerian movies and Lilongwe's stray dogs

At the just ended African Film Festival in Burkina Faso, a Nigerian movie, Ezra, won the top prize. This news probably doesn’t excite Austin Mandinga’s Big Mouth, who uses a recollection of a road trip he took two years ago from Malawi to South Africa to express his displeasure with Nigerian movies:

Now am not one to watch a west african movie but the view of the dense thicket outside the window was not that exciting either. Coupled with all the shouting and screaming associated with Naija movies, I was forced to watch. Now check this out, the Mozambique stretch is some 3 – 4 hours and I tell you the movie dragged through all this time until we got to the Zimbabwe border where the film seemed to end. After the border formalities we left and guess what? The hostess slotted in a movie conveniently titled Billionaire's Club Part 2!!! SOMEONE PLEASE SHOOT ME!!!!

In another posting Madinga writes about how stray dogs in Malawi’s capital city Lilongwe have become a nuisance, observing that it has been almost a decade since he last heard once common radio announcements that used to alert the public about veterinary officials who went around shooting stray dogs. He believes the veterinary department no longer does this, as evidenced by the increasing numbers of stray dogs nowadays:

They are everywhere in large numbers too. They will either be a large group following a female dog. Or they will be fighting and chasing each other. The other day I found one taking a crap right in the middle of the road!! How cheeky!! He was bloody lucky my car does not have a bullbar, I would have knocked some sense into him.

Former Malawi president poised for comeback

The current top political story in Malawi at the moment is the news that potential contenders for the presidential candidacy of the United Democratic Front, for the 2009 elections, are standing aside and pulling out of contention in order to accommodate a possible comeback for former president Dr. Bakili Muluzi. Muluzi served as Malawi’s president for two terms between 1994 and 2004, before campaigning for Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika, the current president. However soon after being sworn in, Mutharika turned against his benefactor, Muluzi, and today the two are at loggerheads. Malawian newspapers as well as the Malawian cyberspace is awash with discussion of whether the Malawi constitution allows a president who has served two consecutive terms, to return and stand again for the presidency, as Muluzi, popularly known as Atcheya (The Chairperson) is said to be planning to do. Blogger Isaac Cheke Ziba, based in Scotland, makes clear his opposition to the move:

[L]et me make it clear that I am one of those who think and deeply so that a comeback of Atcheya onto the Presidency in Malawi is not, not even in the least sense, a good thing for the country…I can not think of anything positive that is motivating the “UDF's grassroots” into drafting Atcheya again, an idea Atcheya seems to be buying into… The idea, Ambuje, is to push home the fact that the Law is double edged.

Malawian blogger ends visit to Bay Area, USA

And finally, Malawian blogger Soyapi Mumba has been so enjoying himself at the 2007 summit for Non-profit Software development, in the Bay Area, San Fransisco, USA, that he hasn’t even noticed that he has failed to visit his dream places around Silicon Valley, just two hours away:

I never thought I would be in the Bay Area, which is within 2 hours from the Silicon Valley, for almost one full week without seeing my number one tourist destinations: the Googleplex and Yahoo offices. Ooh, and if time permits Live.com offices.

But somehow I did and it was worth it.

5 comments

  • Malawian Musings: Diaspora, Internet-based Radio, Nigerian Movies, Stray Dogs, Silicon Valley dreams, and Muluzi%u2019s comeback…

    The Malawian blogosphere has been abuzz with news of Malawian initiatives involving radio broadcasting and the Internet; Malawians in the diaspora; personal narratives about dislikes, trips and city is…

  • Thanks Steve and the Global Voices Online for covering my posts including this one about my trip to the US.

    However, I want to point out that although I did not visit Yahoo and Google in my first week in the Bay Area, I visited both companies in my second week.

    I’ve just posted about my visit to Yahoo on my blog: http://soyapi.blogspot.com/2007/03/visit-to-yahoo-hq.html

    A post about my visit to Google is on its way.

  • Christina Marquardt

    I found this internet site by google, because I had a dream where the word “wampingo” was repeated several times and I don’t know what it means. If someone, anyone, could tell me what the definition is, I would appreciate it. I also had “kwa anai” repeated to me a lot when I was much younger, just got stuck in my head. I would appreciate a translation for that too.

  • Christina,
    “Wampingo” is a Chichewa term for someone that belongs to the church or religion. And “kwa anai” is also Chichewa but standing for something like four times or for four people. Sorry for the late response.

  • Thoko Mangazi

    I was very much impressed with the way Malawians are doing out there. At least we are proud that Malawi can do better everwhere. Back here at home, almost everyone thinks that Malwians are struggling abroad. Now lets try to think another way that we can reach out to all the Malawians coz internet is 3% accessible in Malawi. This can encourage people to work hard. All the best guys

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