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Twits and wits: Malawian bloggers on new technologies, nature, myths, Zimbabwe, and a hard work ethic

Since the last Malawi roundup, the Malawian blogosphere has continued to be abuzz with posts announcing new technologies, news on Internet-based radios, existing radio stations going online, stories about farming initiatives, as well as reflections on nature and Malawian places of mythical, if not mysterious, interest. There have also been entries on the situation in Zimbabwe, politics in Malawi, and the hard work ethic that Malawians espouse when outside the country, among numerous other topics. Here with it all:

Twitter and new technologies

Malawian blogger, Soyapi Mumba, writes about Twitter, a cutting edge technological innovation that enables users to update others on what they are doing at a particular moment. According to Soyapi, because of its adaptability between SMS function in cell phones, IM messaging, and webpages, twitter has a much greater potential in Africa, where there are much more cell phone users than Internet users:

So the launching of Twitter provides a good alternative considering that the use of mobile phones is much higher than that of computers. In Malawi for example, there are about 50,000 Internet users against about 700,000 mobile phone users out of a population of about 12 million. Twitter allows users to post a small update via SMS, instant messaging client and the web. Anyone who chooses to follow you will get that update on the Twitter home page, or their mobile phone of they choose to. Unlike most mobile phone web services, you can update via SMS from anywhere in the world and from virtually any handset.

And still on technology matters, Cryton Chikoko has issued a call for suggestions providing a name for what he terms an all Malawian Christian Music Internet Radio Station:

This is to solicit a name for an all Malawian music Internet Christian radio station. A motto will be a fantastic bonus. I will really appreciate an explanation for the choice of your name. There is no criteria for the name. Sorry that at this point there will be no rewards.

Jatropha, nature and mythical mysteries

Clement Nyirenda asks if there has been any progress in Malawi in the farming of Jatropha, a plant he says is an excellent substitute for tobacco due to its oil content, 50 year life-span, and fertilizer content, among many other unique attributes:

Nowadays, I get very excited when I hear news about the global anti-tobacco policies, although the masses in Malawi and other developing countries are not happy. In my case, I see this as an opportunity for Malawi to look into other useful crops to replace the destructive tobacco. Jatropha is said to be one of those dream crops. Jatropha is a perenial shrub suited to tropical climates with 50 years life span. It starts bearing seeds after two years of planting. Seeds with shell have an oil content of 32%-35%. This oil can be used for the production of biodiesel, soap, mosquito repellent, organic fertiliser etc.

And still on nature, blogger John writes on his blog Where Flames Burn the Brightest about myths that surround two natural sites in Malawi, Malawi’s highest mountain, Mulanje, and Mwala wa Nthunzi, a rock said to spew out steam. John talks about spirits that are said to haunt the highest peak of the mountain, Sapitwa, which translates into English as “Unsurmountable” or “Unreachable,” or “No go”. In 2003, a 29 year-old Dutch woman, Linda Plonk, left fellow climbers behind, somewhere up the mountain, and proceeded to the dreaded Sapitwa Peak, alone. Rescue teams from Malawi and from the Netherlands spent several weeks searching for her, but she was never found. On Mwala wa Nthunzi, John writes:

Mwala wa Nthuzi is one rock that has continued to puzzle me. Apparently the rock cant be removed from its original spot. When M1 [the main thoroughfare that runs the length of Malawi from south to north—Editor’s note] was being constructed, contractors would have the rock removed only to find it in its exact spot the following day. They tried removing it on multiple attempts but in spite of all their efforts the rock still returned to its spot. Today the rock is still there and the M1 just by its side.

In his other post, John writes about the English Football League and comments on the new coach for the Malawi national football (soccer) team:

FAM officially unveiled Constantine as Malawi national team coach. Good luck to the guy. Malawian fans can be really tough. They want results now. It is easy to understand. The flames haven't won anything in a very long time. He needs time to build up his team. A little patience and lets see what magic he can conjure for the flames.

Lifelong learning in Sweden; Zimbabwe crisis

Victor Kaonga, on his blog Ndagha, writes about visiting a community high school in Sweden, where he is currently studying for a postgraduate degree in global journalism. He opens his post with the mention of an 85-year old Kenyan who in 2003 made news around the world by enrolling in Standard 1 (first grade), following a government decree to remove primary school fees:

When I heard about the 85-year Kenyan pupil in September 2005, I marvelled and wondered how bold some people could be with education. The question I had was, ‘education for what?’ Since then my mind started changing as more and more I began realising education is there for life today's visit to Vasteros confirmed that. It is something that is and has to be open.

Kaonga, who for full disclosure purposes, is a Malawi author for Global Voices Online, also reproduces on his blog a feature article he wrote for The Sunday Times, a Malawian newspaper, and Nyasatimes, a Malawian Internet-based newspaper, on the increasing number of Malawian bloggers. Elsewhere on Ndagha, Victor comments on the current crisis in Zimbabwe, quoting friends who urge him not to take too seriously the desperation and hopelessness with which the media describes the country and its leader President Robert Mugabe. And in his most current post, Kaonga announces that TransWorld Africa Radio, which he works for when he is back home in Malawi, has just gone online:

Allow me to blow my own trumpet agreeing with a local saying ‘fumbi ndiwe mwini’ (if you keep quiet no one will tell the story).

I have just discovered this afternoon that the international radio network I am part of, has started providing an audio stream. This is the first time Trans World Radio Africa has done this after 33 years of terrestrial broadcasts on shortwave, medium, fm and satelite.

The stream coming off Johannesburg, South Africa means that some of its English programmes on satellite can now be accessed anywhere in the world. While I am part of a team in Malawi that transmits only on fm and shortwave, I am happy to see this development as it takes the regions network out put a step further.

Muluzi and Malawi politics; bank outrage

Discussion continues on the decision by former president Bakili Muluzi to run again for the presidency, for what would be a third term if he indeed runs and wins, after serving his two constitutional two terms already. Malawi Politics, a self-referenced blog on the same topic, comments on recent statements by one of Malawi’s Ngoni traditional leaders:

As evidenced Inkosi ya Makosi M’mbelwa IV have opened a can of worms with his remarks last week that former President Bakili Muluzi comeback is unreasonable because he failed to develop this country during the 10 years he was in power. As United Democratic Front (UDF) spokesperson Sam Mpasu said on Monday the Ngoni chief was only trying to play good boy to President Bingu WA Mutharika when he made the remarks and as such UDF does not want to be personal to the chief.

On banking in Malawi, Austin Madinga writes about an experience he had when he wanted a loan, and his employer suggested a bank other than his own. He describes the long delays he suffered at every turn:

Recently I had wanted to get a loan and decided to take it through my bank as usual but my employer would not provide the letter of undertaking because she thought I better take it through another bank my employer has an account with. After much resistance I went to get the loan there and within a few minutes I had the cash in hand but this was after I had to open an account. Fair deal!

Malawians’ work ethic; arbitrating a teen pregnancy case

M’Malawi ku Theba comments on how dedicated Malawians in the Diaspora are to hard work, saying if they showed the same spirit back home, Malawi would be better off than it is today:

Ndagwirapo ntchito ndi anthu ochokera mmayiko ena koma sangafikepo mmene mmalawi amagwirira ntchito, Kutheba kuno amalawi timakumbukira umphawi wakumudzi, pamene mmalawi akugwira ntchito pamakhala luntha ndi kudzipereka. Ndipo nthawi zina ndi madzifunsa kuti magwiridwe a ntchito amenewa tinakakhala kuti ku mudzi kujanso timatero bwenzi pano tiri pena.

I have worked with people from other countries, but they do not get anywhere near a Malawian in his/her work ethic. Here in the Diaspora many of us Malawians are reminded of the poverty back home, and where you find a Malawian working, he/she exhibits talent and dedication. And sometimes I ask myself how if we showed this same dedication back home we would be much better off by now.

Meanwhile M’Malawi ku Theba has announced that he is taking a break from blogging while he goes back to Malawi for a while, to arbitrate in a domestic issue in which his niece has been made pregnant out of wedlock:

Mmalawikutheba wayamba wapita kumudzi kukamba milandu. Mdzukulu wanga amupatsa pakati(mimba) ndiye ngati ine ankolo a mwana ndikuyenekera kuti ndikamve kuti zinakhala bwanji, Anthu akulu akulu anafa ifa kumudziku ndi matenda aja amasikuwanowa ndiye munthu wamkulu ndidatsala ndekha, ndiye nanga ndikutani? Ndikuyenekera kupita.

M’Malawi kuTheba has had to temporarily return home to arbitrate in a case. My niece has been made pregnant and I, as the girl’s uncle, have to go and find out how it all happened. All the elderly people have since passed on with the disease we all know of and I am the only elder remaining, so what else can I do? I have to go.

1 comment

  • Rodgers mutchayasimbi kawonga

    well its something to be cherished seeing most Malawians to be honoured by top institutions across the sphere.keep up the good work

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