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Blogger's opinion about “Nsima” angers Malawians

A recent post on Malawi‘s staple food nsima has raised debate on how much freedom one can have in expressing themselves in blogs. The reactions by mostly Malawian readers have demonstrated that some restraint, responsibility and sensitivity is needed especially if one is writing about something that others may consider very dear to them.

The heated debate that has ensued in some Malawi's blogs and discussion forums followa female European blog post where she described Malawi's main staple food nsima as “the most disgusting and pointless food in the history of the world.”

Only identified as MissJenn-Malawi and working in Mulanje, Malawi, she had dozens of reactions when her story was spotted by two Malawian bloggers and then published on Nyasa Times.

She has since deleted the blog whose original post was copied by Cryton Chikoko. Meanwhile over 70 comments have been registered some calling for her immediate deportation.

Several bloggers made comments on this story while not writing about it on their blogs themselves. Joe Mlenga who blogs on said

The content I must say is distasteful…but I commend the posting of this write-up.

A female blogger Leah Gondwe said

I wonder if this woman is ok up there…was she thinking that we malawians wont see the article? To hell with being entitled to her own opinion… hope the police get hold of her ASAP before we angry Malawians break her bones, as her address and mobile number are posted on her blog.

While Sunga said

I think we should not bash the posting of the article. What is clear is the fact that she did not handle the shock of eating nsima with goat well. I have been around a few countries on the continent and got a few culcural shocks but did not express myself the way she did. There are better ways doing it and getting the message across. She scores pretty low on my diplomacy scale.

The reactions by Malawians to this post on nsima has also shown some Malawians also need to excercise restraint as some comments seem to go beyond mere expressing their feelings about their lovely food. This is the caution by this author on his blog ndagha where he wrote in reflection over the saga:

Some comments made by Malawians can also be said to have been and are equally offensive to the author. If indeed Malawians have been offended, it would have been fair to express that in a mature manner as doing as some of the comments only makes one fail to differentiate between the blogger and the one commenting.

In fact some of the comments were really showing that some people just found an opportunity to vent their anger on the azungu instead of simply registering your disgust at her way of writing. I am sure it is fair to say “I have been offended by what you have written” other than insulting the author. It is one thing to say how you feel about something and it is another to attack someone.

Nsima known by many different names in most Sub-Saharan countries is made from maize, cassava, etc, and eaten along with relish.

This is not the first time that visitors to Malawi especially from Europe and US tend to blog on some lifestyle or cultural things that offend some Malawians. The reactions to the nsima post has not only shown that gradually Malawians are reading blogs by others but also that some have been encouraged to create their won and express themselves.

2 comments

  • The reactions to the blog were quite personal indeed but just like most of the topics in Malawi, they are personalized. You only need to look at the topics in our newspapers or some of the titles on the famed Nyasanet. We have this knack to make things personal even when we do not need to be. Perhaps it’s a cultural thing. I don’t know but it sure can turn ugly…

  • John Carter

    Sort of like being offended by the taste and appearance of bread for no other reason than you never ate it while you were growing up.

    How many westerners eat dry bread without butter or spreads?

    I love Nsima with a spicy sauce.

    I love going into food stores catering to various ethnic groups and trying out random new things. A global adventure in my own backyard!

    Some I love! Some I don’t, but the fact is someone somewhere loves it or they wouldn’t have bothered to drag it around the world.

    Curiously enough a lot of European festive foods are boring staples dressed up in ritual and sanctified by tradition….

    …but in origin had more to do with food preservation and winter starvation than gourmet intent,,,,

    eg. Pancakes, christmas cake, sauerkraut, potato latkes….

    So what, I love sauerkraut anyway! :-)

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