day three of student’s sit in: the Malawi military police takes over the campus.

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Africa » Malawi » Northern » Mzuzu
June 16th 2010
Published: June 30th 2010
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this is a photo i took from my office while the police took over the campus
It was the third day of the students sit, and another day without classes. Before starting the work day, an intern, ‘Merrell’ and I decided to go to the teacher’s lounge to share a pot of coffee. On our way there we could hear the rally protest of the student’s sit in. After delicious Mzuzu coffee, I made my way to the bathroom and I heard a loud ‘bang’ coming from outside. Thinking to myself it was just part of the ruckus created by the rally I went on and continued to my office in the land management building. All of a sudden more loud ‘bangs’, I looked out the window and noticed troops of military police dressed in their camouflage and carrying large rifles. I soon realized the large ‘bang’ were gun shots. Just like the ants took over our house, the military was taking over the campus. Troops were searching every building and dorms for students. I pulled my camera and took a picture of the troops outside my window but then quickly hid it back in my case as I saw they were all heading towards my building (a very small three room department). Three officers entered our building demanding for students. From my office I could not see anything but herd only loud yelling, shoving and doors heavily slamming. I was already jittery from the half pot of coffee I drank about an hour earlier, but combined with the gun shots and commotion, my nerves were pretty well shot. The military exited our department , and Lucky our department head, walked into my office laughing about the troop’s behavior. For the next hour more gun shots were fired in the air, and peeking from my window I noticed a canister of tear gas going off not too far from our building. Luckily, the wind was blowing in the opposite direction because the tear gas would’ve seeped into our offices. Unfortunately, two other interns where walking towards the tear gas and got a little taste and cry from it.
Both interns mike and mike witnessed students being hustled by the officers, first hand cuffed, then roughly handled pacing up and down the street. Some student where kneeling at the feet of officers with their hands on their ears as the cops were shooting the ground beside them. From my office I noticed student being shoved into a vehicle and hit on the back by the officers. The officers then returned in our office to double check the presence of students, and repeated the yelling and commotion. Soon after, most of the troops left the area and a message from the administration ordered everyone off the campus as it was shutting down. Lucky decided to bring us to a delicious Indian restaurant and then on a scenic drive around the largest tree plantation in Africa to visit Malawi’s Department of forestry. We decided to explore a bit of the pine forest while lucky was in a meeting, being surrounded by such big trees made me think I was back in Canada.
When we arrived back at the campus it was reopened. The next day the campus ‘sit -in’ made the front page of the national news paper. 17 students were arrested that day for rioting and vandalism. Apparently they blocked the road which leads to the border of Tanzania and demanded money for passing through and they took down an already beat up bus shelter. According to the professors, these sit- ins have been occurring once every semester. They say this one was because of the lack of a printer and photocopier (eventually the Malawi president’s brother bought one for the student after the riot) I think the students just wanted a break to watch the world cup!


5th July 2010

Crazy!! The sit ins never got this bad while we were there! Is it bad though that the thing that caught my attention the most was that you ate at A-1?!! My god, I love that restaurant. No indian food has compared back here in Canada.

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