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Africa » Malawi
June 5th 2010
Published: June 5th 2010
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I though as one of my last blog entries I would remember my time in Malawi by some of the main news stories that have been in the National newspaper during my time. The names, fact’s, and details taken from the National Newspaper.

This story was probably slightly before I arrived, it is the story of a man breaking into a house in Ndirande and attempting to kill two young women while wearing nothing but underwear (thus nachiPANTI). The first I heard about it was when Jack Bandwe was arrested for the murders. He was convicted in May of burglary and grievous bodily harm after his confession. He also had suspected accomplices Towera Chisa, her son Kelvin, Alimuswe Munde and Noel Numelo, who were all acquitted.

Aunt Tiwo
This is the story of two openly homosexual men, Tiwonge Chibalanga and Stephen Monjeza, who were arrested after trying to marry and living together for 5 months previously. This sparked a debate on homosexuality in general; it was the first ever gay trial in Malawi. They were found guilty of buggery and gross indecency on 19th May and sentenced to 14 years hard labor two days after. They were granted a presidential pardon in the face of mounting international criticism.

Africa Cup of Nations
Obviously a big story in a continent as into football as Africa is, especially with the World Cup in South Africa this year. Though Malawi had early success defeating Angola 3-1, they didn’t manage to make it out of the group stages. Egypt eventually won in a 1-0 final against Ghana.

Fuel shortage
Around Christmas and New Year, supplies of diesel, petrol and paraffin were cut off, because of debts not being paid. This caused massive disruption as any business dependent on transport were severely limited if not completely shut down. Road’s were cut off as ques of cars surrounded any petrol station with fuel. We had to wait nearly 3 hours for diesel for the St John helix, though I spoke to some lorry drivers that had been waiting in line all day.

New Flag
In February a new design for the national flag was unveiled, basically the same except the red rising sun in the red top third of the old flag, representing the dawn of freedom and hope for Africa, was replaced by a white full sun in the middle of the black third with rays shining out. A debate was sparked on whether Malawi could justify the full sun when it was still far from being fully developed despite several good years of economic and social growth. In early March a small order was placed for the flags.

Bingu becomes AU president
In May Malawi’s president, Dr. Bingu Wa Mutharika, won the election for the African Union presidency. He was elected from his counterparts from across the continent at the elections in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. He beat off opposition from the Libyan leader Muamar Gaddafi who was trying to extend his term. The term lasts for one year and rotates around the African leaders.

Bingu weds Callista
The state president Dr Bingu Wa Mutharika got married to Callista Chapola Chimombo, a former member of parliament and cabinet minister. Engaged on Valentine’s Day, the wedding ceremony was supposed to be on Labor Day (May 1st), but was moved forward to 16th April due to presidential commitments.

Vendors selling ARV’s
Two vendors, Mathias Banda and Stenala Chikapa, were arrested after selling the anti-retrovirus drugs (ARV’s) used for treating HIV/AIDS, in the Blantyre townships of Ndirande and Mbayani. The two were fined K50,000 and K15,000 respectively after being given a choice between a fine and hard labor. The ARV bottles were being sold for K500 each (about £2).

Juju used in politics
Juju, traditional magic, is being used by politician to help them win favor with their constituents, give them help with elections and (in some cases) to give bad luck to opposition. This can be in the form of charms or powders eaten or worn, or acts such as being ‘cooked’ in pots, sleeping in coffins or running around naked. The former speaker of parliament was arrested for trespassing in a graveyard with a witchdoctor is the only documented case of politicians using juju, but it is widely said that most office holders visit witchdoctors especially during election times.


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