Friday, August 21, 2009


To them that’s how life is like. There is nothing they can do to change their present situation. Life to them means struggling to find basic needs. They just came to accept this fact. Every five years they vote for people who they hope will bring change, but nothing changes. Who cares?

Every morning they wake up from their sleeping mats to be greeted by the sight of their poorly dressed and hunger stricken children. At times one meal per day strategically prepared to cover all the three meals does the trick. Not that they are too busy to eat but availability of food to be prepared thrice.

Farming, yes, the God given talent is all there is to give them the much needed food. But with the prices of fertilizer that they cannot afford, they harvest very little from a large piece of land. Subsidies are there but they target a few people who have connections.

Who cares what they dress? As long as they cover their nakedness, fashion to them means nothing. There is no money to buy the latest Pierre Cardin suit. Freely they walk in tatters and some second hand clothes sold cheaply at various trading centres.

Education, yes their kids need to be educated. Thank God primary school is free, but that’s where it ends. Secondary schools have become very expensive for them. To buy uniform, pay fees, and buy other needed resources for learning is a big burden to them. Even those that are lucky to have finished their secondary school are still expecting to be fed by them. Who is going to give them a job? Forget about college. It’s a luxury very few can afford.

This is what life means to them. Days turn to months and months to years with little changes. Only governments change but sufferring remains. Young men turn to fathers at a tender age catching the virus in the process. Girls as young as 15 become wives and mothers. Children suffer from malnutrition and other related diseases.

On paper, policies, strategies and goals are made but very little impacts the poor masses. They continue suffering every day of their lives. There is no better explanation to this kind of life. Who is wrong or what should be done to change this? Poverty is here to stay if nobody cares for these fellow country men.

Pictures taken by Caitriona Rogerson and Natasha Fitzpatrick in Blantyre, Malawi

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I could have written of the by-elections that the ruling party in Malawi lost. Yes I could have said of how a seat previously held by the Veep of the country was lost to an independent candidate. I mean if I came close to this blog, I could not have resisted the temptation of informing you how a party which won the elections with an overwhelming majority a few months ago failed to convince people from two important constituencies.

Only that I was busy doing some other things. This also prevented me of telling the end of the ‘resurrected man’ saga. I wanted to write of how the Police ended up arresting the witch doctor and the ‘resurrected man’s mother. People of a village in Nsanje identified Moses Levison as a madman from their village and not the ‘resurrected person” as we were made to believe. Since I was busy,I failed to tell you that he has since been sent to the Mental hospital in Zomba.


I could have written of an incident in Bangwe which prompted residents to turn violent for the second time in less than a month. I could have said of the Mozambican who made a mistake of performing a ritual at the same place another person was beaten by angry residents. His car and that of a sympathiser were smashed to pieces by these people believing that he is behind the various road accidents.

I really wanted to write of the recent bill that the Malawi Parliament passed and has prompted debate and accusations from various quarters. The Marriage bill which was passed in two hours has ‘improved’ the recommended age for girls to be married from 15 yrs to 16 yrs and with consent from parents. Of the over 190 Parliamentarians only one had the guts to vote against the bill.

I was very busy in the past week that I failed to write of the reactions from the civil society organisations, chiefs and many other NGO’s on this bill dubbed, Chidyamakanda bill. The last time we had this kind of reaction was when Madonna wanted to adopt Mercy James. Every NGO, registered or not, active or passive, issued a press release, statement or wrote a petition against Madonna.

Time prevented me from telling you of the Chiefs who are granted interviews by various radio stations and newspapers to speak against the marriage bill when they have lots of girls in their villages who are married and are as young as 15 years.


I could have informed you that there is still no progress in cotton prices saga. It seems farmers should forget of selling their cotton at the government set price. Time is running out and buyers are not relenting and some are buying cotton at a very cheap price. And nobody seems to care whether the farmers are benefitting or not.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


After I had wrote my secondary school examinations I worked on part time basis with several cotton buying companies. In Bangula Ginnery I worked with Great Lakes Company as a Tally Clerk and later with Iponga Cotton Company at Zalewa and Salima Ginneries.

I happen to have lots of friends who are still working in the cotton sector, from buying supervisors to the cotton farmers themselves. The fact that this year’s cotton buying season is faced with a lot of problems due to the disagreements between the Malawi government and the Cotton buyers over price means that a lot of people are suffering. This includes my best friends in all the places I worked no wonder am taking it personal.

The season was supposed to officially start the end of March but up to now it is yet to start. Already reports indicate that one of the buyers, Cargill Malawi has issued a press release that it will not buy cotton this year unless government allows it to buy at MK42 instead of the MK75 that the government set. This means that a lot of people who worked for Cargill Malawi will be left in the cold including farmers who were given loans.

In Balaka, angry farmers petitioned the District Commissioner to intervene in the situation that some companies are buying cotton at night and at very cheap prices. This just shows how serious the issue of this cotton season is. Farmers all over the country are frustrated at the turn of events when they expected to benefit from their hard work.

A friend in Bangula told me how they are fairing without Great Lakes and Cargill buying cotton. Every one in the Lower Shire relies on cotton to some extent and this has left them in an awkward position. Most of the people grow cotton instead of maize and buys the staple food after selling their cotton. Young people were supposed to be in the field buying cotton while some were supposed to be at the ginnery tallying some figures. Others work as machine operators, ginners and mechanics in the ginnery and got used to life in this way.

Cotton is one of the major foreign earners in Malawi apart from tobacco and tea. But unlike tobacco, cotton is very delicate and cannot stay for a long time without losing quality and weight. Therefore even if they start buying now at whatever price they will agree a lot has already been lost and the spirit of the farmers has been bruised no wonder very few will grow cotton next season. I feel sorry for my friends in Nsanje, Chikwawa, Zalewa, Balaka and Salima.


Over the weekend I had time to visit a local hospital, Muloza Health Centre, not that I was sick or knew someone who was sick, but just thought of visiting the place. I was shocked to see the conditions of some patients who have been admitted at the hospital.

I nearly shed tears to see how people are fairing in this part of the country while we are busy living our day to day lives unconcerned with what is happening to them. They were some who are very sick and have no guardians to take care of them, some have guardians but have no food and rely on the hospital ration which is very small and of poor quality.

It is obvious that some people might get diseases in the hospital other than the ones that they came to be treated for. Its really a very sorry situation that these fellow human beings are going through.

In view of these I have decided to adopt several patients, one at a time ( not the Madonna type of adoption). I will be taking care of a patient who has no guardian until he is discharged from the hospital. I will be bringing basic needs to them and will go to another one once they are discharged. I hope this way will help some of these patients who need help from us more than an ever.

God help me to utilise the little resources I get to help these fellow countrymen who will help develop the nation once they get back to the normal way of living. A sick person cannot work therefore he cannot help his family.


He visited Malawi and thought of climbing Mulanje Mountain where he got lost on 17th July 2009 and was found dead on 5th August.

Gabriel Buchmann was on a mission to Asia and Africa.He traveled to 28 countries and Malawi was his last country to visit before going back to Brazil on 28th July. He was an Economist/ Humanitarian studying effects of poverty around the world. He had a BA in International Relations and Economics, he pursued an MA in Economics at PUC University in Rio de Janeiro. He had been awarded with a Fulbright scholarship and was to start a PHD in Public Policy at UCLA in September.

Here is how his best friend Pedro Hemsley described him at the start of a rescue mission:

A quick comment on the guy. Gabriel is an economist who studies poverty. He traveled many times to get to know people who live under adverse conditions – unlike most economists, who stick to the figures. He worked with public policy for poverty (you may guess how ineffective it is in most of the world) and will start his PhD in September at the University of California to go on researching and working on poverty. He decided to take a one-year trip in Asia and Africa to live with people, to see actual people in real situations, before going back into the books. He wasn’t a typical tourist at all. He didn’t sleep in hotels, but found accommodation with locals.

He hunted and fished with them.

He took part in their rituals.

This is who we are looking for.

Before coming to Malawi Gabriel had been to Kenya and Uganda. Here is one of the last emails he sent to his relatives on 1st June 2009:

“Dearest mom, girlfriend and João, my top partners in this backpacking trip, my dearest little sister, After more than a week of a full-on experience into the heart of Africa . I’ve found this cybercafe in Jinha, countryside of Uganda, just in front of river Nile…to I write you to say that I am truly overwhelmed and life is wonderfully good! My days in Africa have been absolutely fantastic!!! After spending a few days in the house of a refugee from Congo in Nairobi, don’t ask me how I ended up in the remote village of the masais in Kenya, where I spent days running after giraffes, zebras, and antelopes carrying on a spade and arrow. I was having a truly tribal experience, sleeping in these people houses and all that….oh, and among many adventures in Kenya, I ended in style. I did a bike safari with my masai friend in a stunning national park… So I’m pretty roots here, walking for a week wrapped up in one of those colorful pieces of fabric, carrying on a stick of wood and steal spade…all I know is that since I’ve arrived in Africa I haven’t seen ANY muzumgo (white man), besides myself…

Oh, by the way, in the middle of all that today I sent a child to school!!! It’s a long story, but to keep it simple, after spending a whole day walking around a small village in Uganda with a boy that, among other things, introduced me to his family, which lives in totally misery, and then for coincidence I went visiting this public school and was talking to the director, so I decided I would pay the enrollment fee and all the expenses so that this boy could go to school until the end of the year…

The best about being in Africa is that only here I can travel the way I’ve always dreamt. Today for the second time I stayed at a hostel since I arrived in this continent, all other days I stayed and had meals with the locals, spending less than 3 dollars a day, which allowed me to distribute the rest of my daily allowance among those who helped me along the way by feeding me or by receiving me in their homes. I am overwhelmed to live such adventure …making a real journey into the heart of Africa, a totally non-touristy one, in a sustainable way, being able to help a few Africans on the way…here with almost nothing you can make a huge difference in people’s lives…for instance with only 12 dollars I paid my friend’s rent in Congo for the whole month. With only 40 dollars I paid for one year of such a cool school for this other boy……”

Gabriel's body returned to Brazil in Rio where it will be cremated at Mortuary Pax River after a wake in the chapel of Memorial of Caramel in Caju starting from Monday 10th August to Tuesday 11th August.

May his soul rest in peace!!!

Sunday, August 2, 2009


The past three weeks have seen lots of stories about witchcraft making it to the front pages of the local dairies. From here in Mulanje where Agness Musolo delivered a 'stone' to Blantyre where a dead man 'resurrected' through Chileka where a man 'locked' his wife's private parts.

Various commentators have voiced out their views on all these strange happenings which have even prompted reputable geologists, psychologists,and specialist doctors in various fields to conduct experiments.

We all know that witchcraft exists and it is widely practiced in Malawi and many parts of the world (don't ask me how i came to this conclusion). But to find that all of a sudden these news are making headlines and are receiving positive comments keeps one wondering as to whether Malawians are becoming more superstitious.

A lot of property was damaged and people were injured in Bangwe because of chicken believed to be behind the road accidents (superstition). This is no simple matter and is likely to happen another day at another place where lots of accidents happen. A few days later a girl was thrown out on a witchcraft plane in the same area, Bangwe. In Mulanje everyone believes that the spirits in the mountain are behind the disappearance of Gabriel Bushman. From the village headman to those who organised the rescue operation all believe that the spirits are behind this. (More superstition).

The man who 'resurrected' in Blantyre is happily coming back to terms with his family after spending 6 months in the 'grave'. Instead of the authorities who are responsible for our health, safety and welfare, the 'resurrected man', Moses Levison is in the protection of a witch doctor (so these doctors are witches!!) More superstition.

When the scientists concluded that Agness Musolo did not give birth to the 'stone' but rather inserted it to the birth passage, more voices were against these finding choosing to believe the work of magic. (Superstition) I thought these are respected, learned professionals who are supposed to guide us in issues they know better than us.

Some thing ought to be done fast before we are all brainwashed to believe in witchcraft. I don't know what has to be done to deal with this (is it to adopt the witchcraft law or invest more time in prayer).


In the past i used to like my portable shortwave and FM radio or used to be on TV simply because i wanted to follow current events. I shifted my attention to the PC until i recently fell in love with Nokia 6070.

When am not reading a Clive Cussler or Tom Clancy novel, then am on a PC browsing some stuff or reading an e-book if not, my Nokia 6070 fills the gap. It has everything i need to satisfy me 24 hours. (My friends are already complaining that am no longer a good company!!)

I set my home page to the iGoogle with my gmail inbox on the top of BBC News, Top Stories (from New York Times, Chicago Tribune,etc), Quotes and Jokes of the day. I don't have to go along way to check my mail which i do every hour. I also have bookmarked over 20 sites which am supposed to check every now and then including, Anannova, Goal, Timve Mag, Malawi World Cup blog, News24, Blue Pulse, Nyasa Times and CNN

My applications folder is full of downloaded stuff that also require my undivided attention. There is a pocket bible which am supposed to read daily, Wattpad (i use it to read books online or offline), Snaptu, words of wisdom, Queep, and Operamini. I don't have space to keep latest music or videos i download them to the PC.

In opera Mini where i spend most of the time, i bookmarked Zain Malawi Web2SMS (for 10 free texts everyday since i have two Sim cards), Facebook Mobile, Flickr (for uploading photos taken by my 6070) Twitpic ( for sharing latest pictures on Twitter), Blogger dashboard (for editing my blog posts, Twitter (for real time updates), Malawi Daily Times and Google Reader.

For the latest current affairs all over the world i subscribed to many RSS Feeds which i read in Google Reader. I get to know events in real time because of these RSS Feeds which include, Reuters, CNN, Stories on Malawi, Clement Nyirenda's blog world , Mashable and Killer Start Ups (for the latest technology news). I also follow most of the media companies on Twitter where they update latest news in real time(pity there is no Malawian media to follow).

The only time i spend on PC is when am updating my blog, checking out some big stuff or pictures of friends on Facebook ( i update my status using Selective Twitter or on Snaptu or even through the Faceebook bookmark on Opera Mini), When i want to download some files or subscribe to RSS Feeds of some websites. I also have time to check news about Malawi from Mablog Blogging Malawi but mainly rely on the many blogs that i subscribed to. I also created a Google alert for Malawi news which sends me an email everytime news about Malawi is written.

Talk of Blackberry, iphone, smartphone or what, my Nokia 6070 is giving me a 24 hour access to global issues. And to access all these i use a reasonable amount of airtime from both Zain Malawi and TNM. Long live Nokia 6070 !!!!