Monday, October 19, 2009

A Sunday in Muloza

It is a market day in Muloza, a small trading centre in Mulanje District. Scores of people have defied the weather to come to the market to sell and buy various things. Traders from as far as Mozambique , Phalombe and Thyolo, they have come to be part of this weekly activity.

Muloza is one of the many border points that takes one to and from the vast country of Mozambique. Situated over 120Km away from the commercial city of Blantyre, Muloza is one of the closest borders to town.

Various things are sold on this day but it is the number of people that captured my interest. A good number of them comes from Milange area (popularly known as Villa) in Mozambique. An arrangement between the Malawi Immigration Department and the Mozambican Immigracao gave room to the inflow of people into both countries without problems.

Nothing can stand on the way for this day. It is still as busy as every Sunday regardless of which time of the month it falls. Even churches that congregate on this day knows better. They restrict their services to the three morning hours of 6 to 9. From then everyone gets ready for the market day.

From the border post to the market place, called Limbuli, one has to use bicycle taxis which are readily available at a wave of the hand. Specifically designed to give comfort to the customer, the bicycles cruise past scores of people who have opted to walk on foot. A 2.5 Km trip is done in less than twenty minutes on a bicycle taxi costing as low as K50.

At the marketplace, there are people everywhere and you are slowed down by them. Various goods are displayed in stalls, on the ground, in hawkers, while some are carried by people moving from one place to another.

Ranging from clothes, shoes, farm produce, and bicycle spares you can get almost everything you need for the home at Limbuli on Sunday. It matters less whether you are using Malawian Kwacha or Mozambican Meticals, money changes hands very fast.

Those coming from Blantyre are dropped right at the thick of things. On the stage there are various goods being sold to the passengers disembarking from the minibuses. A vendor clings to you trying to convince you to buy a thing you have not planned to buy. He follows you lowering the prices for you even before you utter a word.

A walk through the stalls gives you chance to sample out the goods. But you can also see through the people what this means to them. To some this is the only way to find basic needs in life. They are waiting for a few they will make from these sales to buy their necessities.

One thing i observed on this Sunday is that almost everyone benefits. From the bicycle taxis operators, the traders, the minibus operators to the porters, they all have something to take home. Whether it is enough or not they seem not to care but go home when darkness creeps in to prepare for the next Sunday.

Tread carefully on Quota System

For some reasons i have chosen not to take sides in the ongoing debate on Equitable Access to Education or quota system as some quarters are referring to it. There are plans to use this system to select students to all the public universities and colleges. It is reported that each district will be sending 10 students while the rest of the positions will be divided on merit.

But some quarters have gone flat out to challenge this arrangement claiming that it is targeting one region, the north. From the views expressed one can feel that emotions are running high and if the situation is not controlled, it will do more harm than good to the country. Regionalism is one sensitive subject that has the potential to disturb the peace we are enjoying in Malawi. We have a vivid example of how many lives were lost in Rwanda because tribalism or in Kenya when the post-election violence took the tribalism path.

Like many others I thought that Malawians have finally started to deal with regionalism. The results of the general elections we had on May 19 showed that we voted above regional lines. Many commentators were amazed how people voted running away from the usual patterns. This I thought was a way towards a national reconciliation, but this quota debate is proving otherwise.

I am tempted to believe that they are some groups of people who consider themselves as northerners or southerners first before they regard themselves as Malawians. From the debates that i have managed to hear, this is a serious issue that needs to be resolved in a very amicable manner. Some people have gone to the extent of tearing apart the whole cabinet, Presidential appointments, civil service based on regions they are coming from. This will not take us anywhere.

One thing that will be left after all this is hatred. A solution to equitable distribution of development, positions or education will be found but the seed of hatred that we are sowing in other people's lives will haunt us forever. We might not trigger a civil war today or tomorrow, but we will have people full of hatred. These people will be a walking time bomb which will explode at an opportune time.

I urge all the people who are better positioned to deal with these things to rise above their regional boundaries and think like Malawians. Think of a solution that will not affect the way we work, live or go to any region of the country. I pray that this debate should not divide us. We are Malawians and we are known to be peaceful and warm hearted. Together we should move forward in sharing the agricultural and economic developments that we have achieved in the past six years and think of many ways to sustain them. The young generation is watching us closely so lets tread careful and watch our words, steps and comments. God bless Malawi. Malawi Woyeeeee!!!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


She is the best thing that ever happened to me. I thank God that I have one of the finest mothers one can ask for. As we celebrate Mother’s day on 15th October , I salute her for the care, inspiration, guidance, support, direction and everything she has done and still doing for me.

I come from a very complicated family, but mum has managed to raise me, my brothers and a sister to this position. There have been trying and difficult times. Lots of challenges came her way but she managed to sail through . There are moments in life that I felt sorry for her when she had to face situations alone. She had came through all these moments a strong woman ever.

I still remember when she had to sell ‘mandasi’ to help us to go to school. Our father’s income was not enough to take care of us all. My case was the most unique because I had to use transport everyday of my secondary education. Doing my school at Zingwangwa Secondary and travelling from Machinjiri township was no easy task. There are times when I had to wait for the money made from the morning sales to use for the days transport. Mum was always there to make sure that I went to school daily.

She had not done well with school herself but insisted on having us work hard. No wonder her last born will sit for the Malawi Schools Certificate of Education (MSCE) next year while some of us have finished. She used to encourage us that she should be the last person in our family to be poor. Following her word we are all working hard to be in better positions.

As she retires in Chifira Village in Nkhatabay, she deserves all the thanks we, her children, can give. God who rewards hardworking, patience, and faithfullness, has a suitable candidate in my mum. I ask Him to give her long life.

It was not simple to raise a team of six boys and one girl. We played football when she needed us to cook, we made toys when she needed an escort to the maize mill. We could not have known anything about farming if she din’t insist on taking us to the garden in Ndirande. After farming she fetched firewood, vegetables and did other important chores while we rested. I salute my mum, Enna Kumwenda (nee Nduna). Happy Mothers Day!!!!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Vote for Bamboo Lota !!! – For a better Malawi..

I recently met a group of friends on Twitter who are very passionate about an idea that will help in dealing with deforestation in Malawi. Joanna, Kyson and Stephanie are having an idea of using bamboo to make charcoal instead o the traditional wood charcoal.

Reckless cutting down of trees for charcoal is a big problem in Malawi and statistics indicate that 90% of Malawian households use charcoal everyday. At this time when every one seems to be concerned with climate change, this idea of using bamboo is a welcome development.

Joanna and friends have come up with a business proposal which they have submitted to the Peace Corps' Africa Rural Connect Contest and they need all the support to win seed money to help taking off the project.

All one needs is to click here, sign up and endorse this idea. Three reasons why you should vote for this idea:

1. Bamboo only needs 2 to 3 years to be matured unlike trees which takes a lot more years to be matured and used for charcoal. In this case people can plant bamboo on their land and use it for charcoal afterwards.

2. This project will provide employment for several Malawians who will be part of the team to start it. According to Bamboo Lota, locals will be trained to make charcoal while some will be trained to educate their fellows.

3. Climate change is heavily affecting people all the world, especially in Africa, and projects like Bamboo lota will go a long way in bringing change to the affected areas. They have a gentle impact on the environment unlike the usual way of cutting down trees for charcoal.

You can read more about Bamboo Lota on Joanna’s blog.