Thursday, July 21, 2011

20 July Malawi Demonstrations - my personal account

I joined the demonstrations abit late in Blantyre because I was called to work. The time l arrived at the Blantyre Magistates court, Lawyer John Gift Mwakhwawa was addressing people on the outcome of the efforts to vacate the injunction obtained by some concerned citizens to block the demonstrations.  Thousands and thousands of people had gathered at the court. Scores of people could be seen from Mount Soche Hotel to the Immigration Offices covering the whole Victoria Avenue.  There was peace waiting for a go ahead from the organizers to start the march.
In our midst were high profile politicians like former vice president, Cassim Chilumpha, Atupele Muluzi, Kamplepo Kalua, George Nga Mtafu, Humphreys Mvula, The Katsongas (Davie and Mark), Billy Banda, Ken Williams Mhango, Rafiq Hajat and many others

We had waited for too long to hear the good news that the injunction has been vacated and some people had started to move around Blantyre chanting and dancing. The song that captured most peoples attention was:
Ukamwa mowa,
ukamwa mowa usayendetse dziko lino
ukamwa mowa

Oyendetsa dziko lino
Samwa mowa

Then when the order came to start marching, there were differences on the route to take to the civic center. Many people wanted to take the Masauko Chipembere Highway while the city authorities had directed that we take the Soche – CI road (through Mahatma Ghandi Road). The group was divided into two with larger group taking the Highway. They did not go very far as they met resistance at the clock tower where they were returned by heavily armed policemen. On the way back some people started to throw stones at shops in the Haile Selasie road. That’s the first time the demonstrations in Blantyre turned violent.

This highway group later joined the original group at the magistrate’s court for the march on the designated route. Peacefully we marched singing our songs. Everything was well coordinated until we reached Mudi Bridge.

The armed policemen  had ambushed us on the bridge and started firing tearsgas on the group. That’s when all things turned loose and chaos started. I inhaled a lot of teargas and had to run to find water at the nearby houses. We were very scattered in different directions and tried to regroup to join the main group which was still fighting with the police near Mudi park. Some wanted to go and burn the DPP offices in Mudi while some of us wanted to continue marching peacefully.

Police started arresting people then. I run back to town through the Blantyre Market. I climbed a word Alive fence and then the market fence only to find the police waiting for us at the entrance.  I had no choice but to find a way home to save my dear live. I came with my young brother and a friend but I could not see them. I called my brother who was hiding at a house in Mandala. He later told me how he escaped arrest from the hands of the police. Everyone around him was nicked.
I walked on foot to the Queen Elizabeth Central hospital on my way home only to be told that my township was even worse than where I was coming from.  I had no choice but to go and join my brothers but fighting the regime from closer to home.

We are still fighting and just this morning full truckload of Malawi Defence Force soilders has arrived at Zingwangwa Market to do a door to door sweep. I don’t know how this will end. We are not stopping UNTIL OUR DEMANDS ARE MET!!!!!