To Topple Eurocentric Thought

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[Crd: BBC]

A few treasures and artefacts looted during the colonial period in Africa have been returned but I must admit I was kind of upset that the word ‘loot’ was used instead of ‘stolen’. Anyway, that’s just a ‘fun’ fact for todays topic on a possible transformation in our continent’s nations out of a Eurocentric thought system designed to benefit foreign powers without regard to indigenous people.
In brief, Eurocentrism is a world view built around and biased towards the western world. The term is relatively new but its definition through out history has led to racism in the forms of colonialism, slavery and apartheid. Dwelling on these too much is rather unhealthy, the simple truth is that the past cannot be returned to but probably the most important question is how to fix ourselves not in a way that pretends all of these never happened but in light of them.

First is Jesus. Yes, I believe in the son of God but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe the alternative white man religion exists, it does and that’s the religion and version of Jesus that was given to our pedigrees and passed down the generations; a mental image of an English-speaking Jesus with light skin as seen in the paintings and movies and samples of movies in our choir music videos. I have nothing wrong with a cultural interpretation of Jesus who was in reality a Jew with not as light a complexion as the movies but similar to the present day middle eastern Jews, it just would have been nice if the rest of the world’s people got to do the same for situational and cultural relevance. Today, to topple this aspect of Eurocentric thought is to contextualise for the typical Malawian/African.
Second is beauty. Know how in Government schools boys are to keep their hair short and girls not allowed to get creative. Or perhaps the prevalence of ‘weave’ masking God-given kinks we have convinced ourselves are ugly and then of course the bleaching of melanin away from this beautiful skin. These are mostly attacks on our selves out of a beauty standards set by Eurocentric thought.

We can only endorse and take part movements in favour of our African features to topple this negative Eurocentric aspect. Next up, the issue of a First language. Again, lets go to Malawian schools, private and public alike. It’s no secret that the vast majority of Malawians don’t speak English fluently which is viewed as the problem in our Eurocentrically biased minds when the actual problem is the insistence to raise and educate our children in a language that might not come naturally to them. The struggle might be hard to tell in the city but a language gap exists and is a big factor in grades, before you can solve a math problem you must understand the English around it for example. Ever been slapped (or worse) for speaking your own language in your own country at primary/secondary school? I have, more than once in fact. Consider how much self-hatred we have to be capable of to ban our own languages and treat them with second status not only in school but in official government documents too. Hope this aspect will reverse someday but until then ask yourself how you feel about French accents in comparison to Chichewa accents (keep the Dexter memes in mind).

Lastly, for the sake of this list not going on for eternity (because it can), creativity. Though we have made strides in giving a Malawian flavour to a lot things I feel like we are still convinced that all there is to invent has been done by the Europeans or will be eventually. We could go on and on about how expensive it would to come up with successful original ideas but that is also our own problem to solve and so we should push through these barriers.
To conclude, I just hope to see Malawi become a better nation in consideration of eurocentrism which is just once of the ropes tugging us backwards.

– Anthony Munthali

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A skeptic’s UTM analysis

As Malawi approaches her 2019 tripartite elections in May, I felt the urgency to write a rather skeptical analysis on UTM, the latest party making waves which has been presenting itself as a new hope for change.

THE UTM MANIFESTO.
Creation of a million jobs.
The party leader Saulos Klaus Chilima also known as SKC has boldly said he will create one million jobs. Is it just me or this seems rather impossible. I do believe Malawi is highly capable of great change but great change always has to obey the laws of natural progress and opposition. Let’s do the Math.
* The average yearly pay of an employee in Malawi is MKW5,000,000(net) according to http://www.averagepay.com. Building on this, it will cost Malawi an extra five trillion kwacha for such a goal to be achieved. And on top of this it will cost a fortune just to purchase production equipment for the factories he says he will establish, which might double the five trillion. Considering Malawi’s annual budget(below three trillion Malawian Kwacha) the impracticality of this claim is worrying. We shall just have to wait and see if SKC’s claims hold any weight.

PARTY RECRUITMENT

The party’s president has been recruiting and inviting DPP members to join his movement. Is it just me or this sounds a little off, considering that he calls the DPP members thieves. Why recruit people who you call thieves and still promise your followers a corrupt free movement. History has shown on countless occasions that corrupt members will produce a corrupt government.

Prolonged stay in the DPP

The party’s president SKC stayed in the DPP for over four years and a few months away from the tripartite elections he decided to start his own party and has labelled the members of the ruling party as thieves. Now one would ask what was he doing this whole time amongst people he calls thieves. Furthermore, why wasn’t he telling us that his fellow party members are thieves but he had to wait until he had the chance to create his own party and until the elections were nearing.

In the end we may choose to trust SKC and his party hoping they stay true to their promises but do keep account that not all is as clean as they make it out to be.

By Michael Mwaluka

Hunger, Disease, Envy (A brief essay on Poverty)

Statistics show that 50.7% of Malawians live below the poverty line, while 25% live in extreme poverty. That is to say, out of 15.9 million Malawians, approximately 14.3 million people survive on At least $2 a day whereas, about 12 million out of the 14.3, live in abject poverty. Which leaves us with about 1.6 million wealthy Malawians. Shocking isn’t it?

The gap between the rich and the poor keeps getting wider and to be fair in judgment, we should appreciate that there’s only so much we can do in small landlocked country when trying to counter poverty. Agriculture and small scale businesses have been our savior since the dawn of time, but despite the numerous resources and investment into such projects, they don’t work for everybody. Eventually efforts are exhausted,especially when the investment and effort outweighs the profit, courtesy of our failing economy.

How to bridge this gap in a corruption infested society is another hurdle to consider. By large, morality and humanity is lost in the quest to acquire riches, In society today, most times the rich help the rich and they get richer. Education plays a major role in the reduction of poverty, but for the average Malawian graduate, finding a good job when they have no connections in the industry is an achievement on its own. More often than not, if you are a nobody you will remain a nobody and that is the sad reality.

I wish there was a straightforward solution to this problem but there’s none, we can only hope and push for Government policies that will work effectively in boosting the economy. Render a helping hand to the needy if you can, until then- keep pushing, support one another and may God bless the hardworking people of Malawi.

Reference: IMF Country Report No:17/184

-By Wasekera C Banda

 

What’s in a bribe?

I once read a report that put Malawi up as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. It didn’t sound right, us really? Can’t be.
Looking back I see it now.
If you yourself have never been involved in corruption then you have probably benefited from it whether you knew it or not, I fear that it is intertwined into who we are and we’ve been convinced that it is what it is and we shouldn’t or can’t do anything about it.
Consider how your parents might have earned you a place in school, did they have to make a payment off the record? Was nepotism involved?
Or if you work then consider how you got that Job, might be in a clean manner but probably not.
How about drivers license? It’s no secret that most minibus drivers nor their vehicles should be allowed on the road.
Lastly I’ll give you a personal experience that happens a lot in our hospitals. I was once allowed to cut in line among many other patients to receive treatment on my poor eye sight because the doctor and my father are friends. I repent.
I’d be lying if I said I knew the solution but I hope I’ve highlighted that there is a problem and something needs to be done. Don’t point fingers, the solution start with you.

                                                                                                               -By Anthony Munthali

 

INEFFECTIVE JOURNALISM

What’s your perspective on Journalism in Malawi? Please  Read and Comment, we’d like to hear from you.

WASEKERA’S PERSPECTIVE:

I stand corrected, but I’m skeptical of how well informed the average Malawian is on Current Affairs, for the most part Journalists are to be applauded for their efforts. However the need for improvement is dire. As many would argue, there’s a lack of motivation due to low salaries in the industry, but I’m yet to find a reasonable explanation for why there’s very little creativity in developing new ways to inform particularly the average citizen who may not have a second level education and relies on special programs such as Radio Dramas to get updates on Current State Affairs. You and I know, such programs get tainted with political agendas over time. What then happens to these people who cannot relate to Round Table Discussions? Sadly, somewhat It seems News and Current Affairs are for learned individuals. The big flaw in this fashion is the impact it has on political outcomes. It is easy for politicians to sway votes from misinformed masses, and we all suffer the consequences. My definition of ineffective journalism is; the subtraction of the average person in the communication process. So to all my journalist friends I say, you can choose to make a difference.

 

ANTHONY’S PERSPECTIVE:

How much of what is going on in the country do you know about?
We can go months on end without hearing from the president nor know what he is up to. This is normal to us and that’s sad and a bit scary. Normally our ignorance would have to be filled in by Journalism but there exactly is the problem. The people responsible for informing us of everything good and everything not so good in the country have under performed in so many ways:
Firstly let us consider Political Bias as in the case of the news broadcaster that has dominated since the very birth of our country; MBC. Of course political bias isn’t exclusive to them but they are the best example. As being government owned they tend to lean toward the ruling party and are unable to scrutinise them in their failings but able to find praise in every government action.
Secondly when we scope out journalism in the country we realise the industry is heavily under funded resulting in poor delivery of the news as shown by how for so long we had only MBC TV which has its struggles despite being government funded and outside of MBC only having radio stations. Improvement  has been made in that other channels have popped up but suffer the same financial pitfalls and therefore a lesser reach.
Last to be mentioned but not necessarily last on our list of issues is on the question of whether Malawians even care about current affairs. A good number of people are comfortable without knowing the news because they see it as having no impact on their lives and that leads to bad choices when it comes to voting.
Today’s encouragement is that we should call out political bias and not allow it nor accept it, Push for better investment into journalism so we can eliminate political silence and of course encourage a change in the un desire to know what’s up in Malawi.

Overcoming Challenges

Learning from challenging experiences and choosing to make a difference. This week on Young African Perspective:

ANTHONY~

Recently I was reminded of how we might complain in a situation somebody else probably admires. That said simply because I wouldn’t want anyone becoming unthankful because of the following views I’m about to share on the struggles growing up Malawian. We definitely got a lot be thankful for.

Looking back, there is so much more our country could have done for us. I remember my older brother squinting his eyes through secondary school because glasses were just too costly and yet subsidies were given to a lot of point less products just to make the government look good (iron sheets for example). I remember my mothers application for a job as a police officer being poorly handled for over a year just because her employer was simply too lazy to process it. Which of course meant for the time being we had to do with a single income source. Lame right?
I remember kids dealing with depression and addiction but getting no help what so ever because such are considered exclusively western problems.
I remember disabled kids getting no special help in schools to help them get around nor to help them learn better. (By the way I really think we should all learn sign language).

These are of course only examples of what I saw personally and the list goes on and on (and on). The point I wish to make however is not to blame our country. Instead of asking what our country can do for us hopefully from now we’ll ask what we can do for our country so that future generations don’t go through the same as us.

WASEKERA~

Sexual awareness for young people is very limited, our school curriculum does not even have a special programme for it, the little bits we get from selected topics across subjects cannot be considered as proper counselling for curious teenagers. I stand to be corrected, but most families don’t have these talks either. There’s a certain secrecy and shame that surrounds sex which has resulted to more negative outcomes than positive.

Sex discussions are a taboo in my house, as anyone who grew up in a traditional – religious African home can relate, parents don’t normally talk about sex with their children. The only time I heard sex mentioned was when it was being referred to as an evil act- during my teen years, I found myself pressured by both fear and curiosity. A good number of the girls I knew became young mothers, situations that I believe could have been avoided if they had been counselled with love not intimidation. I must admit, I felt I was missing out on something, but the thought of ending up like my friends petrified me more than the cold unrelatable advice I got from my mother (sex is bad, don’t do it. End of story.) I’m glad to have got over that phase by my own determination. However
my concern is for the kids who are yet to have similar experiences. Somewhere along the line we mistook silence to avertability-
(not talking about sex doesn’t make it disappear.) Young people want to experiment, especially when ‘everyone else’ is doing it. Best case is ending up pregnant and having a safe delivery, worst case is contracting STDs and being unable to get the required help because of the shame and stigma of having done the forbidden act. Talking to your children about sex is not a bad thing. Leaving your children to figure things out on their own is a bad thing. My parents were not open enough to teach me about sex, but I choose to raise my children differently, I choose to talk and listen, not to judge and discourage but to teach and enlighten. We can all choose to do better.

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. – Barack Obama.”

“On Education”

Welcome to yet another discussion on Young African Perspective. Our subject today is Education in Malawi as we try to highlight the aspects of it that drastically need help. . .

Anthony:
Have you before heard the term Quota System used in reference to school related matters here in Malawi? I hope you have.
I remember vividly how I felt many years back when I was told my older brother was going to struggle(though he eventually made it) with selection to college because of Quota System despite his good points, it was the first I had heard of such language and I was too young to have understood it then but soon enough I did when it came to my primary school final of which I deserved a national secondary school but Got Chichiri instead(no diss intended).
If I make it sound unfair it’s because it is. People from a particular district can make it to good secondary schools or colleges with unimpressive results just because not many people in that district did well in their exam whilst in another district people will find it much harder to get a good selection because in their district more people did very well in the exam. How is that fair?
This is one major hurdle we have to over come, Malawians can not be competing on unfair circumstances such as these for the same colleges and schools.

Kherab:
With regards on the Malawian Education System, there are a number of challenges that need addressing,in my opinion, I think there aren’t enough structures to accommodate all students as most of the infrastructure and materials used especially in Government schools is old and needs renovation and updating. Lately it seems education has become unaffordable due to the increase of school fees resulting in a large number of students dropping out, this is a major setback for the country. Despite the vast amount of money allocated to the Ministry of Education each financial year, teachers in most public schools are forced to improvise as more times than not, there’s inadequate resources for learning. It’s a pity to say in 2018 they’re still students who walk for miles to get to the nearest school, on top of it all, the waiting list to get into a Public University is too long and sadly some of the best students do not make the short list, I appreciate the idea behind Quota system but the best solution I believe would rather be, to build more Universities to accommodate all deserving students. Last but not least, our leaders need to stop politicising education, politics has derailed most of the education development processes in Malawi.

Wasekera:
My take on the Malawian Education System is directed to the overall benefit and Psychological part of the cycle, we have a long way to go, that includes all the levels involved (Primary, Secondary and University). Long and exhausting learning hours do not mean the job is getting done. Most teachers are more interested in finishing the topics than making sure students understand the discussions. Our lessons are not practical hence the difficulties to relate and enjoy studies. Sadly enough I believe our mindset is programmed to see education not as a tool to develop our skills, learn new things and contribute to society but rather an escape plan from poverty and this has resulted to the ‘let’s get it over with attitude’. We may have the certificate but have we been truly educated? On the other hand The irrelevance of some topics in most primary and secondary syllabuses needs to be addressed, there is need to update the syllabuses and the system as a whole, I think it’s fair to say we have an incompetent Education System for this day and age.