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Monday, October 18, 2010

On Matthew Parris and his comment on Africa and Missionaries

I had an itch every time I saw Matthew Parris quoted by missionaries as a stamp of approval for the work they do.  I was of the mind of getting to thinking what to write about this fella who is seemingly stuck between colonial-nostalgia and post-colonial shock.  His need for having something to say about Africa (with such limited lived experience here/limited personal encounters with diverse Africans on the longer term) is beyond me.  I suppose access to the global media has a way of making folks give an 'educated' opinion at every whim?? Search me.

Anyway,  I came across (quite thankfully) these two blogs that wrote on the topic of Matthew Parris much better than I could ever hope to. Luckily there's a balance actually: the one link is written by an African and the other a Westerner.

Friday, October 15, 2010

My 2¢ on Florence (and Precious) Mhango

My respect for Scotland has in the past few months gone from low to zero. Sadly, while watching the Scottish blip at the Commonwealth festival yesterday I went as far as to mute the TV and wait for Indian festivities to come on again before continuing to watch the show.

Scotland, not content to spawn over-zealous young Malawians (well, I have in mind one specific one) that have loudly disowned everything Malawian in themselves and seek to visit their new found zeal upon us in 2022 (or thereabouts); the Scots are now championing the misguided belief that Malawi is no longer safe for us women and girls. who forgot to send my dad the memo when I was 11 that it was my cultural duty to get married off. Well, whoever forgot to send that is 18 years late as I am still reserving my bony wedding finger for that round piece of metal.

Apparently, the ministry of education didn't receive the memo that none of it's schools are up to scratch either, pity.  That memo is 46 years too late. Maybe lost somewhere in the mail.
So this case of Florence Mhango and the Evening Times (or whatever it is called).  Not only is she and her daughter from exactly the same tribe and region as I am; yet our paths are different. So to avoid being labelled  a jealous Malawian (as is often the case when Malawians protest in one way or the other- refer to web commentary on those with 'other' views on e.g. the  David Banda, Mercy James and their Dads ).  I will go ahead to propose to Florence, Precious and their Scottish friends: fight your battles but leave the Malawian name out of it.  I feel the police and the entire law system who have been reduced to ridicule over genital mutilation (again someone forgot to send out memos informing us that it is a legal practice - maybe mine was lost in the mail) and I feel for my Northern Malawian culture whose centuries old practice of lobola has been reduced to child-grabbing (again, when my parents got divorced, someone forgot to send my Dad's family the memo to grab me).  I will not speculate that poverty is the main issue here, for if it is dare I say the Scots would have been bold enough to call a spade a spade.

Who knows? Out goes anything tartarn from my arms, so long and farewell.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Polka Dot Kerchief

It is strange how some of life’s best spiritual lessons come about in the humblest of ways. I was on my wayto church when at the corner I run into a renegade church member. You know one of those embarrassing moments when you turn a blind corner and bam! Someone you didn’t plan on meeting is right on your side of the road. So yes, she looked at me sideways and I looked at her sideway (she with an apologetic ‘don’t judge me I’m only going to other churches now until our church sorts out its mess’ look and I with a judgmental ‘you renegade! It’s because of you that people say our church is falling apart’ look.

Needless to say I thought up many self-righteous things once I had passed her and shortly up the walk I noticed she had dropped a kerchief. I am eternally ashamed that I walked right past, glancing once over my shoulder once , noting she had taken the corner to right, I justified myself for not turning back. I went on to completely forget about it, after all, I had efficiently ‘justified’ myself. After church, on my way back home what did I find but the kerchief nicely picked, folded up and neatly placed on the nearest clean spot on the brick fence next to the sidewalk. To my sinking shame, I couldn’t do even that for someone I go to the church with, all because, of all things: she likes to visit other churches!

It took a stranger to show me how quickly the trap of self-righteous –controlling behaviour can consume me. It might seem a small thing but what if the kerchief incident had not happened today, who knows what walls I would have continued to build. . It’s time to pick up the kerchief and remember there is no vacancy in the Trinity.