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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Found a Qoute on the 'Negro Diseases'

In my last post I talked about the diseases black people are supposed to be having that make it dangerous to live with us...I couldn't believe people believe this sort of thing BUT I heard the same exact line in the new movie 'The Help' this morning too!

The movie is set in back-in-the-day-Mississippi and guess what? the woman who made this statement in Malawi was born back in the day in the US and her husband is from MISSISSIPPI!  Something went seriously wrong in Mississippi at some point and I know I'm not going there any day soon, thank goodness......

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I'm not a weapon of mass destruction

Long time no see, that must mean something good...that I'm busy again and back in the swing of things.  And I write again from a healthier mind, not rushing from one task to another!  This is good because now I can handle well the delicate discovery I made a few seconds ago, that according to a certain Mrs. Fern,  living in the same house with folks from my Stan can wipe out a whole race from another continent.

Apparently, the memo was not passed on to my Greek and Taiwanese housemates, oh well!

I think I would feel like the girl above if I ever met that Mrs. Fern ever again! (pic sourced from the web).

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Amazing Race in Malawi, Being in the Netherlands and why I don't Find it Amusing that Gaddafi was Slain

Yes, I did use the word 'slain' but let's start on a lighter note. I watched the The Amazing Race episode 6 of Season 19.  Guess where the teams were?  Malawi!! Granted the whole thing was touristy but hey, it's always nice to know one more person out there finally understands that Malawians like me to fight off lions on our way to the market!  Ah, it was nice to see the singing and dancing, it takes a lot of courage not to have everything in the world but still have joy and be hospitable to visitors.  I'm proud of The Amazing Race for trying this, I can't wait for the lake Malawi episode next week.

Now about being here in the Netherlands, boss man has asked me to blog now and then my take on my experiences here. it will be a challenge on two fronts.  Firstly, last time i was here I bragged that i was a lucky charm and the Dutch would win the world cup just because I was here. How dare I be so egotistical, challenging the wondrous predictions of the dear octopus next door? So ja, my embarrassment froze my writing hand....tsk tsk.  The second thing is that writing about my experiences here will inevitably lead to writing about the people that live here.  I always hesitate to write about the people of countries I live in because the purpose of this blog is to focus my attention on Malawi, I think I am most qualified to write about no other people than my fellow Malawians.  That pretty much says it all. but will see how it goes.... 

And about Gaddafi, the late Brother Leader I am not amused at the joy surrounding his slaying.  We all knew the guy in one way or other, he visited our countries, he led our continental Union, he spoke to the UN assembly, his son played soccer games we watched, hbuilt hospitals for us, we joked about his all-female bodyguard detail etc.  Why now should an internal rebellion not have called for immediate peaceful interventions and a court case for him for the civilians killed when he had retaliated in February?  But no, thousands have died, infrastructure has been damaged, himself killed brutally and clips of high-ranking officials laughing about it have emerged (a la Caeser's 'veni, vidi, vici).  There is a new government now but I'm hesitant to imagine myself going over there to visit after all this....still scratching my head.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Hebrew men of old lay memorial stones
Hebrew men of old said hello and goodbye often
yet many stones they laid
good memories marking the surpassing of bad ones....

....Hansel and Gretel dropped stones
they had said goodbye to their home and hoped to say hello again
and the witch to whose home a visit they paid
a way back they hoped they would find...
and live to tell.

People around my home liked stones
to cook upon, to fence in the flower patch, to hold the door open
to keep feet clean, to chase the dogs with...

As we lay down this dream on this stone of the unknown

may the memorial stones continue to be laid
lest we forget how we got here
may we remember where we laid the trail of stones
so that we may always find our way back to home
may we always know which stones are good for cooking, for cleaning, for fencing in the flower patch, to clean our feet and to chase the dogs of life away

So this dream is laid down for the moment
will they laugh
as we cry
will a new one come
better than the last
we pray this is a Hebrew memorial stone
that marks hope and grace
and not death and the beginning of waste

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Up the Dome Tower

Neat, huh?  So, today I went up this dome.  About 110 meters high, should have been an easy conquest but I am a child of (some) of my people.  Yay, those same people who marveled at stairways at Mandala house and got dizzy with the height of 12 steps (+-)!!!  You can imagine that when I went all the way up the Carrilion it was more than enough for me.  I tried to inconspicuously hold on to Folkert and wondered if I would survive should one of us be a terrorist and threaten to send us plummeting.  Of course, the fact that I was the only Bantu there today did cross my mind...that I was conspicuous!  But hey, here is to me for doing something new, going up so high by choice and calming my fears.  Here is to you Folkert, Here is to you the dome!  Next time Eiffel??

Saturday, September 17, 2011

My own space

Having had the honour of living for some periods in Manzini, Boise, Bremerton, Camden, Pietermaritzburg, Silverdale, and now just recently moved to a new city far and away from comfy Zomba + Lilongwe, I find that the world continues to be fascinating.  Places are so different yet the same.  People go to sleep and people wake up.  Everywhere. They go shopping.  Everywhere. ...and they speak loudly (or softly) on cell phones.  Everywhere...girls are sometimes mean to one another. Everywhere...and folks invariably use gmail, hotmail, get the picture.  Yet gaps between wealth and poverty persist in showing us differences as do technology gaps, ignorance, prejudice, pride, trade..... assured though, even though I´m here Iĺl keep to my ethos of giving commentary of the Malawian experience as I subjectively perceive it.  Fear not, I am not nor will I ever be the ´wanna-be expatriate-missionary-tourist blogo- DIARIST!!!!!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I passed my English profiency test

Ahem, I did pass the 'English as a Second Language' test. So, as it turns out, I CAN speak English. It turns out I CAN understand English after all, who knew?

OK, on a serious note, it was not easy.  It was four hours long (and yet we hear that an adult's attention span is just under ONE HOUR!!).  It was pricey (the price was in US $).  It was away from home (I travelled the previous night to the city where I took the test) - I slept in (a very posh, as it turned out!) back packers (but the price was not bad at all).  I got lost, the police had to take me to the back packers after I wandered around like a vagabond for 4 hours (no one had any idea where Berea is :-( )  ....maybe the area was called something else the second before I arrived there......

The test was tough, I should call it an exam actually because it was a proper exam in every sense of the word. I had to think, listen, compose, comprehend, watch out for trick questions, block out noise from outside, not lose track (for four hours, that was really hard for a person like me).  When I left the test room, I couldn't smile and my whole self was down and depressed for some time. And that's just part of it, I have been thinking about that test for weeks and weeks and even had dreams (or were they nightmares?) about it.

If I had the choice would I have taken the test, truly, no. I would have rather the Queen wave her scepter over my head and pronounce me a Brit for the month of May so I wouldn't have had to take the exam.

What am I grateful for? I am grateful to God that it all went well:- from the payment (thank you, you know who you are :-)), to the lekker back packers and the wherewithal to get there, to the Bereans for not knowing where Berea is and to the Howardians (especially those at the Memorial Building) for not knowing where the basement is in a buiding they attend classes/work in!!!  For the nice folks I took the exams with, especially the coordinator, who helped me work out what ID docs to bring. Finally, for the test score/result and the one who emailed it to me (the envelope carrying it is transposed somewhere between the North Atlantic and South Atlantic, possibly on a boat, I don't expect it for another few yea...sorry, weeks. lol. Good times!  and yes, Thank God, the storm is over!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

more details on TEBA workers

This is for you Judith (and any one else interested in TEBA ex-miners' news), following my last comment, here are the details that might be helpful regarding TEBA and ex-miners:

Who:  any Malawian who worked in the mines under TEBA between 1970 and 2008 and didn't get their dues

What: the SA government through debt collector company R&W, is squaring the bills outstanding;

How: Malawian claimants should call or write to Credit Data, the company that has been commissioned to run the programme in Malawi (their number must be available in MW directory??)

What is needed: Name, current addresses, contact number, date of birth and where possible, name of mine and miner ID.  Where miner is deceased, survivors can submit this details and claim.
Bank account details are needed for R&W to deposit the money

This information has been sourced from the Malawi Nation newspaper, Wed, 18 May 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

TEBA Workers to receive their money

forty years of mining migrations from Malawi to South Africa, it's finally pay day and I'm happy that these men did not risk their lives (under ground) and leave their families behind for nothing....Finally...something for the ex-miners to smile about :-)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Royal Wedding- from an African development point of view Part 1

Disclaimer-this is a subjective opinion and not a political statement.

Let me admit, I had planned to boycott watching the royal wedding on TV. Prior to the broadcast last Friday morning, I kept myself purposely ‘out of the loop’ on anything to do with it. I had taken up the chant ‘why should I bother about a royal family I’ll never meet when I have my own king right in my own Ngoni nation whose title was stripped to the bare-sounding ‘Paramount Chief’? On the morning itself I woke up and found myself house-bound due to a mix of unforeseen circumstances and I thought…’what to do but turn on the telly.’

So, long story short I watched the entire thing (sans the private reception obviously). As I watched, several things became apparent.

The first was the recognition of the multiple facets of my own subjectivity. As a child of the 80s, my memories took me back to my mother’s stack of ‘Royal Wedding’ glossy magazines filled with the Prince and Princess of Wales. Without cheating by looking on the internet, I can declare right here that Prince Charles’ uniform on his first wedding day bore black and blue colours. And if I remember correctly, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward were the groomsmen. So yes, I was an African child who according to popular belief should have been more concerned with the trees and the sun but there I was, memorizing the who’s-who of the British royal family. It was normal, I spoke English at school so it was obvious to me then, that I should know the ‘Paramount Chief’ of the English and his/her family.

Secondly, I thought back to my first brush with the reality of the media and global royal systems. My family
had moved to Swaziland in my pre-teen years and there I read (again, instead of being the African child in the trees out in the sun, shame on me) how the media had all but praise for any monarch outside of Europe. It was insane to me, every article had beautiful pictures of the royals of Monaco and the United Kingdom, spiced (nicely) to the brim with their family problems but what did they have for King Mswati and his family? Completely and utterly disappointed was I at this disparity that I resolved to forget about the whole thing. I resolved to prepare myself to vote at the age of 18 for a normal state leader, a democratic president in my own country of Malawi...

The Royal Wedding- from an African development point of view Part 1 1/4

Disclaimer: this is a subjective opinion and not a political statement

...I was sidetracked at 16, when news of Diana, by then LADY Diana hit Malawi. I was in a Catholic boarding school for girls at the time. We heard all the conspiracy stories as we counted the number of mangos in in the tree or was it during Prep time?...I believed some of them…even heard that some of her jewels had been donated to our school through a charity organisation. I pictured seeing my first royal jewels, I imagined huge orbs draped in gold...

I got boils around this stage (don’t be disgusted, it’s part of the story) and went home to my mother to recover. My mother lived in a small town, Kasungu but wouldn’t you know it. A family in my neighbourhood had the VHS of Lady Diana’s funeral. I watched the tape with that family’s kids (they were watching it for the umpteenth time) and wept as Elton John sang the ‘Billy Jean’ song re-written for Lady Diana. In my teen Christian mind I was puzzled and afraid as I read about the circumstances of her and her boyfriend’s deaths. I was happy I wasn’t Anglican, otherwise I would have been doubly confused, but then again, I should have been out in the trees swinging from limb to limb eating mangoes.

I try now to search my mind for other information I have gathered over the years that has something to do with the royals of the UK…a picture of Princess Euginee learning to swim with mittens on her hands ‘to prevent her from scratching herself’ was it? I’m not sure anymore…a picture of a balding Prince Edward… something about Princess Fergie starting a cartoon show (was it?)…some divorces…the death of the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret…..

…..and suddenly, Friday 29 April 2011, me, housebound and the telly ontuned to SABC 3... I think that was interesting in itself, for had I been in Malawi at that precise moment, chances are I would not have been tuned to a live broadcast, not because it’s not accessible there, but it would not have been accessible to ME…now that I’m grown, I AM expected to swing from limb to limb don’t you know….the limbs of a non-student-full-time-employed-junior-can’t-get-a-day-off-randomly-to-ruminate-before-a-tv kind of existence.

The Royal Wedding- from an African development point of view Part 1 1/2

Disclaimer: this is a subjective opinion and not a political statement

....So, here I was, an African, theology and development adult student, not the young Commonwealth child/teen. What did I think? Let’s make believe that I have four arms. OK? Here goes:

on one hand, as a woman, I was mighty impressed by THE DRESS, I was impressed by how the bride and groom turned out (…they are my age by the way, so that was a touching experience), I was impressed by the formalities, by THE DRESS, the simplicity yet sophistication, the homily and of course, THE DRESS!

On the other hand, as an African theology and development student, I was not impressed by the opulence that went into the whole thing. I read a few months ago a comment on a website (a habit I have since toned down on); a guy wrote with great zeal: ‘why do we think there is only one pie the world is eating from, there are many pies, the American pie, the European pie, the Asian pie….let the rich get richer…after all, it doesn’t have to affect the poor’. Hmm, bless the man but his mom should have told him to read a bit before commenting into the expanse of the media…I bet he was busy swinging from trees in his childhood :-p.

As I watched the royal wedding I kept thinking that this IS a grand display of wealth accumulated over years and years of dominion. There was nothing innocent about the opulence to me and there was nothing glorious about it all taking place in a cathedral, I wondered what the Apostle Paul would have thought about all this. And frankly, it doesn’t help that with my Commonwealth citizenship and the grand expense of attending some fine Cambridge syllabus schools in addition to BOLESWA and Malawi syllabi schools: I still have to take an expensive English proficiency exam this weekend! Truth be told, I’m filled with trepidation about that exam…I don’t have my ‘hang, hung, sang, sung, ran, run’s’ in order!!

The Royal Wedding- from an African development point of view Part 1 3/4

Disclaimer: this is a subjective opinion and not a political statement

On the third hand I thought about Eurocentrism. It creeps up on you slowly, the fact that you subconsciously watch the parade of global royals with no interest until suddenly there is a European royal and suddenly you are like, ‘who’s that? Doesn’t s/he look wonderful…move over Prince of Benong Beng! I want to see that European, which European country did they say s/he is from?!’ I didn’t catch myself doing this until I was surprised to see two choir boys, one clearly from Asian descent and the other from African descent. And then it suddenly hit me, I was at Heathrow airport a few years ago and definitely there are Brits of Indian, East Asian, African origin aplenty! You get my point.

On the fourth hand, and the last hand what impressed upon my mind a few days later is the question of Osama bin Laden. Of course, my African trees and sunlight don’t tell me much but I do wonder about what impact HUGE celebrations have on the psyches of human beings. Temporarily a royal wedding takes place and captures the imaginations of millions (or did they say billions); equally, a mission accomplished exercise takes place and hordes celebrate as was the case with the media report on Osama bin Laden (I stress ‘media report’ here because I haven’t read the official statements from the UN yet).

What does that say to me and my trees about the 21st century’s media platforms which allow us in hordes to be triggered by images of occurrences thousands of miles away? A camera angle, a script, good lighting, tv rights, a telly (from Fong Kong) and we are mass mobilized! How much of the nuances are we aware of? Do the post-modernist argue that anything goes? Well, then how much of what ‘goes’ are we taking responsibility for allowing…in our so-called 21st Century of ‘justice’?

…look up, look down, look up again…where am I? I’m in a mango tree! Mmm these delicious mangos in an African winter! Yum, yum, yum, Delicioso!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Cramming for an English Test

Fascinating...I am required to take an all important English test next month. Don't ask me why, it has something to do with my not being a 'native English speaker'.  Well, I am a native :-p lol, some would say...and I do speak something... but I am definitely not English.  These are the times you wish the Queen would get a bit distracted from her grandson's wedding and wave her sceptre over my head pronouncing me English for a month. Wishes....

This takes me back to learning English back in the day.  First by rote.  I remember the teacher saying endlessly, 'Class, what is this?'
and our response was, 'ZAAAAT IS A TROPHY!!'

'Again, class! What is this?'

I remember graduating to Timve and Tsala at around age 8 after barely managing Reading for Some Purpose and Peter and Jane.  Timve's Big Shoe anyone? What about learning through song on the then only authorised radio station, Radio MBC?
 'Good morning children, good morning children, good morning dear children! Good morning to you!
'Good morning teacher, good morning teacher......'

It's a tough language to learn.  Especially when it stops being about stories and poetic songs and  they start throwing in grammar and stuff. ....but then, suddenly you are in high school and stories come back and the class is called English Literature.  I never got how they crept that on us.

Anywho, this is serious. I am studying for my English test.  Wish me well please, I've been known to speed read (which is good for missing a lot of instructions and failing trick questions); I've also been known for picking up bad habits i.e. sms lingo, ChichEnglish, copy+pasting phrases from Ebonics, get the idea :-( 

....truth be told, this is scary

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Should the Contemporary African take Racists seriously?

Yes and no.  I'll start with the 'no'.  Racial attitudes, slurs, ideologies and actions; when one is on the receiving end are very tedious and sap a lot of energy.  This is because you have to deal with these at various levels, from 'Oh, poor him/her; he doesn't know any better.', to slowly balling your fist counting 1 to 10, etc.  At times it's helpful to rationalise, turn a deaf ear, ignore racist readers' comments online on news sites, avoid certain people, places and gatherings...  I truly believe it is possible to get by in Africa without letting racist sentiments near and far, physical and cyber get to you.

On the other hand  paying attention to these sentiments (within reason) and observing who perpetuate them in various guises and levels of 'innocence' is quite an educational enterprise.  By understanding the 'fear factors' that are the foundation of each and every racist sentiment, belief, action etc. all on the receiving end of racism gain a window into their own qualities that are so feared.   Examples are many and people experience racism in a plethora of ways.  The bottom line is that throughout history, all social organisms founded on hate have consistently failed.  Those who create them have never learned the formula and never will that:

us + them = us + them;
it doesn't add up to much does it? It's like orange + pine apple; the sum will always equal orange + pine apple.
....except we are not oranges and pine apples.

for value (us) and value (them) to arrive at desirable (value X) in our social agenda; (us) and (them) must have a value in common: (human)

so that (us humans) + (them humans) = ((us+them=we) humans)
therefore (we humans) will only arrive at desirable (value X) when (we humans) recognise that only (we humans) are capable of arriving at desirable (value X)

You didn't get it? Don't worry, only (we humans) get it. (us) and (them) don't; they are still fighting over pine apples and oranges!

So help us God.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Lost in Draft

How? Wrote lines and lines about whether it makes global economic sense to allow unlimited money to accumulate on 'talent' i.e. the who's who of the grammys and Oscars for example. 

Celebrities of the US and UK have no ceiling it seems when it comes to endorsement deals, advertising deals, record deals, appearance fees, photo/story sales to magazines...the millions they get paid just seem to grow with every decade.

Well, what I wrote just disappeared  into cyberspace, poof! just like that. Thank you net nanny for nipping my criticism of this new class in the bud. Do you suppose 200 years from now people will say: 'the 21st Century was characterised by a steadily growing class of the wealthy, the Celebrities!' Well now, that's a topic for another day, fare the well my recently snatched draft...

Friday, February 11, 2011

A throw-back...

LOL, scrolling through my drafts, found this entry that never made the cut.  It's from about 3 years ago....!

Thank God for Labor Day! I am exhillirated, especially after Easter came in March and we had the whole April with no break, man, this is cool. What am I doing today? top of my list, I'm going to the Sunshine Boutique AKA Bend Down Boutique AKA Flea Market (where the fleas at?) AKA Kaunjika ONLY IN AFRICA BABY!!! I'm looking for some basketball shorts, not just for training, but I think they just inflate my ego, remind me of yester year....don't know if I can chance a basketball jersey, need to work on my tri-ceps, you know with all the good nsima it's kinda hard to keep them in check.

so to you all holiday/labor day celebrants, don't spend your hard-earned Kwacha drinking today..Carlsberg is already rich!  Meet me at the Sunshine Boutique. One Love!

-----p.s.  remember the scary rope bridge on your way to the bend down boutique, and you had to pay 5 Kwacha to walk on the flimsy thing, mmmha ha ha h!  wonder if it's still there as was!!!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Matters of Race: The Eavesdropper

Folkert and I took the metrorail up and down Cape Town several times over the Christmas season.  Not only was it efficient transportation, it also provided for us time to chat, talk and discuss... So obviously, after several days a topic that was at the centre of our discussions on one of those train rides was the issue of race. How people were responding to us, how they were responding to ME walking with Folkert; how they were responding to FOLKERT walking with me!

 After talking at lenghth, and me being secure that, racially, things are as they seem; our jaws dropped when an eavesdropper, a White guy might I add, walked up to us holding up a picture of his bi-racial girlfriend, 'You don't have to live in the past!  Look! This is my girlfriend for the past ... years.  Things were like that but you don't have to live in the past!'

If my memory serves me correctly, he had tears welling in his eyes.  It happened to be his stop and off he went.  It really got us thinking, we have had some bad experiences, we have had some weird experiences and we have had very many good experiences.  This guy gave us a good insight, it's not all about the experiences...we do have a choice, we can choose to LIVE today.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cleavage, Women's Thighs and Global Location

The first time I ever noted the frenzy over women's chest areas was in Swaziland.  The international media was fascinated by the Reed Dance, 'Women parade around like THAT?' they seemed to scream as they happily snapped away. But at my school in the middle of Manzini, Swazi school girls practiced for traditonal dance competitions dressed in what was normal for traditonal dances: bare chests and all. 

Having read all the rants and raves about women and cleavages in Eurocentric literature and media,  I looked sideways at teachers during those traditional dance practices, hoping to see signs of, at the very least, embarrassment...but there was none whatsoever.  The teachers seemed to only be occupied with whether the girls were following the beats.  This puzzled me for years until another puzzle came along...African men's frenzy over thighs. 

Whereever thighs were flashed around as I grew up, drama happened. Short skirts hollered at here, short-shorts criticized there, street vendors throwing sarongs at women whose skirts/dresses were too short, name-calling over there...and the mysterious men who lectured my mother about my dress which was just 2 cm above my knees when I was 16!

I searched high and low in Eurocentric literature to find out if the was a similar frenzy about women's thighs. Apart from stories about the revolution of the mini-skirt in the mid-twentieth century, nothing whatsoever.  I suppose after the victorian era-esque bell dresses, the mini-skirt wasn't too much a revolution because less than a century later we now have shorts of the same length as mini-skirts and shorter and yet there is no crowd of cameramen descending on women's Fifa matches to gasp: 'They play football in THAT?'

Anyway, to get to my point, it's only last year that a random discussion with my wise neighbour revealed that apparently what men notice about women depends on where they are globally.  Take the breast-feeding campaigns, would it surprise you to know that I first saw a blouse with flaps for breast-feeding on a European woman?  Growing up it was no big deal for women to breast-feed in public. I don't know about now but back then there was nothing out of the ordinary about it. Yes, the chest area, within society is safely tucked away but there is no frenzy about it.

Certainly I've never heard of anyone within my circle of friends going on and on about bra size or dreaming of a visit to a cosmetic surgeon about it, well, only one but she wanted it because the weight was putting pressure on back.  And yet, years ago, a kindly old man on the street went out of his way to advise me on why I should cover up my legs, 'It's the backs of your knees child, honour the backs of your knees.  Don't show them off too much or they'll become a common sight.'  Sounds like what some would say about a cleavage elsewhere.

So women all around, beauty comes from within. What is attractive on a woman varies from place to place (and maybe from generation to generation) so please don't obsess about this or that. Be healthy emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically and let the beauty from within radiate! Think of old China and the bandaged feet, think of Hebrews and hair, think of Romans and plump women, think of modern media and twiggy women...we can't afford to fit into all these images of feminine beauty, there are just too many images!