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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!