Nsanje chief, residents demand BBC apology over ‘hyena’ report

Stakeholders in Nsanje district have responded angrily to British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) recent report entitled ‘the man hired to have sex with children’ which portrayed that some men are hired to sleep with underage girls through a sexual cleansing ritual called ‘kusasa fumbi’.

From left to right: Aniva, Fanny with their youngest child, Fanny's sister and a former client

From left to right: Aniva, Fanny with their youngest child, Fanny’s sister and a former client

A report published on BBC on July 21, 2016, which quoted Eric Aniva 45 also exposed an alleged practice in which women who lose their husbands are taken for death cleansing before burial of their husbands which Senior Chief Malemia and other stakeholders claim is not in the district’s cultural system.

During the meeting held in the district Tuesday, stakeholders said they are very angry with the story as it is not representing the truth of Sena culture.

“What is in the report is a mix up of different cultural practices that were being practiced in other district and not in Nsanje. For instance, here in Nsanje, we do not have this culture of girls having sex with a paid sex worker known as ‘Hyena’ once they reach puberty as rituals.

“It is even false to claim that when a man dies, his wife is required by tradition to sleep with a hired man before being buried. It is a total misrepresentation of facts that aimed at tainting the image of the district but also the country as a whole.

“I have no kind words for the BBC reporter as his news item does not paint a true picture of the Sena culture. We are questioning the intention of Ed Butler who wrote the story as his story is not representing the truth of their culture,” said Senior Chief Malemia.

Senior Chief Malemia said the culture of sexual cleansing after the death of a man has been modified as when a man dies, they use another family or relations to do it on their behalf and not hiring man to do it with the widow.

One of the many stakeholders attended the gathering Sustainable Rural Community Development (SURCOD) are demanding an apology from the BBC.

SURCOD Executive Director January Mvula says the story has destroyed their image hence the need for an apology.

“We the Sena are not the fools. If you read that vague story, you will find that it has a mixed up of cultural practices which are not practiced in Nsanje district. In real sense, Aniva would have been arrested for cheating on issues that are not happening in the district. As a district, we are demanding an apology from the BBC.

Meanwhile Eric Aniva 45, of Mbenje village in the area of Chief Ngabu in the lower shire district is currently on remand at Nsanje prison awaiting trial scheduled for August 5, 2016.

He is currently answering a holding charge of prohibition of harmful practices under section 5 sub sections 1-2 of Gender Equality Act of 2013 which he is admitting.

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18 thoughts on “Nsanje chief, residents demand BBC apology over ‘hyena’ report”

  1. Changalikandu Pwagu says:

    Chief Malemia and the useless SURCOD executive are saying nothing to disprove the existence of the primitive and savage practice of sexual cleansing among the Sena. What you’re saying is that instead of hiring someone like Aniva, families now engage a relative to perform the barbaric act. It’s the same thing you idiots! Such practices have no place anywhere in the 21st century and should have been banned a long time ago. Why cling to such a harmful and primitive cultural practice, you empty-headed Sena tribal dunderheads? The onset of HIV/AIDS and modernity should be enough to discredit the role of such a harmful and morally repulsive cultural tradition in any society. Where have the loud-mouthed CSOs and normative INGOs been all along? They should have exposed and condemned this primitive cultural practice all along. And the government too has been asleep on the job. Whilst preaching gender equality and putting up measures to arrest the HIV/AIDS pandemic, it has blissfully been turning a blind eye to such harmful cultural practices which are the very antithesis to gender equality and the fight against HIV/AIDS.

    I salute President Mutharika for taking the bold decision to order the arrest of Aniva, although some pedantic law academics have branded his decision as unconstitutional. Give me a break Prof Kanyongolo, the president has the power to protect the best interests of our society, period! You have a very narrow view of the president’s powers when it comes to matters of national security. If he has powers to appoint and fire the national head of the Police force, why and how would he lack powers to issue certain instructions to the Police head in the national interest? I would do the same thing if I were president.

    Back to the laughable demand by Malemia and the useless SURCOD executive. Do you think the BBC would be as naive as you are to accord you an apology for a story they have thoroughly researched and truthfully covered? Stop the nonsense!

  2. John Dimingu says:

    Those who understand different cultural practices in Malawi should know which practice is done in which tribe or district and how it is done. The same name of cultural practice is done differently in different parts of Malawi. One such common one is “Fisi/Hyena”. For example in many districts in central region fisi is someone who come in a family where they are finding it difficult to bear children and the husband is believed to be the culprit. In the lake shower districts of Machinga, Mangochi, Balaka and the lomwe districts Fisi is more to do with initiation ceremonies. It is for this reason that USAID funded ASPIRE project is also addressing issues to do with harmful practices (P6 of the RFA-Request for Application RFA-612-14-0003 issued on 19 June 2014 by USAID). In lower shire you have fisi who also called Nyakupitakufa/Nyalumbi who is mostly centres around death cleansing and others.

    These cultural practices are undesirable. However the BBC story had a lot of factual errors, misrepresentation, poor translation of words and propaganda edition. For example Aniva in the video documentary talks of kugonana ndi a zimai but the English translation talks of having sex with girls. It is very unlikely that this guy was told the purpose of the documentary which is unethical too. Cultural practices are supposed to be transformed to change and not forced to change. We have more than 100 years since religion was introduced in Malawi. It painted most of our cultural practices as sinful and deserving elimination. But tell me, don’t we still have nyau in KU, DA, LL, MC and the kulamba ceremony being led by our own learned former vice president (Malezi) and LUANAR Vice Chancellor Professor Kanyama. Do you think these learned people are not aware of the negative image their nyau cult has?

  3. Tikondane says:

    Kunama amfumu. Kusimba kumapita kumene the underaged.

  4. be humane says:

    Chief Malemia you are saying you dont hire but get a relation. To do What????????

  5. brexit says:

    Chief Malemia, are you sure your people are not practising that culture? Then what is it that have been modified? When was it modified? Foolish Nsena. You do everything, even a man marrying his sister in-law while he is still with her elder sister.This is very sensitive issue. watch out my dear.Aniva is gone, ten years for just his own soft mouth.That story will make that journalist rich while Aniva is languishing in prison. Jack up all senas.

  6. Drakest says:

    I agree with TA Malemia and the Nsanje grouping, some of the cultural practices being alleged in newspapers and the reporter are a mixture of cultures practiced in all Districts in Malawi. The fact is the Sena practice the Kulowakufa culture not the cleansing one, that one is done in the Yao belt when they force their children to go for initiations and genital mutilations and its not found in the Sena Culture. People are trying to justify the BBC recordings, please go and listen carefully what Aniva Said and the accompanying comments by the BBC reporter. Since Malawians fear whites a lot they want to believe the lies of the stupid reporter, People of Nsanje go ahead with your request for an apology and if it wont come please sue BBC and the reporter.

    1. Jigidi Jaba says:

      Point of correction my friend. Yaos initiate their girls indeed, but such initiations do not involve the genital mutilations you have mentioned. I know there are very many men from your culture who have had carnal knowledge of yao women; ask them and they will confirm to you that yao women have their genital accessories intact. Please let notemotions push you into saying things based on ignorance.

    2. Tikondane says:

      Nanunso bodza mudzaleka liti kodi? Zoona mukufuna nkhalambazi zidziwagonabe anawa? Mulibe ana atsikana, eti!!!!!

  7. The Patriot says:

    Amazing rebuttal!
    Here is a group trying to deny that a man had sex, even if there were not there! This will not benefit anyone,,,,,,thus guy has even pleaded guilty to the charges and yet someone somewhere wants us to believe that the sexual encounters never happened.
    It seems these people did not listen to the full documentary…..there were even girls who testified to have been forced by their sena families to sleep with this hyena!
    Simple advice: dont waste time defending your tribe…..route out this hyena rotten cultural practice otherwise all of us now know…..atsikana a Chisena……nkhabe!!!

    1. Drakest says:

      So you seem to be more knowledge of the Sena Culture than the guardians? My friend if you went to school go and listen to the interviews carefully rather than believe in everything the whiteman says, thats why people of Malawi are failing to develop they believe a lot that what a white man says in true and final and the whole Malawi is shaken by a report that is laced with lies

      1. Vains says:

        Palibe chamber chomwe mukunena. In all what you saying I can’t see the development attached. No any country has ever developed because of serial related culture

      2. Tikondane says:

        Go and sleep!!! Osanama pano!!!

  8. MISUKU BOY says:

    But I understand some hyenas are on the run and police is after them, can you tell me why they are running? Call a spade by its name this culture is there finish.

    1. Tikondane says:

      Well asked!!!

  9. Aliko says:

    A chief whether you hire or relation does that, that we are trying to say the culture is infringing the peoples rights. this must stop. Pokawauza mumati chiani if he was not his husband ndiye ndi hireyotu. Nanga munthu mwamuna wake wafa ndiye mumutengere mwamuna woti siwake a Aids amuna akewo. Si utsiru umenewo. its very unfornatute that you do not see anything wrong in this culture

  10. Sasamba says:

    I think hyena was paid to make the story appetizing, its indeed a mixed up the kusasa fumbi is practiced in south- eastern Malawi.He was even so proud to reveal the issue showing they might promised him something in return

    1. John Dimingu says:

      Those who understand different cultural practices in Malawi should know which practice is done in which tribe or district and how it is done. The same name of cultural practice is done differently in different parts of Malawi. One such common one is “Fisi/Hyena”. For example in many districts in central region fisi is someone who come in a family where they are finding it difficult to bear children and the husband is believed to be the culprit. In the lake shower districts of Machinga, Mangochi, Balaka and the lomwe districts Fisi is more to do with initiation ceremonies. It is for this reason that USAID funded ASPIRE project is also addressing issues to do with harmful practices (P6 of the RFA-Request for Application RFA-612-14-0003 issued on 19 June 2014 by USAID). In lower shire you have fisi who also called Nyakupitakufa/Nyalumbi who is mostly centres around death cleansing and others.

      These cultural practices are undesirable. However the BBC story had a lot of factual errors, misrepresentation, poor translation of words and propaganda edition. For example Aniva in the video documentary talks of kugonana ndi a zimai but the English translation talks of having sex with girls. It is very unlikely that this guy was told the purpose of the documentary which is unethical too. Cultural practices are supposed to be transformed to change and not forced to change. We have more than 100 years since religion was introduced in Malawi. It painted most of our cultural practices as sinful and deserving elimination. But tell me, don’t we still have nyau in KU, DA, LL, MC and the kulamba ceremony being led by our own learned former vice president (Malezi) and LUANAR Vice Chancellor Professor Kanyama. Do you think these learned people are not aware of the negative image their nyau cult has?

Comments are closed.