Dance as a ceremonial activity is no issue for me but when it is the means with which to justify the political misdeeds to please those in leadership positions. Malawi as a country is well well-known for using traditional dances as a cultural identity, an amusement process, a therapeutic process from the troubles arising from poverty, a mystical sustenance and above all as a kind of etymology that is synonymous with the political dialogue.
I have no issue with dance that provides for the spiritual ambiance and general recreational needs. My writing is very much about that dance that charms the political platforms with women taking a significant role and men doing the acclamation.
Election campaigns, political occasions and national celebration days in Malawi typically feature assemblages of women who dance and perform ditties of praise for politicians and political parties. Essentially, these lively performances constitute a social selling tool for attracting and stimulating multitudes of prospective electorate.
Until now, there seems to be unjustified understanding, that political performances by women are not unique and a requirement to prop up political hopefuls. The case in our country springs from the fact that the legacy of one party system has persevered in the multiparty democracy in the spirit of perpetuation of the long reining party and self-declared life presidency of the one Malawian namely Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda. Remember, this is my mbumba tune trouncing our airwaves, though one might argue, under duress, men had an equal share of the dancing podiums.
Then, came Atchair, Dr Bakili Muluzi, with the lyolyolyolyo melody being distinctive voice of a woman featuring in almost all UDF campaigns. The lyolyolyo marked the rebirth of a new voice of a Malawian woman. Each time the president spoke to the nation; there were plentiful interruptions of the speeches which left many a man speculating whether it was the marker of political substance in the presidential speeches.
Bingu’s legacy did not escape this important prescription of dance crazy woman who quickly picked up Bingu’s treasured melody copied from Kenneth Kaunda. Remember ‘Tiyenda pamozi ndi ntima umo’ being the song that brought hope of a united front in the development of the country.
Make no mistake, there was a characteristic cultural arrogance attached to dancing in the Kamuzu’s political age. It stood out as a marker of cultural diversity and above all brought the cohesion that stood firm against any attempts to promulgate tribal divisions in Malawi. I know for certain that there were instants when such dances were a must for everyone and on numerous occasions shadowed the supremacy of the regime of oppression.
I remember when my mother, on several occasions, hid us in the bedroom to dodge those dreaded party membership cards. The next day you find the same mother of mine, clad in MCP clothing dancing for the Ngwazi. Amidst traditional howling, you would sense the debilitating grip of the oppressor, reducing men and women to mere objects of oppression.
It is troubling that the same woman, who sang in absolute support for the longest serving regime of oppression, sings today after years of multiparty dispensation. If you talk of the greatest evil of one party system, to significant proportion, you find a woman’s voice being a substantial factor in terrors and persecutions that we have witnessed politically. You would think the dance that characterised the one party era had cultural significance but, in the current currency, it is the deterrent that politicians use for the furtherance of their oppressive agendas. What makes a Malawian woman so susceptible as far as dance is concerned? Why dance to a politician when your own man walks a far to look for a dance?
If we were to make economic sense out of it, you would find time mismanagement of significant proportions in which one would have been engaged in viable economic enhancing activity. Think of the precious time that is consumed in the dance that characterises the bridal showers and the talk therein? How much of what is shared is empowering to the Malawian woman? Ignore the presidency of constitutional convenience, and, now that a woman is the president, is it not time to call it quits with dancing for the sake of dancing and seek a neutral basis for sharing the political dance podium? I for one would suggest injecting some economic sense into this behaviour and making these politicians pay for such a service.
I take this stand because I don’t see any cultural sense in dancing for politicians in the current political tradition and, if you are to dance, dance for money and political attachment. I urge on these terms because I don’t see any cultural significance in women’s involvement in such dance forums.
In winding up my argument, I would like to appeal to all women to take stock of how much suffering they have had to endure at the hands of men. It is time to reflect on your indulgence in politics and now engage in politics with critical consciousness. It is no time to seek comfort in the belief that men are the only providers of bread in the family. If real changes have to take place at family and political levels, you have to reflect on who you are now, what those men around you think about you and perhaps explore the possibility of taking advantage of the current political set up, with office of the president being the main focus of men’s ridicule.
You have seen men’s reaction to being governed by a female president and their arguments of which you have no say by virtue of your economic position in the family. I am a man reflecting on what it takes to be a woman in Malawi. This could be the only chance to reach equilibrium in terms of balance of power at family, social, economic and political levels.
Even if it is about your rights being respected, you have every reason to support a fellow woman currently at the core of Malawian politics today. You might as well contemplate to embark on a sweeping transformation of the institution of marriage and make reciprocal consent as a right. Being a bread winner does not guarantee automatic right to encroach upon your human integrity. It is my affirmation that the ability to give consent reinforces human completeness.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :