Beyond Chavura’s rape: At times Malawi women dance to songs that belittle them

I was appalled, rather bemused, by the general response to Mwiza Chavura’s song Rape.

Elly K a sensation musician and dancer

The general consensus, by activists and the public alike, was to ‘crucify the musician’.

So fervent has the uproar been that the musician has apparently been arrested.

But I believe arresting Chavura is a wrong remedy to the problem.

Someone who sits down to write such a distasteful song, and even goes ahead to record and release it, is a troubled soul and needs counselling.

To disparage women with such vitriol and to think it is normal needs deeper therapy.

My take on the matter is that arresting and censuring the musician does little to address the underlying problem because the problem is bigger than Chavura’s Rape.

It is a problem that has been lingering in Malawian social psyche for ages.

The problem is deep-rooted.

In all settings—rural, urban and semi-urban—women have always been portrayed as victims in the artistic narrative.

Some cultural songs, particularly Gule Wamkulu and Jando songs, are so lewd they should have been outlawed centuries ago. But they continue being performed and, in most cases, in the presence of children.

Suggesting that Chavura’s song encourages men to rape is no worse than saying any woman who wears a miniskirt is courting rape. Some people have even encouraged others to do worse.

The only crime Chavura committed is against art. There is nothing redeeming about that—the lyrics are poor, the arrangement is criminal and the vocals are atrocious.

Vile as Chavura’s lyrics might sound, to act that the song is a divergent of the industry is to miss the point and completely (and deliberately) ignore the facts.

These kinds of revolting lyrics have been allowed to flourish in the industry for decades and we all have turned a blind eye.

Actually, we are all complicit in the crime because we have buried our heads in the sand, allowing this indecency to go unchallenged; hence, creating a conducive environment for such obscenity to flourish.

Which is why we absolutely have no right to act surprised when a little known and irrelevant musician takes this message onto the mainstream. To be honest, anyone with time to check on what this guy has done in the past year will see that all his “artistry” has been to catch people’s attention.

The problem with Malawi is that we let problems fester and fade away, only to reawaken when the problem resurfaces. And the circle goes on and on. Acting all concerned now is a bit superficial and a little cosmetic.We do not have a culture of facing problems head on and dealing with the cancer once and for all.

The Chavura song ought to have ignited discourse on what the problem is in the industry and sought to figure out how to deal with the crude undercurrents that have been allowed to simmer undeterred.

A while back, Mafo released a song that equated women to beer with this chorus:

Akazi ndi mowa mumakonda cha?/mowa

Not only did this song become number one hit, but I do not remember any organisation or individual that rose to reprimand the musician for portraying women so disgracefully in his music.

And because no one, not even the Musicians Union of Malawi, the Censorship Board, the clergy or the women rights NGOs have stood up to censure the musicians, this has allowed such baloney to sip into the mainstream and become accepted as standard.

I believe that Malawi has an underlying problem of denigrating women for which there is no quick fix solution.

As a nation, we need to confront these hard truths about ourselves if we are to heal these festering wounds and hate-mongering directed at women, most of whose only crime is to dress in a mini-skirt.

There have been countless scenarios where women have been abused and harassed across the country for dressing and/or acting ‘provocatively.’

As a society, we need to bring these issues into our daily discourse so that we teach our boys early about the importance of treating girls with the respect they deserve. That is the least we can do. We owe our mothers, sisters and daughters that much.

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Freedom fighter
Guest

I am in support of his arrest. Bad deeds need to be punished and his arrest served as a warning to others. Beasts belong behind bars.

Songs have a deeper effect on ppl than what we see. With his song he has planted the desire to rape girls in peoples minds.

chuchu
Guest

Hahahahah….just becoz the nude songs bring forex should not be the yard stick. Again just becoz one got scot free does not mean we shld stop arresting offenders. Chavura shld face the music……kaya afunika mental kaya….what a waste of resources….i hear he is a Mzuni graduate….eish

Freedom fighter
Guest

He is a graduate? 😱 School inavuta kumu pindulila

Aphiri
Guest

A good discussion. As much as I respect your opinion on the presumed solution to the problem; i think divine intervention is what this sin sick world needs.

zikomo
Guest

Yes this is very true, arresting Chavula will not take us any where but only to kill the spirit of creativity. You will see that these kinds of songs are the ones that brings a lot of forex to countries like Zambia and Nigeria .If these activists or I should say all those that were involved in calling for the arrest of Chavula if indeed are serious let them call for banning of wearing miniskirts for women which would really influence the spirit of rape.

Awize
Guest

Zausatana basi. We don’t need such songs here. Chitsiru chirichonse chiri ndi mwini so are those who are defending Chavula’s song. “Ndidzakupanga rape ati ndi nyimbo yabwino ilibe vuto. Anthu ena ndi odabwitsa kwambiri.

John
Guest

WHO ARE YOU TO TELL PEOPLE WHAT TO LISTEN TO AND WHAT NOT TO LISTEN TO? I THOUGHT WEARE IN DEMOCRACY WHERE PEOPLE CAN CHOOSE THE LIFE THEY WANT TO LEAD. IF YOU CANT WITHSTAND WATCHING WOMEN DANCING SEDUCTIVELY, JUST STAY HOME AND WATCH MBC PROPAGANDA

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