A picture of a flood victim in Karonga kneeling on the feet of Vice-President Saulos Chilima, who is also Minister responsible for Disaster Management Affairs, in appreciation for relief food and other items he presented to him and other victims is trending in social media and drawn mixed reactions.
British High Commissioner to Malawi Holly Tett said the an unidentified flood victim should have just said thank you to the Vice President instead of kneeling on his feet.
In a tweet, Tett said: “What’s wrong with the traditional way of just saying thanks accompanied by a smile.”
There was reaction from Malawian social commentators on Facebook who schooled the British envoy that some traditional culture in the country demands that people kneel before an elderly person or a leader in a show of respect to such personality and this is not unusual.
Former British High Commission worker, Lewis Kulisewa, who is now at Competition and Fair Trading Commissionon as Director of Consumer Welfare and Education, took his reaction to Twitter.
He tweeted: “If I [email protected] I would realise that no culture is more superior than the other. I would also recognise that demeaning other cultures is not part of the diplomatic brief.”
Outspoken writer and social media activist Stanley Onjezani Kenani also rebuked the British diplomat for her tweet.
Wrote Kenani on Facebook: “To the British High Commissioner, Holly Tett: every country has its culture. Respectvit.”
He posted two photos to buttress his point, one of King of eSwatini (Swaziland) showcasing dresses see topless in traditional wear.
“Imagine is some ambassador there were to say such a thing does not sit well with her,” he wrote.
Kenani also posted a photo of an official in Britain kneeling before Her Majesty the Queen.
“Men in Britain kneel for the Queen, nobody says a word. We expect better from someone at the level of High Commissioner,” he wrote.
Chilima has been criss-crossing the country visiting those struck by the latest floods in Nkhotakota and Karonga, giving out food, plates, cups, cooking oil, roofing materials, mattresses, blankets and others.
In Karonga North, Chilima brought with him relief items for 750 households, but assured the remaining people that government will swiftly send more aid.
He visited camp sites at Kasantha and Kaporo, both in the area of Traditional Authority Kilupula.
As at Monday, the heavy rains had also displaced over 130 households in Nkhotakota, while in Nkhata Bay, over 20 households and 45 hectares of crop fields had been affected.
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