In a quest to end early Marriages and promote education in Ntchisi District, a number of Chiefs headed by Traditional authority Kasakula have taken responsibility in using the institutions of Gule Wamkulu to enforce school attendants and end child marriages in their areas.
Once it is verified that child marriage has taken place, the chiefs use Gule Wamkulu to go in the homes of both the child bride and groom to do a vigil until all the parents agree that the marriage should be annulled so that the two can get back to school.
Speaking during a four-day media tour organized by Evangelical Association of Malawi, Traditional Authority Kasakula said he is very happy that the aspect of culture (Gule Wamkulu) is playing a pivotal role in fighting early marriages and promoting education.
“As Chewa people, we thought it is wise to use Gule Wamkulu as a tool in stopping early marriages, to supplement efforts by Evangelical Association of Malawi through their project called ‘Stop Early Marriages (STOM),” he said.
Kasakula also observed that promoting education and ending child marriages in his area is such an involving task that needs unified effort .For this reason he has allowe Evangelical Association of Malawi to operate in his area.
Gule Wamkulu leader in the area Jerefati Chikhumbayani said they also organize Gule Wamkulu annual festivals to raise funds to support the effort.
He indicated that the proceeds go to a special fund used to assist vulnerable learners and those withdrawn from Child Marriages to attend school by buying learning materials and school uniforms.
“When the Children are withdrawn from early marriages and sent back to school they face challenges including lack of resources and to solve those problems we use these festivals to raise funds for that,” he said.
Evangelical Association of Malawi, ‘Stop Child Marriage’ Project coordinator Chibwana said their project has been very successful in the area considering that chiefs have also been cooperative in the course.
Chibwana added that Traditional Chiefs are custodians of culture in most rural Malawi and therefore are an important agent of change in ensuring long-lasting change in their communities with regard to early marriages.
“We are implementing ‘Stop Early Child Marriages’ project here in Ntchisi and one of the activities we conducted as Christian organization is that we established a group of champions, and its composition comprises of Pastors, Chiefs, Leaders of youth forums and leaders of Gule Wamkulu.
“We liberated them to design ways they could use to end child Marriages and they resorted to using Gule Wamkulu as one of their strategies and it has really proved to be effective as cases of Child Marriages have been minimized,” he said.
Awareness campaigns to the members of the community also emerged as one among the measures to promote girl Child education and ending early marriages in the area of traditional authority Kasakula in the district.
Funded by Dan Church Aid “Stop Child Marriages” project is being implemented by a Consortium of Evangelical Association of Malawi, Press Trust and TEVETA, so far the project has managed to end over 550 Child Marriages in the area. The project is expected to phase out on 31 March this year.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :