Former president of Chancellor College Academic Staff Union (Ccasu) Dr Jessie Kabwila-Kapasula went to Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenburg in German to thank the students, activist and officials who supported the struggle in defence of academic freedom in Malawi.
The battle for academic freedom started when the former police chief, Peter Mukhito, last year summoned University of Malawi political science professor Blessings Chinsinga to account for a comment he made during a lecture. The action triggered protests that disrupted lecturers for a year.
In her address to the university on Monday, Kabwila-Kapasula, who championed the fight for academic freedom, said the picture of students of Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenburg that appeared Nyasa Times online, Malawi press and international media, was a great act of solidarity.
She said the picture which was circulated by activist Laura Graen helped fortify academic staff’s struggle in defence of academic freedom.
“It is for that reason that I stand before you today and have insisted on coming to deliver the gratitude of CCASU and all the people who stood in defence of academic freedom in Malawi. The struggle not only involved Malawians of all walks of life, it attracted the participation of diaspora Malawians, regional unions, academics of different continental and international nationalities,” said Kabwila-Kapasula.
“ One can say without a shadow of doubt, your act of solidarity, your support, not only strengthened CCASU’s resolve but the fight for the principle of truth and justice across national borders, racial lines, languages, class and disciplines.”
She informed that she is no longer president of the CCASU, saying Sunduzwayo Madise; a seasoned unionist who is a lawyer by training is now in-charge.
Kabwila-Kapasula said Madise and the union appreciate the support they gave during the struggle in defence of academic freedom.
She also said the petition that Laura Graen championed “was done just at the time when we needed it most and doing it on line, brought local and international visibility to the issue, giving it a transnational, transracial validation that we really needed.”
Kabwila –Kapasula informed the audience that the president [Bingu wa Mutharika] who was the “architect of this dictatorship and murdering of academic freedom” is now dead but said their support for the Malawians at a time when they chose to speak will forever be written in the books of history.
“When you supported our cause, we became many, and enemies of academic freedom, who were in control of the state and had lots of resource, saw that we were not game, we were people because we formed a crowd. That crowd was made more visible by your support. Thank you very much.
“Our being a crowd gave those of us on the ground, doing the foot soldiering – energy, strength of resolve and validation. It encouraged us to wear our symbol, the red scarf to mark our territory, register and register our cause, bond and bond,” she said.
The activist said there is still need to remain vigilant “as the enemies of academic freedom constructed a system of oppression that is still in our university institution and there is still a lot of work to be done before we can say the battle is won.”
Kabwila however said the new Malawi President Joyce Banda is “leaving no stone unturned to consolidate the gains made in the struggle in defence of academic freedom. “
She informed that from27-28 June 2012, CCASU will be holding a symposium to commemorate the academic freedom struggle.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :