Kaliati, spare the messengers, please!


“When the messenger arrives and says ‘Don’t shoot the messenger,’ it’s a good idea to be prepared to shoot the messenger, just in case,” said Howard Tayler, the creator of Schlock Mercenary Webcomic. 

Mrs Patricia Kaliati recently re-appointed as Minister of Information and Civic Education, a more fitting name for which would be the Ministry of Disinformation and Civic Mis-education, has adopted this Howard Tayler quote, verbatim, as her operating philosophy for her second ministerial term, in this very troubled reign of President Bingu wa Mutharika.

She was at it the other day, reportedly schooling online journalists in Malawi “to preserve the integrity of the country” by desisting from publishing stories and pictures aimed at tarnishing Malawi’s image.

Topless girls flaunting it before President Mutharika

Now, we at Nyasa Times, and we believe we are speaking for the other on-liners too; are at a loss as to which stories or pictures we are allegedly publishing with the aim of tarnishing the motherland’s image.

Could it be the Bisa character and caricatures that accompany Bisa’s letters that have irked her? If this is the case, can anyone sober and in their right senses, rightly claim that those caricatures tarnish the image of the motherland? How? An explanation, or better still a Ntaba-Kutsaira-Kanyumba type of clarification, would be in order.

Or could it be, that the offending picture is the one that that portrayed Mulhakho “topless culture”? We don’t know. Because that picture was take in broad day light on a day when the good minister was amongst the dignitaries at the celebration of Mulhakho culture.

We are referring to the one that graphically caught on camera a grand parade of bare-breasted girls marching before the married, aged and respected men and women, who included the state president, the president in waiting, men of God and other such people of power.

Honestly, we at Nyasa Times, being patriotic citizens and parents too, would not want to tarnish the image of Malawi by carrying, of all pictures, a picture of semi-nude girls, for no good reason or in bad faith. We would never do that, nada!

Carrying such a picture, under whatever guise, would be total haraam to us if the picture was taken by a sneaky paparazzi or with hidden cameras, like the ones used by Big Brother Amplified, and it was taken by invading and violating the privacy of the unfortunate girls within the confines of a “chinamwali” ceremony; where the girls; we are told, wander about topless.

But when such a picture comes from a highly publicised cultural function, patronised by Malawi’s VIPs, reverends, and other such eminent persons; and with such persons sitting on a podium, feasting their gluttonous eyes on the teen-agers breasts; breasts which in public belong to a camisole; who are we to censure it? On whose authority would we do that? Which moral high ground would hold us aloft?

Wouldn’t such an act (the censuring) be tantamount to questioning the morality of the Excellencies, reverends and honourables that, desirous and nostalgic of their heydays, have decided to remind themselves of what they are missing from years gone by?

And this would unthinkable, base rudeness and the police in Malawi under the current regime could even arrest us for high treason! We were raised as “born frees”; we are the generation that grew up under the four cornerstones and under the watchful eye of young pioneer instructors. Tinakula ndi mwambo, therefore we desist from encouraging wanton display of body parts and appendages that belong in public under garments.

The one therefore that is tarnishing the image of Malawi is not us. It is the ones who parade hapless girls in the semi-nude, exposing them to the zoom lens of the MBC, a host of photographers (just one of whom happened to be ours) and of course, to the sugar daddies that were sitting and salivating on the podium.

Madame Minister, please re-think your philosophy: we are only messengers, and you would do well to point your weapon elsewhere. Go to the root of the problem: the organizing committee of that ceremony and spare us the lecture, we have better things to do. We have on-liners to publish!

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