Malawi President Mutharika ‘strips’ women in public, don’t blame vendors

I have sent this article to Nyasa Times because I know most print papers would have looked at it and would pretend they had not seen it. Blame it on the bureaucracies which exist in these newsrooms. After all, with the current political situation in Malawi, those in most newsroom, just like me, are as afraid for their own lives and those of their family members.

Let me start by emphasising the title of this article. It is not just any other rhetoric. Rather, as this article demonstrates, President  Bingu  wa Mutharika has stripped women before, not in private hotel room but on public, under which the malpractice was beamed live. As ‘chickens’, we applauded something which is haunting us now.

In brief, let me take you drive you through this disgracing road under which the president breached the Conventions on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which Malawi ratified in 1991. As a synopsis, the CRC is the first legally binding international instrument to children’s rights founded on respect for the human dignity and worth of each individual. However, the president has gone flat out to subject children and women into sexual exploitation and multiple sexual partnerships may be out of ignorance as he has recently shown his incapacity to think and respect Malawians.

Mulhakho girls flaunting it

His incapacity to not to respect children’s rights and women’s rights became apparent in a year before the general elections of 2009. In October  to be specific. The venue was Chonde. As he christened the cultural group, Mulhako wa Alhomwe, he also initiated children to probable sexual exploitation. In other words, this Ngwazi of street vendors (as he claims to be) instigated the undressing of women, a behaviour which has struck in his friends in trade. After all birds of the same feathers…

To let the cat out of the bag, as the founder and patron of Mulhako, the Crow of all chickens in Malawi constructively promotes the culture of having children (girls) and women to walk with their breasts out.

Indeed, it can be claimed that culture is good and should be maintained. This is why Mutharika founded Mulhako to promote the culture of this group of people who migrated from Mocambiques and settled in what is called the MTL belt. Mutharika has never refused that he is from Mocambique where he is the king, despite being the president here in Malawi. Of course, I am not questioning his citizenship to be the president in Malawi, because only the Akafula (dwarves) would legitimately claim as natural citizens of this land. We are all naturalised citizens just like Peter Mutharika Thom is to the United States.

Back to our story. I believe most of you have now created the image of those bare breasted young girls dancing seductively at Chonde in 2008, 2009, 2010, and last year October. And you are aware the principle of chinamwali or reed dance. The overarching goal is to coax men for marriage because such young girls have turned into marriage material. They come in the public to sell sex and their body to men who choose the most attractive (just like what happens in Swaziland, where king Swati chooses a bride).

A small survey set since last year October revealed one man can have sex with as many children as possible at a night after the event. This is called kulawa (as in wine-testing). After all, for you to buy something you have to test many similar things or go on window shopping. By end of the day, children are subjected to sexual transmitted infections including HIV. After all, no condoms are sold other than gondolosi (local Viagra). What can be concluded from this assertion is that by promoting that culture, the President has been encouraging child prostitution and sexual harassment, which as a country, we ratified to avoid. After all, the study found that this culture depicts women as sexual objects (which promotes gender based violence) as well as similars kolowa kufa practices, kusasa fumbi ndi kuchosa ufiti which have all the evils documented.

If you are a man, just imagine what happens in your trousers when you look a girl with all her breasts uncovered, and dancing like a stripper in the bar. I have a question for you if you are a woman; can you walk or dance with your breasts of everyone’s view at daylight. Even the First Lady cannot do this. The breasts are categorised as private parts, for private hands and eyes (until the times when breastfeeding). This is why even night queens at my Kamba neighbourhood do not walk around with their bare breasts.

This is what civilisation has taught us. But we have all stood aside and given in to archaic cultures which Malawi has been fighting to eliminate from the land. But by virtue of the president being the patron of Mulhako where such a practice is condoned, it can be inferred here that he is supporting   such undignified practice. Because the children, coming from poor households, might as well be attracted by the presence of brown khaki envelopes received after each event.

However, much as I know that Bingu is not keen at keeping international conventions, but when the one party regime ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, we accepted that we would children have the right to be protected from harmful cultures, harmful influences, abuse and exploitation. This is a legally binding document which if taken seriously, the president could be held responsible and taken to the International Court for crimes against humanity on matters of child protection.

As such, I was surprised to see DPP spin doctors castigating street vendors when they stripped women. I believe together with those civil societies and concerned women should have their campaign by castigating the Street Vendor Number 1 for his role in undressing women. They choose the lesser evil, leaving the big fish sipping whisky and waiting for October 2012. Another official month where we can undress Malawian women for the full view of the world to see. After all this event is beamed on local and international channels.

I know some DPP dunderheads and mulhako people would castigate me that I don’t have a right to poke in their cultures. Honestly, I agree. I don’t have any right whatever. I should just let the sleeping dogs lie.

But hold a sec. I have a duty to protect children who don’t have a choice. To protect them from themselves and from people like the president. He has supported a culture which degrades the human dignity of young girls because they cannot make their own choice, by virtue of their age. In this regard, the laws of Malawi stipulate that anyone standing idle when others are engaging in an illegal practice is her/himself breaking the law. I refuse to stand down.

Unless the president, as immoral as he might have shown in running the economy, goes back to his civility and declares that reed dance will not be part of the Mulhako Cerebrations and that it should be banned in Malawi, I will not conclude by this article. I will write again to breathe senses in his brains. After all, the laws of Malawi asserts that conduct falls under public indecency or conduct likely to breach peace as the behaviour that vendors have adopted from the president have shown. We all have a duty to challenge evil practices even when those involved in it don’t see it wrong.

If the president can do it; I mean, if the Street Vendor Number One, the Ngwazi of Street vendors can do it, why can his subjects, the vendors, not do it? A question for reflection to all those who castigated the vendors but do not see anything wrong when Bingu does just doing the same and even the worst of it.

As a civilised people, it is high time we challenge this practice and challenge the president for making fools of women.  This is archaic practice. If we don’t challenge it in the name of culture, it implies that even the Hyena practices and Kulowa Kufa should be promoted because they are our cultures. UNICEF Malawi would agree with me that sexual harassment in any form is the worst degradation in human society. How could I forget, we are a society of chickens where the state president undresses women on public. For those who want to support this cause and restore the integrity of children; and for those who want to castigate me in any other ways, my email is [email protected]

About the author

Using a pen name because Malawi is not as democratic as it claims. People have been arrested and some have died for questioning the president. I don’t want to die by the hand of a man, but through natural causes. I am also working with the government on some projects, so I am afraid my contract could be declared contracto-non-granta and be offered to Mulli…

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