Mdawuku wa Tonga has bemoaned the rise in teenage pregnancies and early marriages among Tonga people saying many youths especially girls are dropping out of school.
Speaking in Nkhata Bay during Mdawuku wa a Tonga cultural festival, Senior Chief Mkumbira said the Tonga cultural heritage is overwhelmed with early pregnancies and marriages the district is recording.
“As Mdawuku wa Tonga, we need to find ways of keeping youths, especially girl children, in school so that they become productive citizens,” Senior Chief Mkumbira, who is also Nkhata Bay Chiefs Council Chairperson, said.
He said it is worrisome to see Nkhata Bay girls dropping out of school due to early pregnancy or child marriages.
Guest of honour at the festival was Minister of Transport and Public Works Jappie Mhango who urged traditional leaders to stop harmful cultural practices that oppress girl children.
“As a country, we need to ensure that women and children are not victims of harmful cultural practices that are still prevalent in our communities,” Mhango said.
He further said the country cannot develop meaningfully if women are not promoted in various societal roles.
“Malawi Government has launched a number of projects aimed at increasing access to education and eliminating socio-economic challenges that force our girls out of schools.
“It is my plea to all parents not to hide behind our culture when we want to oppress others. Let us use our culture for development,” Mhango said.
On her part, Minister of Civic Education, Culture and Community Development Grace Chiumia asked traditional leaders and parents to promote girl’s education so that they are self-reliant.
“I am a role model among girls in Nkhata Bay District because I was given chance by my parents to go to school.
“Here I am now as minister; if I was not given chance by my parents, I don’t know where I could have been,” Chiumia said.
Mdawuku wa a Tonga is an annual cultural festival which started last year.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :