“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”– John 13:34-35
Malawi woke up to the rude shock this week when Football Association of Malawi president Walter Nyamirandu Manda lost his FIFA Council seat in elections to a Nigerian competitor. This bombshell hit hard in our proverbial stomachs, but only among few Malawians. While I was instantly saddened at Malawi losing this international seat, the majority of Malawians were in celebration mode. At every encounter of the celebrating countryfolk, my cry was Oh Malawi, my Malawi, where is your love!” Malawians are heavily allergic to other Malawians doing well, working on foreign countries.
The celebrants, it appears the out-going FIFA Council member, were unhappy with Walter’s handling of local football, accusing him of dragging the game of football to unforgivable levels during his team as FAM president. Heaped on the FAM president is the issue of theft of gate takings at major stadium during matches. Low gate takings led to poor collections by teams and players; this led to general apathy and low morale. For good measure, the fact that Walter was pocketing K16m a month did not help move the needle toward sympathy for him.
In his support however, on the money issue, it is hard to imagine Walter going to the stadiums with a bag collecting gate takings. As for the K16m monthly, as with every Malawian employed outside the country, this is a great boost to the country’s foreign exchange earnings. Lastly it is hard to connect the international and local representative roles played by Walter.
One defender for Walter wrote that “we should never tell our children being Malawian comes first. it does not. We are a nation that celebrates when one of our own, Walter, is floored in FIFA council elections.”
Maganga, continued by saying that he saw people boisterously celebrating Walter’s loss of the plush international position. Wow, Malawians can celebrate. He lamented that it has not occurred to Malawians, that Walter’s loss, is Malawi’s loss. As Walter sat on that seat, Malawi’s flag was raised.
Maganga also believes that there is a bigger picture; that the animosity about Walter is “not about Malawian football. It’s about a Malawian of a different political colour.” A close second is the love for the fall of any Malawian. Malawians “are a people who celebrate when a friend loses a job or find themselves in a trouble.”
As Malawians celebrate Walter’s FIFA Council seat, they are in essence celebrating Amaju Pinnick of Nigeria win. Is it really still more satisfying when a Malawian loses his/her job? Is it a normal thing to do to attempt to interfere with a fellow Malawian’s service in another country? It is sad to report that Malawians celebrating other Malawians in international jobs or positions, has not started with Walter’s FIFA fall. Three examples highlight the manner of Malawians toward their compatriots that hold international positions.
Former president Bingu wa Mutharika was CEO of the hugely successful pan-African COMESA. Because he had the audacity to challenge the UDF by establishing his UP political party, once in power, UDF orchestrated Mutharika’s ousting from the organization that has 21 countries from north, east, and southern Africa. He was removed at the agitation of his fellow Malawians. Ironically, Bingu was the only person that Bakili Muluzi hand-picked to be the candidate to replace him.
The late Maria Chidzanja Nkhoma, was a former MBC employee, who was working for the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). After driving Maria out of the country by the new democratic government that had filled the national broadcaster with party loyalists, a cabinet minister hounded the SABC to dismiss Maria and other Malawian broadcasters they were anti Malawi government. The SABC snubbed this ministerial request.
Encouraged by then Ministry of Gender PS Mrs. Esnath Kaliyati, I worked with media women to form the Malawi media Women’s Association (MAMWA). Further encouraged by Ma Mavis Moyo (chairwoman of the SADC Media Women’s Association), I commandeered the MAMWA and secured UNESCO funds to establish a community radio station for women.
These two steps accomplished, led to my getting an invitation at a global association of broadcasters conference held in Zimbabwe. At the conference my fellow SADC colleagues and I worked through the night negotiating and exchanging promissory support. The end result of all night canvasing secured for SADC getting five members of the six slots for Africa. Among the five members were Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Malawi.
But my position on the position was short-lived. Unhappy with a non-UDF person at the helm of an association that owns a community radio station, a cabinet minister gave female broadcasters money to join MAMWA; the next day the new members called for a meeting to hold a vote of no confidence, which managed to oust me out of an association I had created and ousted from coordinating the management of the community radio funded by UNESCO. The forced vote resulted in Patricia Chipungu Todi becoming the new chairperson.
The highpoint of this politically motivated and engineered coup d’état was the new MAMWA chairperson writing the world broadcaster association requesting them to have me removed from the global committee. The reason given for the awkward request was due to the fact that I was no longer chair of MAMWA. The secretariate attempted to no avail that my selection was on account of my contribution to and promotion of community radio culture in Malawi. The new chair and her association insisted.
My removal from the global association led to South Africa having two members on the global broadcaster association.
In appreciating Walter Nyamilandu, the former IG Loti Dzonzi wrote:
“You dared and won. For three years you pursued you dream in FIFA. You have left footprints in the sands of time. You have not failed. You have battle scars, that is a sign of bravery. You have made history country man. You have placed Malawi and Malawi football on the map. Walk with you head high because you are an achiever.”
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