One of the two main Saturday ( 29th of October 2011) weekend papers, carried a very sad story of a 15 year old girl being raped by a mentally re-arranged vagabond aided and cajoled by vendors in Mzuzu.
The vendors provided a cordon for the mad man to rape the girl and when he finished, (according to the report), the vendors cheered on and no police or citizen came to her aid. She was seen walking away dazed and confused while vendors laughed their hearts out.
When I read this story, I thought would Kaliati/Ntaba/Vuwa, any preacher on Saturday, or Sunday take their time in Mzuzu, let alone, Malawi religious churches and mosques (come Friday or on their radios/TV’s) to rebuke vendors who provide CSO’s and political parties (ruling and opposition) much needed support when it comes to political moral and immoral support?
Chasowa may have died bravely in counter espionage playing a game that (thank God) exposed some of our police’s dirty Russian Roulette games, but this girls is an innocent 15 year old. Probably a poor man’s daughter, an orphan and child family head, or Sunday school kid who may have irritated the vendors for refusing to sleep with one of them.
Whether, it is vendors, Ana a masikini (children of street blind beggars as vendors also accuse them) or loafers, they all are one manning the towns because the so called genuine vendors should have stopped this. The police should have had informers on the streets who should have informed on those involved. If informers are everywhere and they are guzzling our coffers, why not on the streets? For the protection of the main investors of Malawi economy and tax payer, the bwanas of all of us in public service, who are us tax payers.
I mourn for the girl and her parents, church and relatives. The last two demonstrations CILIC took part in before it started folding up (not completely finished yet) on such activities due to lack of support was ; 1) when a 5 years old was found in the an outside open roofed dirty shack of a bathroom (standard for a poor family in rural and peri urban), torn apart, head bashed and breeding to death. In my speech after the march, I asked Malawians and religious groups to have all clergy involved in such a funeral and to make them public.
By the way, the child was found with her tiny womb reaped off, and she just lived long enough (4-5days) for God to have exposed this particular evil of Manase village/CI and Malawi. The white nurse I found nursing her was mad that I brought the media, and I was incensed. And; 2) earlier on when a Brazilian Dapp volunteer /young woman was raped on Chipembere Highway near 9/11 and Lambert in close similar circumstances.
I still have a witness who told me she was raped but was afraid what those thugs can do to him if he came out as a witness which meant pointing out the vendors. In this case, 20 vendors and their chair came to my office first thing in the morning trying to intimidate me and saying they didn’t do it but ‘ana a masikini’, and if I was still bent on tarnishing their image, they would deal with me and I told them to go ahead.
Worse still, when the president came back from Japan on weekend before the march, he said on arrival, he will deal with whoever is troubling his vendors. The police said the vendors just harassed her and physically assaulted her, but the pictures she gave to one of CILIC lawyers and my source said a different story. I have been in touch with her as she is on UN Scholarship hoping to come back to Malawi on UN Mission. Before she heard of our protest march a day before, she vowed not to ever to set foot on Malawi soil, may be even Africa. Our action was the only counselling she ever received in this warm heart of devilish Africa.
By the way, Head of an NGO coalition, while sympathising commented on phone which I made that the girl had put on miniskirt which provoked the vendors as he suspected she is the one he saw that morning. Thanks to the Osman’s of Capital FM, Cover Bhima and family and others who turned up for the March. I had to hire ana a masikin/market carry bag boys using my personal funds to beef up my march. Its legal and its allowed if you do it for moral reasons and your action is not against state as the back lash may endanger young people. I have had all the training and experience one needs for this, coupled with my anger, passion, disgust and total disregard for the hypocrisy of Malawian culture and sometimes hiding behind religion. I think I got some moral support help from an Anglican and a few clergy.
A CCAP expatriate clergy did not get the time right or we changed our plans forgot to tell him. A bambo Gamba, may have sent me some Balaka women because when I did this, I talked and sent messages to all to give them a chance to get involved in justice. Remember the raped concubine of a prophet in Israel in our Bible? She died by morning and when the man of God discovered he cut her up into body parts and sent it to all Israel calling for all males to come to war against the perpetuators? And Bible story of the raped Dinah and her brother’s revenge? We do not want to kill but we can expose and stop this.
I have failed to look for funding or find partners to do study on body parts, and these type of rapes which seems to be a ritual. I am told its very dangerous t and that people die trying to expose this. Remember the KCN visiting Botswana lecture who was sexually abused by vendors in Lilongwe in Lilongwe some time back and media made fun of me when I suggested we can march bare breasted as a sign of morning ( as when a breast feeding mother norms for her dead child with painful gorged breast)? So many things I want to remember, but its late.
As Malawi degenerates into political and economical mess, so may other things will be neglected, and probably NGO officers and E/D’s who will never turn into practical real activists will take human rights activism as a mere winding up and talk show/ paper debate CSO debating saga that acting and active risk taking job.
I am appealing to Mzuzu leaders and clergy to do something about this. I do not think our journalists would sink that low to write a false story, so wake up guys and do something.
- The author, Emmie Chanika ia an activist consultant and writer/documentalist