Rasta Judah stuns Malawi Speaker with education demand

Ras Judah of the Rastafarian sect, took unawares the Speaker of the National Assembly, Henry Chimunthu-Banda, demanding that concerns raised by the sect, particularly one on education presented to the House about four years ago, be included in the forthcoming November 2012 sitting.

Taking advantage of the international interfaith group that converged at the New Parliament Building in the capital city Lilongwe to present their concerns on HIV and AIDS access to treatment and drugs, particularly on women and children, Judah said Rastas were being
discriminated against.

“We are Malawians and we vote. We participate in the development of this country and this is our country. Yet our children are denied access to public schools simply because of wearing dreads,” he said, calling on the sects’ chants, ‘Jah! Rastafari!’as his followers, including women in colorful religious garb chanted back.

Ras Judah with Speaker of Parliament and religious leaders.-Photo by Patricia Masinga, Nyasa Times

Judah was asking a question, the last on the Speaker’s opportunity, when Chimunthu-Banda’s generosity overwhelmed him to invite the gathering made up of mostly women and school children, called upon the House with their petition ahead of the 2nd Global Race to Save Lives
from HIV and AIDS under the SAVE model initiative.

Countries from across the world are attending the multi-faithful function that will end Friday at the Bingu wa Mutharika International Conference Centre’s (ICC) auditorium.

Calm Chimunthu-Banda acknowledged the sects’ concerns and told Judah to be assured the concern had reached the House.

Judah later told Nyasa Times at the ICC grounds that his group was strategising on how to get at least ten members of its sect into the national assembly so that their views can be respected.

“I am considering to stand as a Member of Parliament (MP) back in my village constituency. We need to be in the House for our voice to be heard, am sure. Otherwise our representatives today cast a deaf ear to our genuine socio-economic concerns. Why should we only send out children to private schools and not government institutions?” he challenged.

He also said the late president Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika had instructed school heads in his home area to allow rasta children in government schools.

“Unfortunately, you may have read in the papers recently that these children were booted out of the schools. What are we, really? Not Malawians?”

Observers at the national assembly when Ras Judah expressed himself said separately ‘it would be chaos if government allowed each and every faith to practice its faith in such near bizarre ways’.

“Imagine government allowing faith groups to do whatever they believe at a school institution. Would would sooner or later have Nazi-like faithfuls also do their stuff in the education sector. There is need for legislation of what can be acceptable and what cannot be,” said one.

Ras Judah posing for Nyasa Times

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