The statesman, girl-child and pornography

Special Commentary :

In the last few days, Malawi and world at large have seen a new side of PresidentBingu wa Mutharika. They have witnessed a contrite Professor Mutharika. In one day, the government under his direction sent not one, but two apologies:

1.       to the United Kingdom for the unfortunate deportation of  High Commissioner Mr  Fergus Cochrane-Dyet and;

2.      to neighbouring Zambia, for the rough and untoward treatment that President Micheal Sata suffered when he was visiting Malawi as a leader of the opposition in Zambia.

On the corruption front, the former General Manager  and assistant general manager of the Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC) are  on remand, awaiting trial for the obscene acquisition of public property in a shady manner. While they are not the only culprits in this scandal, and the public rightly expects more arrests; this is a step in the right direction. The public is hopeful that “Sir” Alex Nampota f Anti Corruption Bureau will round up the rest of the thieving low-lives.

Action girls: Bare-breasts show in front of President Mutharika

Again, at the Mulhako wa Alhomwe gathering it has been reported that the president’s message was markedly different from his recent “I-will-smoke-you-out” and “lets-go-to-war” outbursts. His message, this time around, was one of unity in diversity. He called for co-existence amongst all tribes, saying citizens may speak different languages and belong to many different tribes but they should always remember that they “are Malawians first.”

To put icing on top of the cake, with much happiness, Mutharika has directed that Chancellor College Academic Staff Union (CCASU) acting President Dr. Jessie Kabwila-Kapasula, CCASU legal advisor Dr. Garton Kamchedzera, CCASU Secretary General Franz Amin and the man at the centre of the academic freedom saga, Dr. Blessings Chinsinga should be reinstated without any preconditions.

All these are very commendable we say, though long overdue. If he can continue walking this talk, and take things further with respect to public appointments – the works of his hands will lose the derogatory connotations they assumed recently. These are the words and works of someone who, if he works at it, could be universally accepted as a statesman. He may not surpass his hero the genuine Ngwazi, but nevertheless he could be a statesman all the same.

“It is a good start, your Excellency Professor Bingu wa Mutharika – keep it up, it is not too late,” is our message.

But while Mutharika seems to be working on his image that has of late taken a battering, why are some people bent on tarnishing his image? Take for example, the man of God and Chairperson of the Entertainment Committee of the Mulhako Main Organizing Committee, Rev. Harold Mbedza.

Why should Rev. Mbedza, a man of the collar, parade topless girls flaunting their breasts before the seemingly repentant President Mutharika? Worse, this act of what could arguably pass for flagrant pornography was greeted by a happy looking Mutharika – the man who would be a statesman. To make matters worse, it was beamed live on the public broadcaster MBC TV, and it appears some of it will be aired on DSTV.

While it could be argued that public display of breasts is part of our cultural heritage and all that stuff, conspicuously missing from the bare-breast parade were the president’s and the reverend’s daughters. We are yet to find out if among the bare-breasted girls, was a daughter of any government minister or any high ranking official – but this is doubtful.

If this show of breasts is something that we want to celebrate shouldn’t the first daughter(s); the holy man’s daughter(s); ministers’ daughters and in general, children of the people leading Malawi society and shaping the nation’s future lead the semi-nude parade? Is it too much to ask for leadership by example, or is it because we all know and agree that this show borders on pornography and is demeaning to the participants?

Needless to say, making one step towards statesmanship, if followed by another step in the opposite direction nullifies the effort. In addition, if the step in the wrong direction happens to involve abuse of the hapless and already vulnerable girl child of the poor in Malawi, it smells discrimination and abuse. Our newly “reborn” President will do well to take note of this.


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