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Oh by gosh, by golly, and by gee

We’re going to one of the world’s poorest countries

We’ll appreciate how very fortunate are we

When we trek through Malawi


As poor as Malawi may be

The nickname given to this country

Is “The Warm Heart of Africa”

Tells more what it’s known for


Originally settled in the 10th century                         

by Bantu groups who were migrating

Then in the 1600’s Portugese traders and military

And in the 1800’s Indian Ocean Slave trade

And 'bout 20,000 people were enslaved

Then David Livingston and missionaries

Complicated the country’s history


By 1891 the British Central African Protectorate was proclaimed

In 1907,  Nyasaland was what the protectorate was renamed

A powerful opponent of the CAF was Hastings Kamuzu Banda 

He mobilized nationalist sentiments. How grand, ah!

And Malawi became the semi-independent

Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland


Then in 1961 Banda became Prime Minister

The Malawi Congress Party  (MCP) - nothing sinister

Gained a majority; then in1963-64, the protectorate was dissolved

And so, Nyasaland independence started to be resolved


Under Queen Elizabeth II, it was renamed Malawi

Full independence was granted in 1970

From then to 1974, it was a totalitarian state

Highly repressive autocracy was the great

For President Hastings Kamuzu Banda

“Follow my rules” was his mantra

No armed conflict &  progress was attained

During Banta’s  autocratic reign


Agriculture as well as industrial & business development

Then a new constitution was put in place which meant

No longer would presidency be for life

This added a bit of political strife

Politics everywhere are challenging, aren’t they?

So, you can imagine what it might be like in Malawi

Economic challenges are hard to overcome

Outside aid has decreased and then some

The US has active branches of the Peace Corps,

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and more

An Agency for International Development in Malawi

And even more support is  US sent.  Dependency?

The Department of Health and Human Services

It’s all helpful, so don’t get nervous


Education is for all; but as age increases                 

The number of females attending decreases

Although inheritance rights may be equal

The wage gap for women is more than unequal


July 6, is National Independence Day

Malawi’s capital is Lilongwe (above) , and hey

Melania Trump visited there

Watch this video to become more aware


As if politics aren’t wild enough

The capital has some more interesting stuff

The Lilongwe Wildlife Centre we don’t want to miss

Here animals may be tamer than any  politician we may hiss


Blantyre is the industrial and commercial centre                         

Manufacturing and commerce are major employment generators. 

As you might have imagined or know

English is Malawi’s language official

However, over half the population speaks Chichewa 

In fact, elementary school is even taught in Chichewa


Malawi is a haven for refugees

They place a strain on the economy

Folks from Rwanda and Mozambique

People looking for work and food to eat

The flow of refugees  encouraged foreign aid

From the World Bank and other  countries


Agriculture accounts for 35% of the GDP

An agricultural research station is in the country

Tobacco, sugar cane, cotton and corn

potatoes, tea, cattle, goats & sorghum


Farmer meetings are open to the country

Even  children attend, as you can see

Human rights and corruption remain an issue

Women are particularly vulnerable to abuse

Malawi has the highest rate of child marriage

Although the age for child marriage was raised from 15 to 18

Just a couple of years ago, in 2015

Quite inadequate is legal protection

Due to “turning the blind eye” and  corruption


Old traditions, like old habits, never die

What you see on the left with your eye

Are Nine 10-year-old boys of the Yao tribe

Participating in circumcision

And rites of initiation


Malawian scientists are so widely published

That their reputations have flourished

Now the country has four public universities

Malawi University of Science and Technology

Was established less than a decade ago

It’s pioneering research on ethanol

Biomedical research, fuel and technology

Launched Information and Communication Technology


Public hospitals located regionally and centrally

Offer health care and medicines for free. 

Also there are private hospital facilities

Offer health care and medicines for a fee

The goal Malawi has is to promote health,

Prevent, reduce and cure disease

Reduce premature death - many will be  pleased

Family planning services are offered

Not free, but priced so many can afford


As well-intentioned as these health care goals may be

Malawi is not yet reducing maternal mortality

And, although promoting issues related to gender equality

Female genital mutilation still occurs in some communities


Like all over the African continent

We’ll find rhinos, hippos and elephants

Monkeys, buffaloes, and big cats

Birds of prey, falcons and yes, even bats


Lake Malawi is  one of the richest food sources

A drop in the lake’s water level is worrisome, of course

One cause is overfishing

Just to eat, people are wishing

More than 1000 colourful cichlids. 

Just as beautiful as Canadian orchids

Pollution deforestation, and climate change

Contribute to declining  water level range


All the world over, people demonstrate creativity

Art, music, dance, literature poetry

Also, people enjoy competition and sport

Teams often have names that support

Their desire to frighten opponents

Names such as these:

Mighty Wanderers, Big Bullets, Silver Strikers,

Blue Eagles, and Mighty Tigers.


Are you getting hungry? Shall we find place to eat?

Tea and fish are very popular and dessert is sweet

And I’ve got an incredible story to tell ya

About a man who called himself a “hyena”     

Maybe you saw this in the BBC documentary

About 45-year-old Eric Aniva.  Did you see?


Evidently, he was paid by the families of women and girls

To engage with their children in traditional cleansing rituals

These rituals last three days usually

Between $4 and $7 US were  his fees

Still common practice in some of the country’s parts

Families want the best for their daughters with all their hearts.

Once girls, even 11-and-12-year-olds, begin their menstrual lives

The cleansing ritual is engaged to train the girls to be good wives     

Aniva had sex with over 100 adolescents and widows

But!  He had HIV, a fact he failed to disclose           


After an international outcry, President Peter Mutharika

Ordered the arrest of Eric Aniva

He was convicted even though he pleaded not guilty

Sentenced to 2 years of prison with forced labour for

his lack of integrity

Women activist called this sentence much too lenient

But he was paid, so who really knows just who was disobedient. 


Once we’ve digested this and our fish and tea

We can go and see just why SLF is so necessary 

The off to Tanzania we’ll hike

Bet you’d rather ride a bike…


An interesting story to explore:

When Bingu wa Mutharika was elected in 2004

Rivals charged him with election fraud

But he was re-elected.  No! Don’t praise the lord!

About human rights he was dismissive all around

Hence protests rose and many people shot down

In April of 2012, Mutharika passed away

His death was kept a secret for a couple of days

Vice President, Joyce Banda (no relation to Hastings Banda) Became president until 2014

One of the few female president Africa has seen

But she was the founder the People’s Party

An educator and grassroots women’s rights activist, you see.

Pledged to repeal laws criminalizing Homosexuality


Forbes identified her as the world’s 40th most powerful woman

In 2014, BBC included her in the 100 women

Her initiatives are many:

The  National Association of Business Women (NABW),  Young Women Leaders Network,

Hunger Project. And her beat goes on!


In 2012, she lost the election to the Peter Mutharika

Yes, he is the late president’s brother

Election annulled in 2019. Irregularities and fraud were noted

A new election held, and people voted


Lazarus Chakwera was elected in 2020

And assumed Presidential duties

Lots of challenges face this nation

Healthcare, environmental protection, education



More about Malawi
from Tina:

SLF Projects in Malawi


Standard 6 and 7 girls and their teacher Mrs. Nyorongo Ulongwe


At the United Nations


Centre for Alternatives for Victimised Women and Children (CAVWOC)

Kelton Bolokonya is Director.  Kelton writes: “We are a social service organisation formed in 1997 and incorporated in 1998.  We support the rights of women and children in Malawi.  We work to empower abused, vulnerable and marginalised women and children, in order to provide them with knowledge counsel and assistance in regard to their rights, that will transform them from the state of being victimized and vulnerable into socially and economically empowered members of society.”

Women and children in Malawi face a lot of challenges in terms of inequalities, physical and sexual abuse, forced marriage and economic deprivation. CAVWOC believes a society free from gender-based violence is possible in Malawi. 

In order to achieve this, CAVWOC provided the following to the communities it works in: Capacity building of community structures and justice providers to reduce occurrences of GBV; access to knowledge of and utilization of sexual and reproductive health services ; promotion of quality, safe and equitable education for girls; promotion and use of safe and portable water and uptake of standard sanitary and hygiene practices and support in increase of household food security and income.

Centre For Human Rights And Rehabilitation (Advocacy)

The website describes their vision of a vibrant Malawi culture which embraces the values of democracy and human rights. CHRR was founded in February 1995 by former student exiles who returned home to the promises of a new democracy in 1994.  The organization strives to promote equity and equality among the people regardless of gender, race, religion, language and skin colour, by taking full recognition of the UN Declaration of Human Rights to which Malawi is a signatory.  

They offer civic education to the general public on democracy, human rights and good governance, including civic and voter education during the 1999 and 2000 Elections respectively.  They  create awareness of community safety and empowerment and constitutional rights.  They give training in democracy and human rights, across  the academic realm –to  professionals in media and arts, teachers, and public officials.  They produce public awareness materials and newsletters.  They carry out advocacy and lobbying for policy and legal reform. They have conducted and produced research reports in various topics around human rights and governance Issues.  They network with both local and international organizations through participation in various forums and joint programs.  At the local level, CHRR has been involved in networking through the Human Rights Consultative Committee, Church /NGO consortium, and Prison Advisory Services.  At the International Level, CHRR has worked closely with Southern Africa Human Rights Trust, African Commission on Human Rights and Amnesty International.

Ekwendeni Hospital HIV/AIDS Programme   
Webster Moyo is the Programme Director 


Ekwendeni is largely surrounded by tobacco growing farms.  It has a high HIV/AIDS prevalence rate as it is a favourite resting place for truck drivers travelling along the M1 road between Malawi and Tanzania to Kenya and beyond.  The general hospital began in the 1890s as a ministry of the Free Church of Scotland.  It developed the HIV/AIDS programme to share God’s love by working with communities and vulnerable families who are stricken by HIV/AIDS and living in poverty, so they are able to- overcome poverty by improving their livelihoods.


Helping vulnerable families to produce their own food through providing them with maize seed and fertilizer for winter irrigation cropping. Distribution of clothes, sweaters and knitted blankets to newborn babies at maternity

Community facilitator providing bucket, basin and soap to OVC family for them to use for hand washing to prevent COVID-19.



Men As Protectors in Nsanje District

Friends Of AIDS Support Trust (FAST)

FAST is an AIDS service organization registered with the government of Malawi in 1997 .  They offer treatment, care and social support. They focus on orphans and vulnerable children. FAST also runs community-based Child Care ce


National Association for People Living With HIV and AIDS in Malawi

NAPHAM was established in 1993 by a small group of people living with HIV who observed that their needs were not being met.   They fight against stigma and discrimination, advocate for supportive environments for PLHIV, and facilitate localised support groups for those who are infected and directly affected by HIV and AIDS.  NAPHAM currently has an estimated membership of over 60,000 across the country including 14,300 children under 18.

They run five main programs: prevention, care and support, advocacy, livelihood, membership anchor and capacity building.  The key activities are HIV and AIDS education outreach, psychosocial support through group therapy sessions, nutritional support, lobbying for change, and facilitation of livelihood activities such as livestock rearing, crop production, and small and medium enterprises like tailoring. 

They started by targeting adults, but now child therapy sessions are conducted for the younger children aged between 5 and 11 years, who come with their parents to group therapy.  Child-headed households and children affected by AIDS and children living with HIV are also identified and supported with food supplements, and any other basic support that is available at the time.  The older orphans who have not completed schooling are linked to bursaries and others to vocational training or apprenticeship and supported with financial support and toolkits to start income generating activities .  Those receiving ART  (antiretroviral therapy) in health centres that are very far away are facilitated with transport money under some projects.



Nancholi Youth Organization (NAYO)

OUR MISSION: To promote and protect living standards of the youth from across the social, economic and political spectrum and fight against all social issues that lead to the spread of HIV and AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections

OUR VISION: To create a forum that works towards promoting behavior-change in youths regarding HIV/AIDS and other social-economic issues that affect the youth and community.

NAYO’s programme areas work together to empower youths and the larger community in the Nancholi area. Our programs focus on the following areas :

Early Child Development, Education, Food Security, HIV/AIDS, Malaria Prevention, Nutrition Support, Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), and Youth Leadership Development​.


Rights Institute for Social Empowerment (RISE) Dorothy Sulamoyo Phiri is Director of Programmes.

Dorothy writes, “RISE is a Civil Society Organization dedicated to the advancement of equality, promotion of social justice and the respect of human dignity in Malawi.  Our role is contributing to the creation of a human rights-based culture in Malawi; through advocacy and direct empowerment of women, girls, young people, children and their communities - by building their capabilities so that they are able to advocate for the promotion of their human rights, protect themselves and be able to actively participate in the governance, policy formulation and decision-making processes, including democratization in Malawi.

Our main purpose is promotion and protection of human rights for marginalized women and girls to ensure they are protected from all forms of gender-based violence, have access to sexual and reproductive health Information, services and resources and are empowered to actively participate in the political and economic spheres.  (SRHR = Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights)

Our mandate is creating individual and community environments where the rights of women and girls will be protected and where women and girls will achieve universal access to family planning, adolescents' sexuality education, safe childbirth, safe abortion, HIV and SRHR in emergencies.

Our vision is a society where women and girls are free from all forms of violence and have universal access to SRHR, safe childbirth and safe abortion resources and services.

Our Mission is to create an autonomous, skilled, inclusive, and coordinated women-led civil society with power, capability, and resilience to achieve an integrated approach to gender equality, to tackle the combined disadvantages girls and women experience in their villages.”

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