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
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.”