Let me start by emphasising the title of this article. It is not just any other rhetoric. Rather, as this article demonstrates, Bingu has stripped women before, not in private vicinities of hotels and mansions. Rather, he has done that on public podiums where it was beamed live on tellies. As chickens, we applauded something which is haunting us now.
|Mutharika promoted a culture that strips women|
In brief, let me drive you through this disgracing road under which the president breached the Conventions on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which Malawi ratified in 1991. As a synopsis, the CRC is the first legally binding international instrument to children’s rights founded on respect for the human dignity and worth of each individual.
However, the president has gone flat out to subject children and women into sexual exploitation and multiple sexual partnerships may be out of ignorance as he has recently shown his incapacity to govern Malawians in accordance with democratic principles enshrined in the country’s Constitution.
His incapacity to not to respect children’s rights and women’s rights became apparent in a year before the general elections of 2009; in October to be specific.
The venue was Chonde. As he christened the cultural group, Mulhako wa Alhomwe, he also initiated children to probable sexual exploitation. In other words, this Ngwazi of street vendors (as he claims to be) instigated the undressing of women, a behaviour which has struck in his friends in trade. After all birds of the same feathers...
To let the cat out of the bag, as the founder and patron of Mulhako, the Crow of all chickens in Malawi constructively promotes the culture of having children (girls) and women to walk with their breasts out. So when other take up the behaviour and start stripping innocent women in Malawi, I bet you who ignited the practice.They don’t see anything wrong it.
Exploited: Girls forced to strip in the name of culture that Mutharika
promoted. This photo has been edtited to avoid further exploitation
Indeed, it can be claimed that culture is good and should be maintained. This is why Mutharika founded Mulhako to promote the culture of this group of people who migrated from Mocambiques and settled in what is called the MTL belt.
Mutharika has never refused that he is from Mocambique where he is the king, despite being the president here in Malawi. Of course, I am not questioning his citizenship to be the president in Malawi, because only the Akafula (dwarves) would legitimately claim as natural citizens of this land. We are all naturalised citizens just like Peter Mutharika Thom is to the United States.
Before wondering astray, let us go back to our story. I believe most of you have now created the image of those bare breasted young girls dancing seductively at Chonde in 2008, 2009, 2010, and last year October.
And I believe with that imagination, you are also aware of the principle of chinamwali or reed dance. The overarching goal of the practice is to coax men for marriage. The dance is set as signals for the young girls involved that they are mature enough to be turned into marriage materials.
These innocent children are publicly paraded to sell sex to the willing bidders who choose the most attractive (just like what happens in Swaziland, where king Swati chooses a bride after a parade of many girls).
A small survey set since last year October revealed one man can have sex with as many children as possible at a night after the event. This is called kulawa (as in wine-testing).
After all, for you to buy something you have to test many similar things or go on window shopping. By end of the day, children are subjected to sexual transmitted infections including HIV. After all, no condoms are sold other than gondolosi (local Viagra).
Mutharika shows his swagga with his wife who
was not allowed to strip and participate in the
What can be concluded from this assertion is that by promoting that culture, the President has been encouraging child prostitution and sexual harassment, which as a country, we ratified to avoid. After all, the study found that this culture depicts women as sexual objects (which promote gender based violence) just like similar practices called kolowa kufa practices and kusasa fumbi ndi kuchosa ufiti whose evils are well documented by the Ministry of Gender.
If you are a man, just imagine what happens in your trousers when you look at a girl with all her breasts uncovered, and dancing like a stripper in the bar. I have a question for you if you are a woman; can you walk or dance with your breasts before everyone’s gaze at daylight? Even the First Lady, Calister Mutharika, cannot do this.
The breasts are categorised as private parts, for private hands and eyes (until the times when breastfeeding). This is why even night queens at my Kamba neighbourhood do not walk around with their bare breasts.
This is what civilisation has taught us. But we have all stood aside and given in to archaic cultures which Malawi has been fighting to eliminate. But by virtue of the president being the patron of Mulhako where such a practice is condoned, it can be inferred here that he is supporting such undignified practice wherever it occurs, be it among the lhomwes, ngoni, tumbukas, or chewas. Because the children, coming from poor households, might as well be attracted by the presence of brown khaki envelopes containing money and is received after each event. As such, we can categorise this practice as child prostitution which is simply defined by UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child as “the use of a child in sexual activities for remuneration or any other form of consideration”.
However, much as I know that Bingu is not keen at keeping international conventions as we saw his reluctance of hosting Al Bashir who is wanted by the International Criminal Court. May be he does not even care that Malawi ratified the Convention of the Rights of the Child.
But for the records, when the one party regime ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, we accepted that Malawi children will be accorded every right to protect them from harmful cultures, abusive and exploitative practice. This convention is a legally binding document which if taken seriously, the president could be held responsible and taken to the International Court for crimes against humanity on matters of child protection.
As such, I was surprised to see DPP spin doctors castigating street vendors when they stripped women. I believe that together with those civil societies, the concerned women should have started their campaign by castigating the Street Vendor Number 1 for his role in publicly striping women. But alas; they choose the lesser evil, leaving the big fish sipping whisky and waiting for October 2012. This is the official month where Malawians can undress Malawian women in the name of culture. This event is beamed on local and international channels for everyone to see.
I know some DPP dunderheads and mulhako people would castigate me that I don’t have a right to poke my nose in their cultures. Honestly, I agree. I don’t have any right whatever. I should just let the sleeping dogs lie.
But hold on a sec. I have a duty to protect children who don’t have a choice. To protect them from themselves and from people like the president. He has supported a culture which degrades the human dignity of young girls because they cannot make their own choice, by virtue of their age.
In this regard, the laws of Malawi stipulate that anyone standing idle when others are engaging in an illegal practice is her/himself breaking the law. I refuse to stand down.
Unless the president, as immoral as he might have shown in running the economy, goes back to his civility and declares that reed dance will not be part of the Mulhako Cerebrations and that it should be banned in every culture practiced in Malawi.
I will just not stand down. I will hold my grounds and write again to breathe senses in the brains of the President and every Malawian who thinks cultures which exploit children should be tolerated. By the way, the laws of Malawi asserts that such conducts like reed dance fall under public indecency or conduct likely to breach peace as the behaviour that vendors have adopted from the president have shown. We all have a duty to challenge evil practices even when those involved in it don’t see anythi0ng wrong in it.
Criminal prosecution for anyone who facilitates sexual exploitation of children
If the president can do it; I mean, if the Street Vendor Number One, the Ngwazi of Street vendors can articulately promote stripping of women, then what can stop his subjects, the vendors to do just the same? A question for reflection to all those who castigated the vendors but do not see anything wrong when Bingu does just the same and even the worst of it.
As a civilised people, it is high time we challenge this practice and challenge the president for making fools of women. This is archaic practice.
If we don’t challenge it in the name of culture, it implies that even the Hyena practices and Kulowa Kufa should be promoted because they are but just our cultures.
UNICEF Malawi would agree with me that sexual harassment in any form is the worst degradation in human society. How could I forget, we are a society of chickens where the state president strips women on public. For those who want to support this cause and restore the integrity of children; and for those who want to castigate me in any other ways, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org !!! Please write.
About the author
Using a pen name because Malawi is not as democratic as it claims. People have been arrested and some people like Robert Chasowa, have been murdered for questioning the president. I don’t want to die by the hand of a man, but through natural causes. I am also working with the government on some projects, so I am afraid my contract could be declared contracto-non-granta and be offered to Mulli Brothers…
Note: This article was written before the tragic death of Mutharika and published on Nyasatimes. But since Malawi has a woman president, we are yet to see how she will trend on cultures which sexually exploit women.