12/18/2015

With friends like Palmer, why do homosexuals need enemies?



If you trust the gospel of activists – both for and against homosexuality – Malawians are not homosexuals and they do not love homosexuals. Not only do they not love homosexuals but they hate them. They hunt and hound them and set fire to their private parts while they hang crucified on an upside down cross.

I have followed the recent argument. The one that has come after the Police arrested two men in Lilongwe for what they say is homosexual sex.

It is said that after arrest on 7 December, the two were subjected to tests to determine whether they really had had homosexual sex.

The result of the test? Well, it has been swept and swallowed by the debates that have come after the arrest.

While Malawians took to social media to fire shots at the two who were nabbed for contravening the country’s suspended laws that criminalise homosexuality, there came US Ambassador to Malawi – Virginia Palmer – aiming to outshout the mob that was calling for the lynching of the two.

Understanding Palmer

It is easy to understand Palmer – or her intentions. Coming from a place where people like Martin Luther made such great oratory speeches that denounced all those who kept quiet in the face of injustice, it is only expected of her to speak at the appearance of such injustice. 

So, speaking she did. In one Facebook post, she managed to express her displeasure with the way government had handled the arrest. Not only that, with the same post she managed to attract comments – most of them ridicule – than any other politician has ever garnered in recent months. That, in Malawi, is by no means an enviable feat. 

Malawians, a not-so-conservative-nor-religious lot that has prided itself in being a friendly and warm people, have almost all descended on Palmer. The not so radical even are calling for her leave.

It is an overreaction, I think. An exaggeration of the way they hate homosexuals.

You can disagree with me, of course, if you subscribe to the gospel I used in opening this entry. 

In my opinion, I think the anger is driven by the approach that Palmer has used. Sadly, this is the approach that most – if not all – who are aiming for the legalisation of homosexuality are using: threats. 

But threats…? 

Is homosexual African or not?

I know the answers to this might vary but my opinion is that homosexual is African more than all these religions that are being used to challenge homosexuality. 

In Malawi, the Chichewa word for homosexuality is Mathanyula. Compare and contrast with what Christianity or Islam are called in Chichewa, these two have no Chichewa equivalent. They have corrupt derivations. Now, between the two, which one is more Malawian? 

So, the basic argument is that homosexuality happened – maybe even before the advent of western cultures – and has been a part of us. However, the majority of people now are looking at it as a foreign concept, an attack on their culture. Reason? 

It is the way the west has decided to move the homosexuality agenda.

Unlike most other agendas that the west has moved, the homosexuality agenda has been moved with threats, intimidations and bullying. It is as if it is the only thing that matters in the whole world. 

Consider this:

When Tionge Chimbalanga and Steve Monjeza were arrested over a same-sex engagement they held in Blantyre, what was the reaction? The sky fell on earth. The UN General Secretary, Ban Ki Moon, suddenly discovered that there was some Malawi that needed his visit. Contrast to how he is reacting to the slaughter ongoing in Burundi. In the Burundi case, his office keeps churning one statement after another announcing obvious facts that a genocide is being prepared while the world watches. He certainly thinks that does not warrant a personal visit.

This approach, needless to say, has hardly been successful. It is strange why it keeps being pursued when its fruits are in the public domain – and they are rotten.

The law is not enough

Somehow, I understand the approach taken by Palmer and co in advancing the rights of homosexuals. Their target is not the people in the villages, it is the law makers and those who have power to influence it.

This approach, nevertheless, has its own downside.

In a country such as Malawi where the instruments for enforcing the law are as weak as they are insufficient, working tirelessly to pass a law that decriminalise homosexuality will in the long run not benefit any person – not even the homosexuals.

The problem here is not just the law. It is the attitudes, the beliefs, the myths and misconceptions. The law might even be a footnote to the problem. 

I would tell you that in this country it is illegal to accuse one of witchcraft. Yet, that has not stopped communities from lynching their old on accusations of witchcraft. It has not stopped conmen, masquerading as men of religion, stealing from their faithful (not faith-fool) on the grounds that they could chase the demon of witchcraft. For all these, I dare say, the arrests are as good as non-existent.

This is the tragedy that homosexual rights might meet when forced down a people. The law might pass but the implementation will not be there.

Expecting people to accept someone as homosexual simply because there is a law that says so is simple in the US where the Police can enforce that law. In the jungle where the Police are always looking for political opponents to the powers that be or searching for daily bread, enforcing a law to protect homosexuals is a joke.

Way forward…

I am hesitant to imagine there is a way forward that satisfies all parties involved. I even doubt there is a compromise that either party might have to do and move together on this issue.

The problem started with driving the agenda itself. The threats, the lies (I do not believe Steve Monjeza was/is gay – I hold that he was hired to act), the unwavering defense were all wrong! 

Sadly, even the current actors are still using the same tricks that failed. Palmer is a perfect example to this.

I think there was a way she could have broached the subject without raising chaos as she has done. Could she not have had  a private audience with the President, like Ban Ki Moon did, and let the world simply witness her persuasion and dialogue - or she did that?

I do not know what her aim was in going public over that. I do not even think that her approach served the interests of the people whose rights she claims to be fighting. Now, a people that were getting over the Aunt Tio saga and let homosexuals do their things in the privacy of their bedroom, have all again remembered they are religious and homosexuality is not in line with any religion.

Need I say what happens when people think their religion needs to be defended?  

7/16/2015

Africa's descent into dictatorship?


Two neighbours, in Africa, make interesting news lately.

While next door President Nkuruzinza hangs almost by a thread as he crushes his people to fit into his power hungry plans, in the other house President Kagame almost could have rubbed off his citizens the wrong way if he had accepted the term limits of the constitution.

The Rwandan constitution, like most other African constitutions, apparently suggests that a President should have a maximum of two seven-year (others it's five) term limits. Now, the curtains appear to be drawing on Kagame as his two term limits come to an end in less than two years' time. But, his people, have said not yet.

In the wake of the Parliament endorsing Kagame's plans to hold on, the voices of reason or confusion (depending on the part you are sitting on) have arisen again. Kagame, the hero whom most of Africa has come to hold with a regard they could only offer Mandela, has suddenly slumped into a villain. The most brutal actually are likening him to Mugabe - the Zimbabwean polarising figure.

There was no better time for Kagame to be in a position he is in such as this. For, next to Rwanda is Burundi where people have risen up to challenge President Pierre Nkurunziza's bid to continue misleading them.

As Kagame got a 3 million plus endorsement of Rwandans who see nobody outside the figure of Kagame to keep holding the torch for them, a number that is yet to be quantified for statistical purposes but nevertheless bigger has denied Nkurunziza the same generosity. And, this number, has laid down their lives just so that Nkurunziza's greed is tamed.

If Kagame had decided to step down at the end of his constituational mandate without any hullabaloo, you can bet the pressure could have been on Nkurunziza to follow suit. Now, with his decision to flirt with power just one more term apparently has cast him in the same light as Nkurunziza. Nkurunziza the man who goes to town riding a bicycle, playing football, smiling and waving the Bible, while his nation burns.

This Nkurunziza has now come to be said in the same breath with Kagame. Kagame who world over has(or had) been hailed as a statesman. A leader of not just words but action. One of the new generation of African leaders. Like Ian Khama of Botswana. Not Mugabe of Zimbabwe.

However, the people pulling the two into this inglorious comparison are deliberately rubbing off the doormat of memory this obvious fact in the role of the people in the subsequent third term bids.

I know there is a fallacious reasoning that allowing Kagame to get away with a third term is allowing Buhari of Nigeria, Mutharika of Malawi, Zuma of South Africa, Lungu of Zambia, Sall of Senegal and all the other leaders to do the same. I have heard this argument countless times. The ending, to that fallacious argument, has been that Africa now is breeding a new group of dictators: hungry for power, at any cost.

This argument is tempting, especially when we remember that Uganda has Museveni who has forgotten what it means to not be a President, Zimbabwe has Mugabe whose story is well known, Cameroon has Biya, Gambia has Jammeh and well...there must be others to add to this list. Considering the history of Africa as well it appears this worry is genuine.

However, one question I think is important as we attempt to pass a judgment should be: for whom is democracy supposed to serve?

My basic knowledge of democracy is that it is a government for the people and by the people. I know the illusions embedded in this definition and I know the refinements that have been done over the years to this wholesale and vague definition that is almost a lie in its claims.

Nevertheless, going by that definition, should we not say Africa has started to define its own operational democracy in the case of Rwanda?

Now, I must concede that Kagame is not popular to everybody in the country. But, that is the case with governments world over. There are always some who are against your policies, some who think life would be better minus you. But, the presence of opposition does not invalidate the legitimacy of a government or its popularity.

In my opinion, if that opposition is that widespread as in the case of Burundi, one really must cease and desist. And leave. This, eventually, is a different understanding from the books that are read by Pierre Nkurunziza.

Rwanda's case, I opine, however has presented us with an opportunity to evaluate our democracy. Perhaps it is time we accept the limitations of the constitution and agree that it is just a brainless and unemotional piece of paper subject to dance to the winds of change prevalent at that time.

I mean, do we get to fire a performing President and have him replaced with an incompetent hallucinator who confuses his hallucinations for dreams simply because a piece of paper says it is time for the performer to step aside?

By this question, however, I am not beginning to presuppose that among a population of over a million then there is only one competent and able person. That will be a gross lie. An overblown argument, fallacious in its own accord. But, there is a reason why a company retains the same experienced person for years before letting them quit.

Taking my opinion wholesale has its own traps. We might end up having Nkurunzizas riding on that argument while they drag countries to their death. That will be unfortunate. It is, apparently, for the same reason that those thinking Kagame should have just thrown in the towel are justified to argue thus.

In a continent in which ruling is mostly by terror and elections are rigged you would not justify people's calling for your stay to be genuine (except when they are 3 million against a population of 11 million, me thinks, with the voices that criticize you swallowed into the abyss of fear in the diaspora).

Apparently, arguing that if there is anybody unhappy with the leader will defeat them at polls is untenable as well. These systems, broken and adulterated as they are,  present a challenge as their reliability is illusional. They cannot be used to redefine democracy.

That is why this third term, maybe noble among most Rwandans, might just be a creation of an excuse by corrupt power hungry leaders to cling to power.   

6/21/2015

She is no longer beautiful

Somebody took her. You did not know until today. A few hours ago.

She left, five years ago. You moved on. She moved on too. At first you had thought you would not but when you kept calling and hit voicemail and she never called back, you gave up. You said you would try forgetting her for a week. It worked. Two weeks. It worked. Before you knew it, her number was deleted.

You met her once, in the supermarket. She was with a friend. Female. She smiled, a thin smile, and said 'hi'. Then quickly faced away. You said 'hi' back. You wanted to make a long conversation. You stopped. She walked on. Laughing. Hard and louder. Not into the ears of her friend. Into the vacuum she must have been sure you were occupying.

You felt bad, again, after a long time. Because of her.

"I only wanted to be kind," you had later told a friend.

Seriously,  you just wanted to be kind. You just wanted to catch up  with an old friend. Exchange a greeting and all.  You never wanted to resurrect anything. You just wanted to show her that there are no ill feelings you harbour. She thought otherwise. That is why she walked away. Laughing.

For her, the animosity was fresh. In her eyes, you were still the loser, mad at being dumped. She did not know.

She did not know that at this time you were happily seeing another one. A fourth year criminology student. A lover whose voice awoke your feelings the time you had buried them. At the supermarket, actually, you were at her insistence. She was to join you 30 minutes later.

"Visit those electrical shops first and then I will join you," she had said on the phone minutes before. 

But her, the ex, thought you had not recovered. So, she said a 'hi' through a thin smile. Facing away, almost. Laughing as she went. As if in mockery. Actually, in mockery.

That was the last time you met her. It was the last time you talked about her. With the friend.

"I met her today," you had not said her name. You never said her name to him.

The friend read it. He was unemotional when asking you if you talked. He knew you better. He knew you had moved on.

You had explained it to him. The way she said 'hi'. You  actually said she threw a 'hi' as one would throw at a dog that is dogged by  flies. You picked it, like a beggar. And, yes, you wanted more. She walked away.

"You shouldn't have wasted your time," your friend said..

You told him you just wanted to be kind. He laughed. Not like her. He asked what kindness would you have for her.

"You just wanted her to catch a glimpse of your life, that you are happy without her. And than her."

Somehow, you thought what he said was the truth. But you dismissed it. You had moved on. You were happy. You were in love. You were just being kind.

But, she had dismissed your kindness. Her actions showed she had misinterpreted it.

You let her wander away from your mind. You clicked the 'unfriend' button on Facebook at the insistence of your girlfriend. She had said somebody had told her the two of you were secretly communicating. She did not want to see her on your friend's list again. You had obliged.

She was out. And far away. Even your girlfriend knew she was out, you suspected, but she only wanted to cause trouble. It was a way of defending herself from the accusations you were making to her concerning the classmate she fondly called 'darling'. The one she would leave you for a year later. The next day of which your ex, the one you met at the supermarket, would visit again.

She does not come to your house. She does not call your number. She appears on your timeline. On Sunday.

You are drunk. You are not sure really whether you are drunk. Or sober. You had five if not six bottles. You feel sleepy. You are going through Facebook. Watching but not commenting. Observing but not liking.

You are just scrolling through when you bump on her...

Another man calls her his. There are 6 photos of her, alone, and another 2 of them, together. Holding hands. Smiling.

You zoom the photos. You look at her. The smile in the photo they are together. It feels empty. Just a mouth stretched void of any emotion.

You wonder if something has changed in her. You click next. It is one of the photos she is in alone, puffing her hair backwards. A ghost stares into your eyes. A zombie. A skeleton tampered with by patches of flesh. She is supposed to be smiling. But, this is not a smile. This is something.

Again, you think, something has changed in her. Next.

She is in it with him. A handsome man. And a ghost.

"She has changed," you speak to the biting coldness of June in your bachelor sitting-room in Blantyre, Malawi.

"She is not the same."

Next.

Alone. She comes. A beautiful poetic caption under it. She is seeing a poet now, you discover. Her childhood dream. You remember how she had always complained that your messages were not exciting. Not romantic.

"How should they be?" you had asked after the one you had stolen on the internet had backfired.

"They should be something...I do not know how to put it...but you know...something poetic, like poetry, like lovely,  like you love me...you know...like..."

You were a Scientist who was not just a scientist but who saw no beauty in poetry. Your beauty existed in the laboratory in mixing chemicals and experimenting. Sometimes, it was in her. And the girl who came after her.

You  feel like calling her. To congratulate her on her poet catch. You remember her number is not in your phone. It is in your sober mind. This time trying to remember it proves hard. It just convinces you that you are drunk.

Next. You click again. This time it takes long to load. Malawian internet.

You cancel the loading. You want to send a message in her inbox although you are not friends. You look at the photo again. A ghost. No longer beautiful.

Laughter. Long and hard.

"Beer never gets old!" you shout. To nobody. 

6/05/2015

Another death, no lesson learnt

Two years is a long time. In politics, it is an eternity. In life, it is a long time. The lessons we learnt, two years ago, tend to be forgotten.

In December 2013, in Balaka, a football fan died. There was a fracas. Police fired teargas and, on the way to save his life, 31 year old Lemiyasi Josita lost it. Mighty Wanderers and Silver Strikers, the two teams playing that day, were condemned. They were punished as well. In 2013. As of 2014, there still was a hangover of the punishment.

The comments that spread across social media were sensible. The anger was rational. And justified. Even the football teams said little, if anything, in their defense. As a nation, Malawi, we joined hands and condemned hooliganism in football.

Some of us, on Facebook, wondered why all the nonsense we call football in Malawi should be worth a death. But then, it appears, it was as good as writing nothing. Nobody read. Nobody heard. Or, if they did, two years is a long time. In football.

In 2015, hardly two  years after the unfortunate loss of Josita, our play that resembles football degenerated into the same chaos. At what is sarcastically called 'the soccer Mecca', a game that resembles football saw the end result not pleasing one of the teams. End result? Violence.

This violence, however, was not just a reactional attack on football supporters. It was a hooliganism unleashed in full force, if the reports concerning the recent death are to be trusted and are sincere. This, the violence, was a naked portrayal of unashamed brutality by a people meant to protect the country. The Malawi Defence Forces.

The reports say the victim, Godfrey Mwale, was on a bus stage. Waiting to take a bus home. For those not in the know, the stage is close to the stadium but not so close to the stadium. You can leave a furnace of violence in the stadium and be assured of sanity on the stage, in some circumstances.

It was at this respectable distance that Mwale met his fate. The officers, who had escaped violence themselves from irate supporters, decided to take all the revenge on Mwale. His haplessness was their drive. His cries as they drove their feet into the hard surface of his skull was their aphrodisiac in the rape of the sanctity of human life.

Half-dead they left the young man. He was later taken to QECH, the major referral, but as all other sacrifices on the altar of blood thirsty gods of football - or something resembling football like that played in Malawi - he did not make it. After a month of mimicking consciousness, slipping in and out of dear life, he surrendered the battle today. 05 June 2015. In the morning.

Like Josita before him, his death has sent tongues wagging. His death has made fingers dance on keyboards Facebooking and, somehow, tweeting. New debates have emerged. Maybe we should ban teams from the military in a civilian league. No we should not.

In the madness of this anger, some new story will take over. The nation's attention will divert to that. The soul of Mwale, a son of a police officer, will slide into its peace. Back to our lives until again some other life is lost, for something that resembles football. The circus will be played again, then!

5/28/2015

Not surprising, Blatter has African supporters

I just read a part. Then I gave up.

At once, it sounded like a joke. Most of the comments. At another, the comments felt unreal.

The BBC Africa page appeared on my Timeline. Not by accident. It was by design. I liked that page. Liked it to stay abreast with the events in Africa and abroad. Liked it because even if you cannot trust yourself, you can trust the BBC. I remembered one strikingly beautiful line I heard from the Malawian writer, Shemu Joya, that it will be the BBC that will announce the end of the world.

So, to not be left alone while everyone has been raptured, I liked the BBC page.

Not long ago, I started regretting. The comments on the page fuelled depression. The comments provoked exasperation. But, I forgave. I have read worse comments on Telegraph from predictably non-Africans. I have read worse comments on Time magazine. I have read worse comments anywhere. The insane have been unleashed on social media and nobody should be shocked by the comments they read; at least not when you do not know the people.

Today, the BBC posted on the FIFA scandal. It brought the opinions of the world whoevers on its page. I was amused, almost bemused, by Putin's comments. All he sees is the hand of the US crashing heavily on FIFA as a revenge. Putin sees no corruption. But, he is just Putin.

No, he is not just Putin.

He is an opinion leader. In Africa. Of all places.

Putin's comments have got a resounding applause. Among Africa's social commentators on the BBC Africa page. They do not just believe him but they agree with him word by word of what he says. They actually feel Putin is speaking their language. Language of the truth.

To them, Blatter and his cronies are victims of a scheme. A scheme targeted at FIFA to revenge for snubbing the US from hosting the World Cup.

I may not be sure of the length of corruption that Blatter has presided over but my first feeling each time I hear of Blatter is one of indignation.

I always wonder why Blatter feels he should be the FIFA life President. I always wonder why competitors to the throne pull out at the last minute under the most strangest of circumstances. I am not saying apart from presiding over corruption Blatter presides over a syndicate of mafias that intimidate any closest competitor. I would say that in private. Not in public such as this.

Here, in public, I just want to wonder aloud what benefits are there for the FIFA 'owner' to never imagine a life outside FIFA. I am just wondering why Blatter thinks without him football in the world will tumble face flat and be wiped off the face of the earth. I am just wondering why Blatter feels he is the axis of football in the world and that without him the football world will stop spinning.

Certainly, somehow, Blatter reflects the philosophy of politicians. Mostly African politicians. People who cannot leave their seats so another takes over. To them, they are the only people with a vision. No matter how blurred it gets to get with years falling over their existence.

A simple understanding of the philosophy that drives such leaders, however, is that they are sitting on a mound of corrupt loot. Dislodging them shall not only mean an end to their reign of thievery and thuggery but as well an exposition that might lead them to jail. I am using might because, in Africa, not many will be jailed. They will be tracked for a few days, or months, or years, just so the new regime can properly behold the title of 'new and clean politics' and eventually secure donor aid but soon after they will become bedfellows with the new regime.

The new regime, apparently, goes back to the same thief and ask how to loot and where to stack the loot. That is the sad reality.

Worse still, these leaders once unwillingly dethroned will always have supporters. These are not imported mercenary supporters. They are the local people whom this person has been fleecing with abandon. They will not think that the money was their taxes. They will not think that the money was meant for developmental works for them. They will cheer the dislodged despot to their death. At each of his court appearance, they will be there. They will fault the arresting authorities.

This, therefore, does not make me surprised when I discover that on the BBC Africa page the majority are defending Blatter. They are used. They always defend corruption. With the revelations, suspected for a long time, that Blatter has been presiding over a body of corrupt kleptomaniacs, you can bet in Africa his reputation has soared.

If he can decide to stand as a President for any country, it is most likely he will win. His corruption record is enviable. By African standards.