Monday, August 27, 2012


On a moderately mild afternoon of September 26, 1992, a well built white man in dark glasses is driven into Zomba Maximum Prison in a Malawi Government Land Rover.

Clenching his fists, he looks composed but determined to carry out a task on behalf of his client. This is a task that no Malawian can dare carry out.

Wearing a pair of tired jeans and a black short sleeved shirt, he alights from the car and quickly straps a black bag on his shoulder. His mind is focused on one task so he fails to notice a group of villagers wearing somber faces at the dilapidated visitors’ prison longue. 

Accompanied by prison officers, he fades into a dark room at the Eastern corner of the facility.

His “catch” this afternoon is a man in his thirties who was convicted of murdering his uncle in a land dispute in the Central Region district of Dowa.

The “Executioner” readies himself by putting on a pair of black gloves and a brown coat. He signals to four prison warders to walk back and give him some space.

The client is standing on a wooden floor between two poles and has his head covered with a black hood; 20 centimeters above his head is dangling noose.

Five minutes later, the white guy is gone and there is no sign of life in gallows. He closes the chapter for the last legal execution to take place within the borders of Malawi.

Records show that from 1972 to 1993 during Kamuzu Banda's dictatorship a total of 823 were sentenced to death. Out of the 823 convicts, 299 were executed and the remaining ones either died in prison or were pardoned.

On December 18, 2008 and December 21st, 2010, Malawi abstained on the Resolution on a Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty at the UN General Assembly.

Two years later, Malawi became a democracy again (It seems people don’t appreciate that Kamuzu Banda initiated democracy in his first years in office)

The new development automatically opened up a vibrant media forum and within that period government planned to launch its own TV station in 1995.

However, the deal fell through because it is rumored that the equipment that was supposed to be donated here from Malaysia was diverted by one Gambian army officer, Yahya Jammeh, who had grabbed power through a bloodless coup d’état.

We were sleeping so we had to wait for three more years after the “theft” to have our own TV station.
The clever officer was quick to consolidate power through his cunning International Relations schemes.

Since diverting our equipment, Jammeh hasn’t been a fixture on our affairs but last week he said something that cannot be ignored by leaders and policy makers world over including our own Joyce Banda.

In his recent speech, the Gambian leader- whose full name is “Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya AJJ   Jammeh”- indicated that his government will hang all the 47 people who are on death row. He did not elaborate but the world started crying.

In Malawi, at least 29 men and women currently sit on death row; however, no one has been executed in the country since the 1992 scenario. Those sentenced to death are entitled to a mandatory appeal in the Supreme Court

Judges in Malawi can still sentence offenders to death; they handed down four or five death penalties in 2010 and with only a few murder trials taking place in 2011 no death penalties were given. However, this year more murder trials are expected in the High Court.

Why does the world seem sympathetic with people who kill their fellow humans?

Human Rights looked at critically; have you ever thought of the emotional pain that people who lose their loved ones go through? Has any research been conducted to hear their views on what should happen to those who gruesomely murdered their loved ones?  

What we seem to have created here is a shadow Truth and Reconciliation Committee which seems to favour murderers only.

Think of the people who are dying mercilessly in recent months.

Think of the Msamala guy who was gruesomely murdered by his houseboy in Soche East.

Draw your mind back to last year’s gruesome murder of Robert Chasowa.

Have we asked their families what they think should be done to the murderers should the courts find them wrong and commit them to hang?

The truth is you can only advocate for the rights of murderers if you haven’t lost a relative through such a gruesome act.

Yahya Jammeh might have “stolen” our TV equipment but there is sense in what he is saying about hanging death row inmates.


Thursday, August 9, 2012


All books I read while in Primary school indicated that some man from Europe at some point in their life decided to go out of their comfort zone and discover something new. The discovery turned out to be a large piece of land with millions of inhabitants. I have always struggled with the notion that a whole acreage of land would be discovered by a single person.

It still puzzles me when several people seem to have discovered different features on our lands. One came and discovered Shire River; another discovered this mountain and that valley. That’s how naïve imperialism sounds. We discovered these features ourselves and their coming did not change anything in as far as our country is concerned.

Wait a minute, I am wrong here.

Their discovery culminated into high level meetings in European capital cities where they discussed how best they would share the lands they had discovered.

The modalities really foolish and illogical. The tiny Belgium got Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo), a country 13 times her size; the same as Malawi colonizing Mainland China.

Britain got (or discovered) a large territory in Africa, Asia and South America. Thereafter, they are happy to call us the Commonwealth. Ask Mugabe, he doesn’t give a damn about the association. “They can go to hell,” he keeps on saying.  

They have even organized Commonwealth Games for all colonized nations to prove to the oppressor that they can be sporty enough for useless medals.

When the Germans and the British traded parts of our country in 1890, our forefathers did not know that our waters were beyond swimming and fishing.

Similarly, when former Tanzania President Mwalimu Julius Nyerere mentioned about Lake Malawi, Kamuzu roared momentarily and the issue settled.

Our fishing in those waters have not been a big deal up until somebody came and knocked on our minds; “Hello, there is oil in your waters”. The alert came to Malawi first before Tanzania got wind of it.

The 1890 agreement gave us powers to run the lake the way we want. No wonder we called it Lake Nyasa, later on Lake Malawi. Tanzania wants to have a share in Lake Malawi. Doesn’t this sound like Palestinians trying to have a share of Israel’s capital, Jerusalem?

For the past two weeks the issue was still a joke to me up until Tanzania’s cabinet ministers started talking of an impending war if Malawi goes on with the oil exploration.

The fish wasn’t a problem but oil is; that seems to be the storyline. May be it is true that oil is a curse to Africa (Ask people of the Niger Delta)

Whether we continue exploring oil or not, Tanzanians need to understand one thing and they have to do so clearly.

We are a nation of lions. We were led by a Lion for 30 years and that made us strong minded. We come from a fighting background during the Kingdoms. Our land is a convergence zone and all those who settled here did so after fighting their way in (Except for the Chinese)

We have the Warships and the Submarines ready to take charge and protect our waters. We are at liberty to choose what we are going to do with our waters even if it means draining the whole lake for fun.

If Tanzania doubts my stand then let them come and check our personnel.

At the helm is one man who is Malawi’s Man of the Year for 2012. He is the man who saw a smooth transition of power from one government to another. At a time when we thought Peter Mutharika was going to illegally squeeze through to State House, Army Commander Henry Odillo dusted his copy of the constitution and saw things the way they ought to be.

My heart rested when I watched Odillo on TV sitting next to President Banda on the morning before her swearing in. (I will not salute Peter Mukhito though he was also there. He looked forced and unstable)
Henry Odillo displayed courage to see Malawi where it is today and he will surely extend that courage to protect our citizens, our land, our waters, our fish and our oil.

Let Tanzania get this message loud and clear. If this is still unclear, then I propose they send me a Swahili teacher so that I can blog likewise.