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Appendix 7. “Makiyolobasi Must Stop Bewitching at Night”

Harri Englund Indiana University Press ePub

A story submitted to Nkhani Zam’maboma but rejected in 2008, followed by translation. The transcription is a copy of the original sent to the MBC, and no attempt has been made to amend its spelling and grammar.

Mai Wenzulo sadaname kuti Makiyolobasi ndi satana weniweni ndipo asayime pa upresidenti padziko la Malawi

Zikomo Mkonzi

Makiyolobasi asiye kutamba usiku

Mnyamata wina kuno ku Thyolo wakhala ali kudandaulira kuti adalemba masiku ndi miyezi yomwe Makiyolobasi amabwera muufiti atasanduka khoswe. Komanso Makiyolobasiyu ali ndi anzake womwe amasanduka galu, muleme, mphemvu, kangaude ndi zilombo zina ndipo akuti Makiyolobasiyu ali ndi makoswe ambiri woti adzawagwirilitse ntchito povota mavoti a chaka cha m’mawa 2009. Komanso anzakewo ali ndi ndege zitatu zoti zizanyamule mavoti usiku. Ndipo mnyamatayu wati atengera Makiyolobasi kukhoti pogwiritsa malamulo a Dziko ndime 16 komanso amubwezere zonse wawononga pamatenda ake.

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4 A Nameless Genre

Harri Englund Indiana University Press ePub

“A man who works in an Asian’s store in Limbe in Blantyre is said to have made his children drink beer when he did not have money to feed the children.”1 This headline introduced a story about destitution that epitomizes many of the themes and rhetorical devices in Nkhani Zam’maboma. The man was said to live in a particular neighborhood in Ndirande, a township in Limbe’s twin city Blantyre, and his troubles came to a head when the Asian boss failed to pay his salary. Tired of poverty, his wife abandoned him, leaving behind children crying from hunger. Unable to find food in the house, the man went to look for leavings of masese, opaque homemade beer, in the cartons drinkers had thrown away. He returned to give the beer to the children as if it was porridge, with the result that the children became drunk.

Just as the stories involving witchcraft carried allusions to various other issues, so too did this story evoke a range of themes, amenable to further expansion by listeners all too familiar with the hardship and injustice it depicted. It illustrated the thin line separating ordinary poverty from destitution. When listening to it with villagers in Dedza District and migrants in Chinsapo Township, I began to realize how a single story could evoke a range of grievances and reflections among its public. Some listeners in the township would describe their own experiences of employers skipping the payment of salary. Others gave further examples of the arbitrary and exploitative labor conditions in the enterprises owned by the merchant class of South Asian extraction.2 They described workers being locked up to prevent them from taking a break, the rejection of their requests to attend funerals, unexplained deductions taken from salaries. The domestic trouble mentioned in the broadcast story sounded familiar to listeners in both rural and urban settings, the ideal of the man-as-provider and the woman-as-housewife crushed under the weight of poverty. Although the act of giving beer to hungry children was the detail that made this story out of the ordinary, the entire scene it conveyed was at variance with the carefully cultivated image of a nation enjoying the fruits of development in the MBC’s official news bulletins.

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Appendix 5. Reclaiming Virginity

Harri Englund Indiana University Press ePub

Unedited version of a story broadcast on Nkhani Zam’maboma on July 11, 2008. The transcription is a copy of the original sent to the MBC, and no attempt has been made to amend its spelling and grammar.

“Worship, the Woman is Polyandrous!”

A woman speaking at the First-Grade Magistrate’s Court in Lilongwe demanded her husband to restore her virginity and cleanse her of AIDS if he wanted to leave her. But some tried to think critically and condemned the ex-wife describing her irresponsible.

Magistrate Kachama made the situation even worse when he said: “The woman is saying you are still her husband. And that if you want to leave her, you should restore her virginity and cleanse her of AIDS, which she claims, you infected her. What are you going to say?”

The husband did not waste time thinking about what he could do for the lady. He just hit the nail on its head saying: “I don’t want this woman. As for AIDS, I cannot be responsible because the woman married three times before me.”

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Appendix 1. Presidential News

Harri Englund Indiana University Press ePub

Main news on the MBC’s Chicheŵa news bulletin, February 2, 2003, followed by translation.

Pulezidenti wa dziko lino Dr Bakili Muluzi ŵati sadzalola nduna iliyonse yosakhulupirika kugwira ntchito m’boma lake. Polankhula pamsonkhano omwe anachititsa dzulo kwa Chinsapo One m’dera lakuzambwe mumzinda wa Lilongwe, Pulezidenti Muluzi anati akufuna nduna zomwe zili ndi chidwi chotumikira chipani ndi boma. Pulezidenti Muluzi anafotokoza kuti cholinga cha boma la UDF ndi kutumikira anthu osati kugwiritsa ntchito maudindo pazofuna zawo. Mtsogoleri wa dziko linoyu anati boma lake lili ndi mfundo zambiri monga zolemekeza ufulu wachibadwidwe wa anthu, kulimbikitsa ufulu wa demokalase ndi kulimbana ndi umphaŵi. Dr Muluzi anati ichi n’chifukwa chake sagwirizana ndi zomakangana pa ndale zomwe anthu ena amachita. Pulezidenti Muluzi anati ndi cholinga cha boma lake kupezera anthu zofuna zawo pa ntchito ya chitukuko. Iye anakumbutsa anthu kuti pa nthaŵi ya ulamuliro wa boma lakale aMalaŵi ankawapondereza ndipo analibe mwayi wogwira ntchito za bizinesi ngakhale wogulitsa zinthu m’mphepete mwa misewu ya m’mizinda ndi m’matawuni. Dr Muluzi ananenetsa kuti ndi chipani cha UDF chokha chomwe chingalimbikitse mfundo za boma la demokalase ndi kukweza miyoyo ya anthu. Dr Muluzi ananenetsa kuti palibe chifukwa chomapatula amayi ndi achinyamata monga momwe zinkakhalira zinthu pa nthaŵi ya ulamuliro wa boma la chipani cha MCP.

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9 Beyond the Parity Principle

Harri Englund Indiana University Press ePub

The first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” While the Second World War had attached new urgency to the definition and implementation of human rights, the 1990s wave of liberalization in Africa and elsewhere revived this project in the context of crumbling autocracies and widespread poverty. Much as its principled attention to all human beings could inspire fresh political, economic, and legal challenges to the status quo, the discourse on human rights was often highly selective in practice. Of the first article’s emphasis on freedom and equality, only the idea of freedom came to inform the public interventions by Malaŵi’s human rights activists and democratic politicians. As has been seen, the very concept of human rights was translated into Chicheŵa through the concept of freedom.

It would be futile, however, to expect that a conceptual shift from freedom to equality would by itself rectify the neglect of social and economic rights that the emphasis on political and civil liberties has seemed to reinforce. As central concepts in liberal political and moral theory, freedom and equality have been shown to carry multiple meanings and open up potentially contradictory possibilities. Feminist theorists, for example, have argued that once decoupled from its association with personal autonomy and self-rule, “freedom” can prompt questions of how social relations and institutions both enable and constrain subjects (Hirschmann 2003: 35–39; see also Friedman 2003). Such questions become particularly contentious when they no longer assume a categorical distinction between the subject’s desires and socially prescribed conduct, or that submission to external authority necessarily subverts the subject’s potentiality (Mahmood 2005: 31). As for “equality,” some philosophers have at least since Rousseau recognized how the apparent neutrality of formal equality can consolidate existing inequalities by denying differences in situations, resources, and needs (Hirschmann 2003: 223–224). Moreover, equality comes with variable complexions and goals, with the demand for one type of equality (such as equal rights) inconsistent with the demand for another type (such as the equality of incomes) (Sen 1992).

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