Malawi Government sponsoring unsafe abortions

By Gregory Gondwe

Dr. Msusa - College of Medicine (4)

Dr. Ausbert Thoko Msusa of the College of Medicine

Lewis Chakhwant (9)

Parliamentary Legal Affairs Chair Lewis Chakhwantha

Tinyade Kachika Lawyer (5)

Human Rights Lawyer Tinyade Kachika

A College of Medicine lecturer in Obstetrics and Gynaecology Ausbert Thoko Msusa has said government of Malawi is sponsoring unsafe abortions through the caring for post abortion care complications.

Msusa said according to research the government-run health care facilities bear the brunt as the government incurs a cost of between USD $300,000- $500,000 annually.

At an interface meeting organised for Parliamentary Committee on legal affairs by Ipas Msusa said the high cost of abortion has severe implications for women, especially those in rural areas.

He said the findings shows that approximately 70,000 women have abortions every year while about 30,000 of these women are treated for complications of unsafe abortion annually.

Lawyer Tinyade Kachika who is Managing Consultant at Lawplus says the country’s Penal Code Sections 149 – 150 make it an offence for a woman or a third party to procure a miscarriage, to supply the poison, instrument or other means necessary to do so, or to act with the intention to carry out the above.

She however says this contradicts Section 243 which says “a person is not criminally responsible for performing in good faith and with reasonable care and skill a surgical operation upon any person for his benefit, or upon an unborn child for the preservation of the mother’s life…”

She says there is need for abortion law reform because from a human rights perspective unsafe abortion due to restrictive law violates the right to safe abortion as recognised by the African Union which was ratified by Malawi in May 2005.

She says this is the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, also known as the Maputo Protocol, is the only treaty that specifically recognises the right to safe abortion.

Kachika observes that according to the charter the State Parties shall authorise medical abortion in cases of sexual assault, rape, incest; and where the continued pregnancy endangers the mental and physical health of the mother or the life of the mother or the foetus”.

Msusa said as a result of this law, women are paying a high price physically, economically and socially.

“One in five women who receive post abortion care had severe complications that need to be treated,” he said.

Msusa said at 675 per 100,000 live births, Malawi’s maternal mortality rate is one of the highest in the world.

“17 percent of these deaths are attributable to unsafe abortion,” he said.

He said those involved in unsafe abortions included 35 percent of women with first pregnancy while 61 percent were married women.

Msusa said 90 percent of women required womb scraping while 43 percent required stay in hospital more than a day, 4.6 percent required blood transfusion while about 14 percent had severe infection

Chairperson of Parliamentary Committee on legal affairs Lewis Chakhwantha said the will need to consult widely before committing to the review of the abortion law in the country.

“The public perception is a hostile one towards this bill and we will first, gauge the temperature to see how responsive the public will be to the suggestion and only after we get a nod from the people will we be able to support it,” he said.

Anglican Church Priest Austin Kalimbe said it is necessary as Malawian Christians to reform the law because the Bible is not explicitly saying yes or no to abortion.

“We need to reflect about loss of life of women. If this is something that is going to save life of women then I am attempted to say yes to the safe abortion,” said Father Kalimbe.

Parliamentary Health Committee Chairperson Juliana Lunguzi snubbed the calls for safe abortions, telling off those calling for it to count her out.

“Unless you design messages for me to deliver to my constituents, I can never ask them to start carrying out abortions,” argued Lunguzi, herself a trained nurse and midwife.  

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Govt. faults media on poverty reports

By Gregory Gondwe

Government has said recent reports in the media that indicated that Malawi is the poorest country in the world, based on the analysis of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of several countries, have exposed the incompetence of the Malawi media to interpret economic data.

Information, Tourism and Civic Education Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa expressed Government’s disappointment last week where he said Government has since decided to train the local media in financial and economic reporting.

“We are looking at the capacity of journalists in the country on how best they are able to cover and understand issues. That information per se could not have been interpreted as Malawi being the poorest country. Time is now that we need to emphasise much in specialised writing, in particular economic reporting” said Nankhumwa.

He said the bone of contention is Malawi media’s failure to differentiate between the GDP per head in current US dollars and GDP per head in purchasing power parity.

“These issues are quite different altogether. That is why I am saying it is very imperative that as journalist we need to emphasise much in specialised writing or specialised reporting especially economic reporting,” he said.

He said his ministry is at the moment undertaking to get some scholarships which are available now and they will be contacting media houses to offer people that can undergo this kind of training.

“Failure to interpret data is a serious source of concern,” he said.

He however said as government they are not saying that Malawi is not poor but not the poorest.

Nankhumwa said in the short and medium term for government is to put up policies that will increase rural production and income.

Presidential economic advisor Collins Magalasi said members of the media have an extra responsibility saying as government they have a some sources of inspiration especially when policy development and implementation is influenced by among other things, what the public want to see done.

This fortunately or unfortunately Magalasi said relies on the biggest role of the media of informing the public rightly.

“I heard and saw what was reported as Malawi being the poorest country. I failed to understand how anybody who has an interest in the economy will report it that way,” he said.

Magalasi, who is an economist by profession, cautioned the media to be careful on how they use figures and issues of the economy because they can mislead the nation and in that way misleading the leadership.

“Measurement of poverty is a relative process and I was surprised that someone could write that they want to measure poverty using GDP,” he said.

He said the media need to answer several questions before taking this route.

In reaction to the government sentiments, Association for Business Journalists (ABJ) Deputy National Coordinator Dumbani Mzale agreed with the government officials that indeed the media did a botched up job on their reporting on the matter.

“We would look forward to ensuring that a tailor-made training for journalists do take place so that they could be able to interpret economic data,” he said.   

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Muma Awards scores highly on Sauka

Disregard all the challenges that the organisers of the annual Music Malawi (Muma) Awards have encountered to put up the event for the second year running.

The gesture to decorate late Mr. Michael Fredrick Paul Sauka with the Life Time Achiever Award for composing Malawi’s National Anthem dims all such challenges.

MediaCorp Limited and Trocadero Consulting in partnership with Musicians Union of Malawi (Mum) say they have unveiled Sauka as the Life Time Achiever for this edition going by the theme ‘Celebrating Malawi Music at 50.’

I happen to have been there on July 6, 2011 when late President Bingu wa Mutharika decorated eight musicians during the Independence Anniversary Celebrations at the Mzuzu Stadium.

Sauka was given the honour bestowed on those called Principal Achievers. At the time then I thought this honour had come too late considering that even on the day that Mutharika was sworn in, it was this Sauka-composed-national anthem that was performed several times.

Since on the day others had given top accolades I also raised a debate on whether or not Sauka deserved a Principal Achiever honour that he was given or needed a Grand Achiever accolade.

Born 1934, in his life time Sauka showed a unique talent both as a composer and pianist as he played music which became a big part of his life as it helped him emerge as one of the greatest musicians in the early 1960’s.

His musical exploits include composing the Malawi National Anthem, Mulungu Dalitsani Malawi Oh God Bless Malawi, which was chosen through a stiff and highly competitive process involving Malawian and non-Malawian composers.

He also pioneered the formation of the then renowned Blantyre City Recreation Fine and Performing arts group besides composing numerous pieces for the MBC Band and Limbe Cathedral Choir.

Sauka also used the performing arts group, to undertake development and health outreach mobilization programmes. He is also honoured for his ability to balance singing and teaching artists in music literacy and performance, thereby advancing his knowledge of music to the next generation.

The other reason I think Muma awards organisers have scored highly is that in April 2006 I was part of a Constitutional Review conference that was also attended by the current president as a consultant.
Participants and contributors to the Constitutional Review Conference proposed that some areas in the country’s National Anthem be changed in order to be consistent with the current political, economic and social scenario. Apparently none  has taken heed to such calls, speaking volumes of how highly regarded this composition is.

I remember that this matter, which came to the attention of the conference during the presentation by Rafiq Hajat of the Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI) received support from Kamuzu Chibambo, a lawyer who is also People’s Transformation Party (PETRA).

Chibambo protested that Malawians have been singing about hunger, disease and envy for 40 years and proposed that these words be removed or replaced from the National Anthem.“

I remember that this was his argument: “What I know is usually what I affirm and what I affirm controls me therefore we must not let hunger, disease and envy control us. We need to address this issue because we must move on.”

Hajat who was presenting a paper entitled “A Constitutional Fortress: Mirage or Miraculously Possible?” also started by saying that some words in the National Anthem like where it talked of leaders must be replaced  with people.
The conference could perhaps consider amending our National Anthem to say, “”Bless our people – each and every one” instead of “Bless our Leaders”

To the applause of the participants Hajat also argued that once a person has become a leader then it means he has already been blessed and therefore if the conference wanted to maintain the leader in the National Anthem then it must be “Guide our leader and not Bless”.

If the submissions on the changing of the National Anthem were to take effect, it would have been the first time that it was to change since the adoption of the anthem in 1964.

Sauka died on August 15, 1990 a poor man, because he did not get any royalties from the National Anthem prompting his relatives to press on Government to assist his widow, which it never did.

The organisers say going by the theme of the awards “Celebrating Malawi Music at 50” which is in tandem with Malawi’s 50 years of independence, a selected panel of Judges have decided to give this converted award of Life Time Achiever to Michael- Fredrick Paul Sauka, the composer of the country’s National Anthem, which has been Malawi’s heart and soul for the last 50 years.

I doff my hat for the judges that include broadcaster Maria Chidzanja Nkhoma, Journalist Penelope Paliani Kamanga, ethno-musician Waliko Makhala, Music Crossroads Country Director Mathews Mfune, DJs Kenny Klips, broadcaster Jean Chalungama and DJ Maya who scrutinised the nominations and given a nod to Sauka as the Life Time Achiever.

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Inviting Davido to plant trees

Nigerian David Adedeji Adeleke whose stage name is Davido got his fame
through music. Last week he was in the country where he was paraded
around like a doll to pose with fans and plant trees here and there.

Davido who is a recording artist, performer and record producer was in
the country for three days courtesy of M-Cinema and the Go Green

Mainly he was invited to be a red carpet guest at a special screening
of new Nollywood film Spirits of the Assassin.

He also planted trees around.

Not surprising, he ended up posting a picture of himself in bed at
Capital Hotel expressing his feelings at that particular time which
was that he was bored.

Now everyone wanted his head, the patriotic and the not so patriotic
Malawians thought he had insulted them because all it meant was that
he was saying that Malawi is a boring country.

But wait a minute, what do you expect when you invite a musician from
a foreign country into yours in order to be planting trees and posing
with fans?

Why didn’t the organisers invite him to perform as a musician? This
guy sings on stage and not planting trees around.

And talk of our organisers; what is the meaning of inviting a star
like Davido, book him at Capital Hotel when you do not have what it
takes to host anyone at a facility like Capital Hotel.

Now that the failure by the organisers to honour their contract with
the hotel only ended up helping the spilt over when it exorcised the
violent demons in Davido, where he roughed up a few, broke to pieces
anything fragile article standing on his way before speeding off to
the airport.

There was commotion at Capital Hotel Davido fought his way out of the
hospitality facility in order to evade payment of a hotel bill of K1,

Police had to shoot in the air when the American-born Nigerian and his
team tried to drive off in a car prompting the driver to stop when the
gun was pointed at him.

What was the agreement and why should we be inviting musicians to do
the opposite of their calling.

We know Davido as some guy who sings. And now with all his talking and
perhaps taking one too many, he kind of lost his voice and added to
difficulties for anyone within his earshot to grasp what was coming
out of his mouth compounded by his thick Nigerian accent.

There was nothing that one could get from him which is a clear show
that his voice is wasting away because he is not using his system for
music alone.

The other thing is that it is very apparent that fame has got the
better of this young Davido guy. Talk of youthful exuberance but this
is something that cannot excuse him to live undignified life as he

Does it say anything about failure to manage fame? Does it tell us
anything about our own artist as well? Is humility that expensive that
most of these young artists cannot afford it?

What reputation does this leave us with when it comes to organising
and hosting foreign artists? Are we being able to attract the best
quality to come here and perform and not do stuff that is not part of
what made them?

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Where are the Music Malawi Awards?

In January 2014, the Musicians Union of Malawi (MUM) inaugurated what it called the Music Association of Malawi Music Awards (MAMMA); the awards have since changed and rebranded to Annual Music Malawi (MUMA) Awards to reflect the overall mission and vision of the Awards.

By August 2014 organisers of the awards, the MediaCorp Limited and Trocadero Consulting who were doing so in partnership with MUM had already started calling for nominations of the best artists/groups/songs for this Edition of the awards to be presented in the Month of January 2015.

The way I read my calendar, it looks like today is January 24th. I am sure if I have not heard of the date the presentation is going to take place, it is because the organizers have not announced it yet.

While this can be changed as per the dictates of the circumstances I cannot help it but to consider the fact that it was rebranded and with it came a new format in the selection, nomination and voting of the best act.

One other act done for this year’s awards was the involvement of media houses that’s both print and electronic, selected clubs, music outlets and media practitioners to nominate the best act for the 2013/2014 season in each of the 13 categories.

Each participant was invited to select a maximum of ten acts in each category and thereafter a panel of judges will scrutinize the given lists to come up with 5 (five) in each category. These 5 (five) will then be put to a public voting.

The initial arrangement was that at least by Wednesday October 15, 2014 nominations would have been received.

Those that delayed to submit their completed nomination forms, where given an extension to do so by Wednesday December 10, 2014 meaning by now everything is set and the winners are now in the bag just waiting to be unveiled.

Soon after the inaugural awards everyone who matters tried to give the awards its Good, Bad and Ugly side.

I had my own misgivings as well and fought the temptation to point out at some glaring anomalies including failure to create categories with nominees that were mismatching.

Last awards were scandalous because even the MUM Chairperson Rev. Chimwemwe Mhango also got himself an award and so was the then Deputy Chairperson of MAM Women Desk Favoured Martha.

The demand I made last year was for the two to surrender back the awards because they did not deserve them, which was never the case.

Now this time round I am looking forward to an improved organisation in the awards giving process having learnt many lessons with the last year’s charade.

I expect the nominees to be in their deserving categories and please no executive member of MUM should walk away with any award again this time round. It is immoral to do so therefore take heed.

With all the time the organisers had in the world since August last year I should have been seeing posters, stickers, flyers and what have you informing us of the day the event is going to take place.

The inaugural event took place in January and it would have been befitting had the same also taken place this same month as the organisers told us last year.

Is it still on or?

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Sangie’s jump into cheaters sequel

Sangie is the name that is lately on the lips of many. In June last year she did a track ‘I do it all for Love’ which has hit the airwaves as both an audio track and a musical video.

Of course it is a rhythm pronounced ‘Riddim’ created in 2012 by Foxxy at Step Up Records studio but she has bolstered it with her composition which is a reggae track that is in between the borders of Lovers’ Rock and non-hardcore dancehall.

Real name Angel Mbekeani, Sangie at 20 has managed to carve her place amongst the established artists, not in Malawi alone but also in Jamaica.

This is what I mean: When you listen to her track you realise its a sequel of an issue that was first started by Christopher Martin when he released a single ‘Cheaters Prayer’ in August 2011.

In November the same year Ce’celie released ‘Cheater’s Prayer Counteraction’ in reaction to Martin’s hit single.

Now when you check the lyrics you will understand why Sangie’s can be lined up as the two tracks by the Jamaican stars is also one to be taken seriously.

For example Martin sings: “Oh Lord, don’t let me cheat on my girlfriend, cause as far as I can see, She loves only me.

Oh Lord, don’t let me cheat on my girlfriend, but Lord if you can’t stop me from cheating, just don’t let me get caught.”

In response Ce’celie sang back:

“Lord I don’t wanna cheat on my boyfriend But as far as I can see he’s cheating on me Lord I don’t wanna cheat on my boyfriend But lord since you can’t stop him from cheating wait til him left di yard, is a next man a come in yah.”

But while these two are trying to compete, where Ce’celie tries to cheat back on Martin for our Malawian voice through Sangie its a different case she sings:

“Oh Lord, don’t let me catch my boyfriend cheating instead make him stop because I am not leaving… Because I do it all for Love.”

It is a revelation that gives a fresh air to contributions from our ladies towards the development of our secular productions. The challenge is that the moment we start looking at our music with a spectacle Published on Jun 25, 2014.

“I do it all for love” audio was recorded at Mtanda Media produced by Sispence instrumental programmed but the Video was shot and directed by Lion Soldier and was edited by Platinum at Black Flames Edutainment.

But when you consider all the matters, it is clear that Sangie has not ashamed us by challenging with her part in the sequel as she has done it wonderfully well.

It is a revelation that gives a fresh air to contributions from our ladies towards the development of our secular productions. The challenge is that the moment we start looking at our music with such a spectacle, we blur the picture completely.

I have asked before that if you were to point out at a legendary lady musician in the country, who is into secular music, would you do that at the drop of a hat?

I would really be surprised if that were to be the case. Over a period of time if at all we have had lady musicians doing secular, then they would be a one album sort of artists.

I would not desire to go a yonder to give examples. I know you know Amina Tepatepa, Emma Masauko, Wendy Harawa, Maria Chidzanja Nkhoma, and Beatrice Kamwendo as some of the names that have hogged the limelight and then either disappeared completely and got stuck in the peripherals.

It is so bad that most of the women musicians are dominating the gospel arena where they survive by the faith of such religious following other than sheer talent and creativity.

There are very few names within the gospel cycles like Grace Chinga and Ethel Kamwendo Banda and of course Favoured Sisters and the Chitheka Family who are musicians by talent first and playing gospel as a contribution of their talent towards the work of God.

Sangie now comes to answer my question: Seriously, do we have a Malawi female musician worth mentioning?

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Malawi music from a US Perspective

Heather Maxwell produces and hosts the award-winning radio program “Music Time in Africa” and is the African Music Editor for the Voice of America. Maxwell is an ethno-musicologist with a doctorate degree from Indiana University specialising in African Music.

She is also an accomplished jazz and Afro-Jazz/Afro-Soul vocalist and has been working, researching and performing in Africa and the U.S. since 1987.

Recently, Maxwell visited Malawi and on December 3, she posted on the space for VOA bloggers what her experience was like.

Enjoy the excerpts below:

“I landed in Lilongwe, Malawi on October 9th, 2014. My mission: to learn more about the country’s music. The energy of Lilongwe was entirely different than in Johannesburg or Cape Town, South Africa, where I had just been the week earlier. Here, things moved at a slower, more relaxed pace. Day and night, joyous voices of nearby church choirs wafted through my windows. I discovered sweet songs sung in four-part harmony, soft acoustic guitar melodies, and to electric dance beats with wholesome good fun lyrics.

“I was surprised to find a music shop in the city centre that still sold cassettes. In fact most of music items available there were cassettes, followed by CDs and some DVDs as well.

“DVD music by Symon & Kendall, purchased at shopping mall. Lilongwe, Malawi 10/10/14. The most popular genre, by far, was gospel music. But in popular music, the Lilongwe-based duo Symon & Kendall were the staff’s number #1 pick.

“Popularly known as the Nyembanyemba Boys, this duo produces only DVDs of their music and their videos usually feature village-wide involvement. Their most popular clip to date is ‘Nkhwiko’ released in December 2012.

“According to Malawian music blogger Gregory Gondwe, the title track is about the oesophagus. ‘Imagine,’ he writes, ‘you might think there is a serious message to this, but nope, as the track merely tells the oesophagus to get ready as it will experience better food passing through it down into the stomach.’

“What’s great about 9the song) is that it captures moments of everyday life in Malawi with a twist of humour. The quality of the video and sound is also excellent.

“The highlight of my stay in Lilongwe was on Saturday morning when I visited Music Crossroads – Malawi (MCM). It is one of five centres for music training and production in southern Africa; the others being in Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania. I arrived at the centre to find a well-organised group of young musicians waiting to greet me and to share their talents. Each one gave me their music on CD and a short performance that I filmed on the spot.

“Some had professional CDs to offer while others had only rough mixes. During a brief interview, they told me why MCM was important to them. George Kalukusha comes because it offers a great sense of community and a place to meet like-minded people and share ideas. He’s currently working on a song called “Good Blood” about a girl living with HIV/AIDS and the struggles she goes through.

“Neil Nayar is an English singer/songwriter who came to Malawi two years ago to be here at MCM. He heard about MCM musicians playing in Malawian youth prisons. After arriving he did that for nine months and from there, has been developing his own music style with local bands that he calls Afro-country fusion. ‘Country music is really popular here. Since I arrived as a foreigner not knowing any local language, the one style that carried me through in the beginning was Country because people really love Country.’

“Lackson Duncan Chazima is a singer and teaches voice and music theory at MCM Academy. He likes it here because so many ‘big’ musicians from Malawi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and even West Africa countries converge here and share knowledge and repertoires. He says he learns a lot just being around them.

“Last but not least is singer songwriter, Ernest Ikwanga. He says he’s grown up at Music Crossroads – Malawi. He’s been coming since age 17. ‘It has been and still is my home’, he says.

“Ikwanga has just finished his theory classes and recently opened up his own home studio in Lilongwe.

“There are also other musicians and singers who contribute to the diversity and positive energy of the place. Thanks to all of them, and to Director Mathews Mfune and Music Crossroads International Director, Joe Herman.

“Music Today in Malawi is developing and several of the Music Crossroads artists told me that they were searching to find Malawi’s music identity. They have a few models to look to for direction such as Fikisa, Wambali Mkandawire and Symon & Kendall, but they are already well on their way.”

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