JB gags Mablacks


President Joyce Banda’s generosity seems to be celebrated in all forms of manner and style and from the onset I have to disabuse all and sundry that my contention is not in the comportment recipients of such ‘benevolence’ chose to display pleasure upon receipt of the same.

She is currently busy distributing goats after depleting our maize silos and everyone is singing praises and worship on how President Joyce Banda has chosen to show that she is not one to show some charge of ‘niggardliness’.   

On Monday, August 5, the President showed her ‘philanthropic’ nature again when she, through her Joyce Banda Foundation International procured eight air tickets for The Black Missionaries band members and also provided their subsistence allowances to facilitate their performance in Ireland.

The Black Missionaries is the popular reggae group in the country which visited Sanjika Palace in Blantyre for this purpose before starting off for the shows that will allow them perched somewhere in Dublin between 17 and 23 August and take a view of Malawi from borrowed Eurocentric spectacles. 

The band left for the Republic of Ireland on Tuesday and will return on 28th August after performing at the Miss Malawi Ireland show.

In her own words, the President learnt about a shortfall in the band’s trip to Ireland and was encouraged to come to their support saying she is always inspired of keeping the dreams of ‘their fathers’.

President Joyce Banda says The Black Missionaries Band has inspired many youths in the country and abroad and she is particularly encouraged with the message they send out as they promote Malawi culture.

This is well and good and I can’t blame anyone with a view that for the umpteenth time, the President is right; and has for once proven that she is not parsimonious with the ‘purse’, whether it being hers, tax payers’ or one belonging to the foundation, which I have difficulties to differentiate.

Now before I say why I have decided to bring up this whole issue, let me take you back to 2002.

“On the 27th November 2001, the death of Mr. Evison Matafale was monitored on the national radio, the Malawi broadcasting Corporation. He had reportedly died at the Lilongwe Central Hospital while in Police custody. Mr. Evison Matafale’s death attracted a lot of negative speculation as to the reasons for his arrest, let alone the circumstances under which he died were not known to the public domain.

…One direction of the public speculation was that Mr. Matafale died as a result of police beatings. Prior to his reported arrest, it was rumoured that Mr. Matafale authored a document that was believed to have irked certain sections of the society particularly in Government.”

The quoted paragraphs above are part of a report of the inquiry into the Death of Evison Matafale produced by Joint Committee of Inquiry – comprising The Human Rights Commission; The Office of the Ombudsman and The Prison Inspectorate released in March, 2002.

The story of how Matafale died has been told on these pages before and it’s not my intension to bore you with going over the same tale.

But I will not omit mention of the fact that President Joyce Banda was part of the Muluzi regime that is credited for this unresolved saga.

Now that, sitting where Muluzi was sitting then, she decided to extend a generous gesture towards the band, I took it with a pinch of salt as to me it spank some ulterior motives.

Does it mean all the bands that do not have money for outside tours, recording fees, and etcetera will just have to talk to one or two guys who can help them break the fences to Presidential places for them to be shot in the arm?

Doesn’t it now show the glaring absence of the arts policy which would have incorporated the element of facilitating such opportunities for our artists?

To me, what the President did was merely giving out some fish to the hungry. Instead she should have given them the hook, line and sinker and taught them how they do it.

What is worrying me even more is the fact that when you look at the initial mission of why Evison Matafale established the band, you will agree with me that it is supposed to be the voice of the voiceless against the oppressive behaviour of the leadership in the likes of President Joyce Banda, who when once on the mantle of power, are untouchable when seated on the ivory tower until they descend to face realty.

Debate on whether the remnants of the band after, the fall of Matafale and Musamude, have lived the mission is of another day.

But given that they still are perpetuating the mission, would they really serve the masses to sing against the ills of the government now that they have been fed the ‘scones’? I guess they have now been gagged.

Considering how the government gave Matafale a ‘five-star-treatment’ through the country’s tourist attractive Malawi Police Service ‘hotels’, would he be happy to make the trip to Ireland on the generous pedestal of the powers that be?

You have the better answer…

Feedback: drummingpen@columnist.com

Mobile:      0882233220

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About Gregory Gondwe - Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Gregory Gondwe is a Malawian journalist who started practising journalism in 1993. Until March 31, 2012 he was regional editor and bureau chief for Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS). Gregory is also a media consultant assisting several international journalists pursuing assignments in Malawi. He holds a Diploma of Journalism and an Intermediate Certificate in Journalism among other media-related certificates. He is also columnist for Malawi's first and oldest weekly, Malawi News. He can be contacted on gregorygondwe@gmail.com.
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