Aids, the Church and Traditional Leaders
A quite weekend for my good country Malawi. Of course some politician was up and down drumming the hype for his dislodged "ruling party", but the guy to me is justified, when you miss the boat by sticking your nose in politics and then retire from retirement-you get a raw deal.
The guy is a charmer, I am sure even Robert Mugabe who was his godfather during his wedding in 1999, could have listened to his jokes and change his ruthless antics over Morgan Tsvangirai. Of course am still analysing the Zimbabwe campaign adverts, that is the March 29 election not the one-man-band show on June 27th. It sad my freinds are in the same situation they were in after voting, by free will and choice-on March 29 and through hook and threats on June 27.
I have a small vegetable gardern, I am now enjoying straight-from the garden rape and chinese and my "mpiru" cabbage and another set of rape seems to be rushing to become edibles. Apart from my love of garderning, I am still reading philosophy with University of London, while at the same time, I like cartoon movies. May be because I am try to understand how some adults think like Children. These are my main occupations nowadays, apart from casual drinking and developing concepts, proposals and attending meetings all over town.
I was in Balaka last thursday-where we had a Nurses day commemoration by the National Organisation of Nurses and Midwives in Malawi (NONM), it was sad to learn that someone vandalised the solar power system at the Chiendausiku Health centre, rendering night operations and the rural clinic useless. I was touched by the strong sentiments the Member of Parliament Enerst Malenga-who coincidentaly is Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security made against vandalism and people harrassing nurses. I hope the Minister will live to his word.
Of course Khumbo Kachali seems to assimilate into any office quickly, that as I learnt- since I was the mater of ceremony that for a famale nurse our local language calls them NAMWINO while the male ones are now MWINO. Khumbo is now the Chief MWINO for all male nurses- we will talk of this later.
I leave BBC running throughout the day and night, I am sure thieves and night scientists who come home are very irritated by my bad habit of running a radio throughout the night. But of course, as I argue with Micheal Mkandawire around 4am I shuffle around Christian radio stations like Transworld and Channel for All nations-for morning devotions.
There is a programme aired on Transworld Radio every other day, it sounds like a counselling programme and is done by a pastor or some religious person who gets letters from the public and provides biblical-based answers.
I have just forgotten the actual day, but this morning a guy from Bvumbwe was asking this radio counsellor how he could resist women when he is selling in his shop and also if he could be 'sinning' if he continued musterbation. It is something that caught my ears that I stopped looking for another channel.
The preacher or counsellor turned out to be a disappointment, I know my colleague Victor Kawonga will read this and take approrpiate action. Instead of just answering the poor boy on what to do when women put him into temptation, he went on to subject women who are HIV positive into the well known Church-sinner stigma.
The preacher went on like, "ukawona chinkazi chili tho tho, iwe nkumasilira upwetekeka, chir pa ma ARV, masiku ano anthu akungobisala mmankhwala....
Not really a direct quote but he went on to advise the young man not to admire the fat or good looking women who might be on Anti-Retroviral Therapy but look as healthy.
I found the sentiment as very misplaced and out of the basic Christian love. I am not sure if this preacher who clearly is rebuking people on ARV or subjecting them to another human level, knows that just like Aids, there are more than 10 diseases that have no cure and are as deadly as Aids and yet he does not subject them to denial and finger-pointing examples as he just did.
I know he will say I did not mean to degrade people taking ARV's, but this is the problem with most of the preachers today, the "holy than thou" attitude. That preachers can sin too has been forgotten and they have actually wiped out their own responsibility to preach love and compassion to all those that are in need and those that look upon to them to deliver.
I am sure, in this country, we have hundreds of preists and preachers who are on ARVand I am not sure if this character knows that their wives also look as 'healthy' and his wife and others.
I hope the radio will find time to train this pastors and other radio preachers to be sensitive to issues of stigma and discrimination.
From this pastor who is very against people on ARV, I was just amused at OR Tambo Airport on how some people behave in the name of the same God.
I met at the boarding gate Bishop Dr. James Tengatenga, a theologian with the Anglican Church and immediately we spoke a lot on the quality of the media in Malawi. He challenged me that most of the stories done are never researched and lack depth and understanding. I suggested to the Bishop that we could do a breakfast meeting with the press that he could be the guest and talk with the media his ideas. I found them well meaning.
He was simply dressed though coming from Jerusalem and he was cheerful to all and he looked at ease throughout our flight to Blantyre. Contrast him with three pentecoastal preachers, the other one was with his wife, dressed to kill and separated themselves from everyone.
I noticed Bishop Tengatenga took time to humble himself, despite him being the head of a larger Church than the Apostle, went to greet him and exchanged a few pleasantries. I was not suprised that the Apostle were travelling Business Class, while My Bishop sat in the economy. I felt sad for the poor people who gave their money willingly while their pastors do not know anything about being modest. I mean it costs USD1200 to fly business while economy ranges from 300 to 500. If they could have saved the half and use it to feed the hungry poor.
The other two a pastor and another pentecoast Bishop, sat in the economy, I noticed the took enough juice but had a surpise for me at the end. They waited until everybody emptied from the plane. I was on the last seat so they had difficulties to get rid of me.
They disembarked with me still at the back, the crowd there started to cheer and waved like what I have seen the President do at all times and smiled. I was in for another shock. These people use VIP lounges. My modest Bishop was with use to "havenots" arrival gates, but these pentecoast preachers are not Very Improtant Persons. I asked a policeman who is my freind what the hell was happening-he told me it was normal as they had applied for it.
I smiled later in the afternoon when a plane coming from Lilongwe landed and two pastos alighted from it, I bet K1000 with my mad freind that they will use the VIP, he could not believe it when he lost his money which went into extra shots of Brandy.
Just on Saturday, I saw at Crossroads Complex another Man of God, who has a huge church and speaks like an American. But he also displayed a very contrast of what modest people can do, he was standing on a National Bank ATM machine with every jim and jack. The line was quite long but he looked patient and waited just like anyone else. I thought of the others I said, may be some were indeed called to the service that they feel conteted and act normal, while others they have just 'jumped the ship" and look for earthly glories.
I am still amused by the sharp characters we call Men of God that I just observed. Of course in another Church, a very vocal anti-alcohol and anti-sex-outside marraige preacher has just eloped with someone's wife and is asking his wife of 20 plus years to move out of home. I am yet to look him into his eyes and appreciate his messages we were subjected to for the last 6 years he has been in my church.
Finally, Traditional leaders in Malawi are talking, I was happy with Chief Mazengera's proposal on One TA one MP, Themba Chikulamayembe has not minced words on the current political impasse and more importantly Chief Kwitanda on behalf of T/A Msamala rebuked habits of some people who wait to walk home or address rallies at night to date some people's wives. He said this spreads HIV and he does not want it in his area. Chief Kapeni in Blantyre is talking of abstinance as the best option in containing HIV and Aids.
I say listen to our Chiefs-they are talking.