“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent on things that matter”-Martin Luther King Junior.
July 20, 2011, was the day Malawians refused to be silent when their country mattered!
Song verse of the day: Lucius Banda’s MABALA
“Mumati zizakhala choncho mpaka liti abale
Anthu a Mulungu sangakhale kulira masiku onse amoyo wawo
Analanda Ufumu kalero naupeleka kwa oyenela
Ndi chani chingamulake Ambuye Mulungu
Wa Chilungamo, Ndi wa Chikondi”
After days of tensions, verbal war, intimidating panga knives and display of sheer arrogance of the elected to those who elected them, July 20, 2011 arrived. Tensions were high, an arrogant administration the Late President Bingu wa Mutharika was out of touch with reality.
They chose July 20, to “Lecturer”Malawians on what could be done to salvage the situation created by their own arrogance, greed and poor governance. Malawians had a single message: Time up for wanton disregard of Human Rights, Poor Political and Economic Governance and simply tired of the Leaders.
“Those who shut their ears to the cry of the poor will themselves also call and not be heard. Injure not the poor because they are poor, nor crush the needy at the gate; for the Lord will defend their cause, and will plunder the lives of those who plunder them. A rich man who oppresses the poor is like a devastating rain that leaves no food. Like a roaring lion or a ravenous bear is a wicked ruler over a poor people.”
Three days preceding the day were tense.
First the Police refused permission to have national wide demonstrations. Later the they accepted.
The Sunday before the demonstrations Zodiak Private Radio station vehicle was attacked in broad day light. Another to be burnt two days before the demonstration. Others like Reverend MacDonald Sembereka whose preaching and pronouncements included “Only the Kingdom of God lasts forever” and Rafik Hajat had already tested the power of the ‘I am not son of God.’
One the eve of July 20, three pick ups full of DPP Youth cadets moved around the City of Blantyre singing “onyoza Bingu timpweteka” later at night, I received a call from someone I knew that they wanted to show me an injunction that had been obtained against the demonstrations. I smelled trouble.
I did not sleep at home, like many other occasions when it pleased the Late President Bingu wa Mutharika to accuse “The Nation” of being part of larger conspiracy to bring down his administration. I had made a personal decision to even stop attending his rallies or press briefing to the annoyance of some of my seniors.
I woke up and was in town around 6 am. There was heavy Police presence, one of them warned me not to proceed as they were told to bar everyone. I hid my red scarf, the symbol of the day that became real when blood was split. The rest was history.
However this day of liberation, taught us new values to defend our democracy and freedoms. To stand up for the truth and justice and more importantly to fight and die for our rights when someone wants to trample them.
July 20, with a sacrifice of 21 souls mercilessly killed by Malawi Police Service was a day of liberation. There were thousands of young people that went into the streets and defied everything else to proclaim our rights.
The 21 will always remain heroes. Contrary to what the Late President proclaimed, they did not die in vain. They died liberating the nation of Malawi.
MENE MENE TEKEL UPHARSIN: Daniel 5 verse 27 and 28. God measured the Bingu wa Mutharika Kingdom and found it wanting after July 20, 2011.
THE BLOOD OF THESE 21 HAUNTED THE LATE BINGU WA MUTHARIKA DAY AND NIGHT UNTIL HE GAVE UP LIFE. GOD SHOWED MALAWIANS AND THE WORLD, THAT LIFE, LEADERSHIP OF HIS PEOPLE AND HUMAN RIGHTS COME FROM HIM ALONE, HIM ALONE GOD LORD ALMIGHTY.
All mortal men, will born and die like the Late President Bingu wa Mutharika.
I remember my neighbor, a staunch Catholic Mr. Namasani who surpised even me, when he brought a wooden cross of Jesus Christ to the demonstrations. He is a quite man, we were beaten together at Lilongwe CCAP and despite praying the same church as late Bingu, he said enough is enough.
The other heroes were the Clergy all over, they prayed for the demonstrations, asked God to protect his Children. Lilongwe CCAP opened its doors and provided us sanctuary to hide when we were being hunted.
Nancy Tembo, Anjimile Oponyo, Dorothy Chirambo and many others were never called by the Commission of Inquiry which shamelessly avoided many of us. The Commission was even given my numbers, I offered to submit my testimony, I was disregarded because their conclusion was to apportion the blame to everyone.
Ned Nkumba, the young man from CEYCA write of a Police officer known as Makokezi who led an assault on the Lilongwe CCAP. Many have never understood what really happened at Lilongwe CCAP that day.
Some sympathetic Police officers had warned us as we made rounds in torched Lilongwe to be careful especially in the afternoon after the injunction was lifted. They told us a group of Journalists who were courageous enough to go and hide that run around the city during the ‘civil war’ in the streets of Lilongwe.
I can swear, the Black Maria that arrived around 2.45 at Lilongwe CCAP had been sent. It came from the back gate and forced its way into the compound, at a certain point dangerously shaking electric power pylons was sent as a strategy to kill Civil Society and the political leaders who had gathered there.
The black maria coming, forced everyone to sit down. The only challenge was that they could not kill Undule, Nancy Tembo, Peter Chinoko, Billy Mayaya, Anjimile Oponyo and other in public as they found out that among them were hordes of Journalists.
As Amos Gumulira puts it, “They asked to go out into the streets they had told us were not safe in the first place. Then two Land Cruisers came and blocked the exit and said we were to disperse. They started beating us immediately with gun buttons after getting angry that there were Journalists.”
The Police could have easily lied that Undule and company were fighting Police and they were killed. I called the then Inspector General of Police Peter Mukhito from our hiding dark place at Mema Studios where myself, Jacob Nankhonya and others had sought refugee.
MBC staff that hid us that day were heroes, we could not acknowledge them for the fear of them loosing their jobs. But they hid us in that dark Mema pit from where we were able to call Mukhito and tell him “You boys are beating and arresting Civil Society, Political and Media personnel.” We had no airtime but the message went and peoples lives were saved
July 20, was so successful in warning the stubborn leaders that people were no longer going to tolerate impunity. But most bootlickers especially Cabinet Ministers, told the old man lies upon lies.
The late Bingu hated the Nation newspaper group with passion, his cronies convinced him Undule and others were going to over throw his administration. The Church, including his own bishops were enemies and everybody became an enemy.
Today, several people close to late Bingu should remember what I told them “You will kill this old man with stress.”
This is after some creative minds had developed a list of Journalists being sponsored “By Vice President Joyce Banda” to undermine the administration. I was number 2 after Ralph Tenthani and my number 3 was Brian Banda. My words came to pass some 7 months later, I am glad two called me back and said you spoke the truth.
JB was a marked woman, Atupele the hunted, JZU was the insulted old man and every one was plotting evil against Bingu, he never looked at his contributions. His death proved an old adage “ukamafa mumayamba nkhutu ku gontha.”
“When the just prevail, the people rejoice; but when the wicked rule, the people groan. The just have a care for the rights of the poor; the wicked have no such concern. When the wicked prevail, crime increases, but their downfall the just will behold. There is a group whose teeth are swords and knives -- they devour the needy from the earth and the poor from among men.”
There are many lessons from July 2011. I am ashamed to say after visiting and condoling the families, all politicians are yet to return to the families with a message of hope and compensation.
I am ashamed that after Undule, Sembereka, Billy Mayaya, Benedict Kondowe and Trapence had fought so hard alongside Hajat and others in South, Moses Mkandawire and others in the North, a lot of greedy Civil Society jumped the gun and decided to organize demonstrations, split the group with accusations and later we lost momentum.
I am ashamed that many that spoke vigilantly today have gone quite in expectation of ‘a scone’ in form of Government appointment.
I thought after the change, we all still have a role in our respective fields to entrench democracy. To ensure that the Joyce Banda of yesterday when she was under attack on public media as a killer, thief and harlot, will continue to walk the promised path.
JB promised to walk the constitutional path, some of us believed her, defended her and we still pray that that’s the path she will maintain during her presidency. JB told me when she walked on foot to Maula Prison to see Atupele, “a necessary evil that we should be free.”That walk of pain was a walk of freedom, I pray that Madame President will change the Presidency and Leadership to servants and not masters of the people.
Ralph Kasambara was a champion of fighting the legal battles against the oppressed. I am still praying for him to walk that path from Capital Hill and replace vengeance which he experienced first hand, disregard to the law which was second culture of the Late Bingus administration replaced with rule of law, justice and equity for all.
Atupele Muluzi, rose as a symbol and champion of young people. His Governments first budget has very little or nothing about the youth he rightly said “were facing a huge crisis.” I want the Atupele, who told me at Maula, ‘tell everybody I am fine and in high spirits. The fight continues.’ Let the fight for the well being of Malawian youth, who danced, bled and were killed on the streets on July 20 not die. You are better placed to influence policy direction towards the betterment of young Malawians.
John Tembo, told us he supported the July 20 and he was going to walk on that day until the injunction came at 5am. I want the Leader of Opposition to stand up and continue his path of critiquing shortfalls by Government and not its cheer leader.
Reverend MacDonald Sembereka, the man whose words when he preached at St.Peters Cathedral at Area 3, some weak civil servants run away from the Church. You position is now of greater influence at State House, advise correctly. Among the key battles was the pension bill which rob Malawians freedom to invest after working for sometime. There many things the President will be told, remind her all the time “Only Gods reign is forever.”
Billy Mayaya, Undule Mwakasungula, Moses Mkandawire, Peter Chinoko, Martha Kwataine, Benedict Kondowe, Gift Trapence and all others in Civil Society, it is a God given role that you should be on the side of the poor not the powerful. The downtrodden not the authority.
Too many strikes a year later show that the anger inside Malawians is huge, can we start looking at their basic needs as we proclaim victory over economic and political malaise that engulfed the people.
Bishop Tengatenga delivered the message rightly to President Banda on 6 July. The many 100 days celebrations were out of touch with the pain Malawians have gone through. The pain will heal when people see much of their lives improve.
July 20, Malawi media rose to the occasion and I will always be proud of all colleagues in the profession and especially young Journalists who accompanied us into the war zone. At places and times they were more courageous than myself. This is Manuel Chibwana of Zodiak, George Mkandawire of Joy, Jacob Nankhonya of BNL and many of those we took a walk in those dangerous streets.
Finally, lives were lost, I believe strongly that we could have been among those killed that day. Isaac Kambwiri my friend and Amos Gumulira my Uncle got worst scars, or certificates of July 20 on their heads. I am always grateful to God for saving us that day. I am grateful to the diplomatic services, that time the US Embassy public affairs section led by Ben Canavan and the Late Mayeso Chirwa, the British High Commission led by Lewis Kulisewa. Honourable Joseph Njobvuyalema who called everyday to check how we were doing, Mbumba Achutan who called everyday not as a boss, but a concerned mother, Nancy Tembo and Anjimile Oponyo, Ruth Govati and Timothy Sandaram, Limbikani Chisi, my neighbours on Salima street who kept a vigil until I returned home, Dorothy Ngoma who arranged quick check ups. Our then drivers Ruben Jailosi and Kumwembe who were on top of our security, Steve Ndhlovu the tall man from Salima who kept the spirits high. This day as we remember the dead, injured and celebrate the contributions of many Malawians to reclaiming our freedom, I dedicate to Iliyaas Itimu and Allie Mwachande, the two colleagues, whose networking, intelligence gathering and sharing spirit made us sail through the difficult days and months after July 20.
Today the oppressed Malawians are free. I sleep without fear. I travel anywhere without checking my shoulder. I can be poor, but my freedom is the most precious thing that has kept me going.
I believe, in the next decade, all incoming Leaders starting with JB and Khumbo Kachali, will respect Malawians as human beings with equal value and intelligence. Not headless chickens, as someone wanted us to believe.
Malawians, I am proud of your gains. In 1959 you stood up against Colonials, many died but we got freedom in 1964. In 1992, Malawians stood up against dictatorship, we won in 1994. In 2002 we stood against third term, we won in 2005 and in 2011, we stood against dictatorship, we won in 2012. The period of winning our battles is becoming shorter.
The next dictator or oppressor of Gods people, will go the next day!
“God hears the cry of the oppressed. He is not deaf to the wail of the orphan, nor to the widow when she pours our her complaint. Do not the tears that stream down her cheek cry out against the one that causes them to fall? He who serves God willingly is heard, his petition reaches the heavens. The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds' it does not rest until it reaches its goal. Nor will it withdraw till the Most High responds, judges justly and affirms the right.”
Stand up and say a silent prayer to the following souls dead or injured by Malawi Police Service on July 20! May their gallant souls be rewarded in heaven.
Mene Mene Tekel Ufarisn
God Bless Malawi! Long Live Our Democracy.
PUBLICLY AND WITHOUT SHAME, THE LATE BINGU WA MUTHARIKA, DR. HETHERWICK NTABA, SYMON VUWA KAUNDA AND MBC BRANDED THESE MALAWIANS AS THUGS, LOOTERS AND VAGABONDS. THEY HAVE NEVER APOLOGISED FOR THE INSULT. IN MEMORY OF THESE INNOCENT PEOPLE HERE IS THE LIST AND HOW THEY DIED OR WERE INJURED. OTHERS ARE MISSING BECUASE THE COMMISSION OF INQUIRY WAS VERY SELECTIVE AND SHAMEFUL:
List of people who lost their lives in Lilongwe City and cause of each Death.
|No.||Name||Age||Sex||Home District||Hospital Post mortem||Cause of Death||Circumstances of Death|
|1||Luka Ignasio||38||M||Dedza||Open crush fracture to bilateral femur||Death due to hemorrhagic shock||Shot within the vicinity of Malangalanga Kulima Store during riots|
|2||George Thekera||21||M||Chiradzulu||Deep wound of the roof on the mouth through the palate with a lot of bone.||Death due to severe head injuries||Shot within the vicinity of Kawale PTC Shop during riots|
|3||Elida Kampira||24||F||Lilongwe||Not provided||Death due to basal skull fracture||Shot in Biwi Area during riots|
|4||Lovemore Navira||19||M||Thyolo||Penetrating wound to the chest||Death due to haemopneumothorax||Shot within the vicinity of Area 25 Chipiku Shop|
|5||Edward Phiri||24||M||Ntchisi||Not provided||Gunshot on the forehead||Shot in Lumbadzi during riots|
|6||Michael Ayami||24||M||Lilongwe||Not provided||Haemorrhage shock due to gunshot||Shot in Chigwirizano during riots|
|List of No.||Name||Age||Sex||Home District||Hospital Post mortem||Cause of Death||Circumstances of Death|
|1||Joseph Lengemani||31||M||Salima||Suspected gunshot that let to loss of blood||Dead on arrival. Was just damped at Ndirande Health Centre on 21st July. Police and DHO collected the body to Queens Mortuary||Shot in the vicinity of Ndirande PTC.|
|2||John Mmora||13||M||Mulanje||Suspected gunshot that led to loss of blood||Dead on arrival. Was just damped at Ndirande Health Centre on 21st July. Police and DHO collected the body to Queens Mortuary||Shot in the vicinity of Ndirande PTC.|
List of people who lost their lives in Mzuzu City and Karonga Township and cause of each Death97
|97 Source: No.||Name||Age||Sex||Home District||Hospital post mortem||Cause of Death||Circumstances of Death|
|1||Mabvuto Banda||35||M||Karonga||A bruise on the back posterior aspect on the right side around thoracic rib no 10 suspected to be entry point of the bullet. A very traumatic anterior left side of the chest with blood collection (clots) between the chest muscles and the ribs. Wound/openings on the left upper lobe of the lungs in the medial aspect. Wound/openings on the upper aspect of the liver, entry and left ventricular opening. A bullet ballistic found buried in the chest muscles. Also a laceration on 4th intercostals space through where the bullet was traced.||Haemorrhagic shock secondary to traumatized heart, lung and liver due to gunshot||Shot with the vicinity of Karonga market|
|2||Samson Ngulube||23||M||Mzimba||Transverse punctured wound on proximal abdomen left wound bigger than right one.||Ruptured Viscera – liver due to gunshot||Shot in the vicinity of Central Development Shop|
|3||Jacob Nyangali||24||M||Mzimba||Punctured wound on the back Punctured wound on the stratum area-bigger than the back one||Ruptured Viscera – liver due to gunshot||Shot in the vicinity of Azizi Shop|
|4||Aaron Chitenje||N/A||M||unknown||Open fracture on the left thigh Massive tissue destruction on the left thigh Bleeding heavily from thigh||Severe bleeding due to gunshot||Shot in the vicinity of at Central Development Shop|
|5||Chimwemwe Ngwira||21||M||Mzimba||No wound Foaming and had no shirt Petechial haemorrhage in the eyes Nutritionally well||Asphyxia due to teargas||Suffocated during clashes with the police near Katoto Freedom Park|
|6||King Msuku||43||M||Nkhatabay||Big punctured wound in the chest Small punctured wound in the back Bleeding heavily on the wound Only one entry wound||Ruptured viscera with bid vessels due to gunshot||Shot in the vicinity of Azizi Shop|
|7||Charles Chibambo||33||M||Mzimba||Punctured wound directly on the left ear Punctured wound on the occipital skull – bigger than the ear one Bleeding from ears and nostrils||Ruptured viscera and external bleeding due to gunshot||Found dead along Rose Chibambo Road|
|8||Julius Kaunda||38||M||Mzimba||Punctured wound on the left and right chest |
Ruptured spleen –
|Head injuries due to gunshot||Shot in the vicinity of at Central Development|
|9||Abel Kanyenda||19||M||Mzimba||Small punctured wound on the left neck||Ruptured viscera- spleen, bowels and stomach due to gunshot||Found dead along Rose Chibambo Road|
|10||Adam Banda||25||M||Lilongwe||Big punctured wound on the right mouth cheek Wounds communicating||Head injuries due to gunshot||Found dead along Rose Chibambo Road|
LIST OF THE INJURED
|No.||Name||Age||Home District||Cause of Injury||Circumstance under which injury was sustained|
|1||Madalitso Seyani||16||Mulanje||Gunshot at the left side of his neck||Injured in Chilomoni area|
|2||Philip Nkutu||26||Blantyre||Not provided||Not provided|
|3||Sam Kalipinde||40||Blantyre||Not provided||Not provided|
|4||Grivin Imedi||37||Salima||Gunshot on the left leg||Injured in Mbayani area|
|6||Lackson Missi||18||Thyolo||Gunshot on the right elbow||Injured in Limbe|
|7||Mphatso Mphoka||25||Kasungu||Gunshot on the abdomen||Injured in Chirimba|
|8||Denson Luhanga||15||Dedza||Gunshot on left shoulder|
|98 Source: No.||Name||Age||Area||Cause of Injury||Circumstance under which injury was sustained|
|1||Stanley Richard||Not provided||Not provided||Not provided||Not provided|
|2||Moses Soko||28||CCDC||Gun short||Shot while running away from the violence at CCDC|
|3||Kassim Akron||Not known||Gunshot||Not provided|
|4||Mabvuto Phabiano||Gunshot||Not provided|
|5||Samson Malekwa||18||Area 36||Gunshot, right leg||Not provided|
|6||Issa Laison||Gunshot||Not provided|
|7||Kelvin Matola||25||Area 36||Gunshot wound – right ankle||Not provided|
|8||Alexander Staliko||26||Chilinde||Lacerations – head||Not provided|
|9||Amiton Mthawanji||28||Biwi||Fracture and abrasions – right hand fingers||Not provided|
|10||Amos Gumulira||47||Area 23||Beaten by Police officers||He was hiding at Lilongwe CCAP Church Compound with CSO leaders|
|11||Isaac Kambwiri||30||Biwi||Beaten by Police officers||He was hiding at Lilongwe CCAP Church Compound with CSO leaders|
|12||Cedric White||23||Kawale II||Beaten by Police officers||Not known|
|13||Kingsley Chapondela||25||Kawale I||Beaten by Police officers||Not known|
|14||Mphatso Mwanela||25||Chinsapo||Beaten by the Police||Not known|
|15||Ned Nkumba||27||Area 23||Contusions and fracture – rib||Not known|
|16||Patrick Matope||21||Chinsapo II||Gun Shot in the head||Not known|
|17||Titus Banda||23||Biwi||Gunshot, right leg||Not known|
|18||Levison Banda||32||Kawale||Gunshot forearm and lumber spine||Not known|
|19||Jacob Nankhonya||33||Kawale||Gunshot forearm||Not known|
|20||Cedric Mumba||28||Kawale||Injury on the head and pelvis due to gunshot||Not known|
|21||Emmanuel Nzeruzatha||17||Area 23||Injury on the head due to gunshot||Not known|
|22||Emmanuel Phiri||8||Chinsapo II||Injury on the head due to gunshot||Not known|
|23||Peter Chinoko||47||Likuni||Injury on the arm due to gunshot||Not known|
|24||Leonard Shala||Falls||Gunshot||Not known|
|25||Christina Chisale||Area 24||Cut wound on head||Not known|
|26||William Basikolo||22||Biwi||Injury on the head and shoulder due to gunshot||Not known|
|27||Patrick Moffat||23||Area 36||Injury on the abdomen and knee due to gunshot||Not known|
|28||Peter Semu||9||Area 23||Injury on the left elbow||Not known|
|29||Potasio Alberito||13||Chigwirizano||Injured on the leg due to gunshot||Not known|
|30||Scorry Phiri||16||Njewa||Gunshot chest|
|31||Shumba Damazio||67||Area 49||Laceration face||Injured within his compound|
|32||Stanely Zakaria||28||Lumbadzi||Gun shot on the foot||Shot while coming from garden|
|33||Thokozani Masanza||28||Mtandile||Gunshot||Not known|
|34||Undule Mwakasungula||N/A||Biwi||Body injury||Beaten by police officers at Lilongwe CCAP Compound|
|35||Billy Mayaya||N/A||Biwi||Body injury||Beaten by police officers at Lilongwe CCAP Compound|
List of people who sustained injuries in Mzuzu City and cause of each Injury and circumstances under which the Injuries were sustained100
|100 Source: No.||Name||Age||Home District||Cause of Injury||Circumstance under which injury was sustained|
|1||Chaufu Mwandemange||31||Karonga||Gunshot, left thigh||Not known|
|2||Steven Soko||29||Mzimba||Gunshot, left femur||Not known|
|3||Esther Phiri||25||Karonga||Gunshot, right foot||Not known|
|4||Mary Kasale||17||Mulanje||Gunshot, left leg||Not known|
|5||Winston Mpuluka||26||Chiradzulo||Injured by sharp window glass while running from the violence||While running from the violence|
|6||Michael Simkonda||16||Chitipa||Gun shot in the pelvic region||Not known|
|7||Mary Wilson||13||Mangochi||Fracture due to falling down while running from the violence||While running from the violence|
|8||Mphatso Gondwe||13||Karonga||Gunshot, right thigh||Not known|
|9||Golden Kalua||37||Mzimba||Gunshot, right knee||Not known|
|10||Andrew Nyasulu||29||Mzimba||Gunshot, right shoulder||Not known|
|11||Fred Ngulube||15||Mzimba||Gunshot, right femur||Not known|
|12||Alex Jabiri||24||Mangochi||Fractured skull after being hit by the Police||Hit by Police|
|13||Robert Kuwali||34||Nkhatabay||Gunshot in the abdomen||Not known|
|14||Joseph Banda||34||Mulanje||Gunshot||Not known|
|15||James Phiri||23||Dedza||Gunshot||Not known|
|16||Juwa Timeo||19||Mzimba||Gunshot in the abdomen||Not known|
|17||Elia Munthali||15||Gunshot, left thigh||Not known|
KARONGA INJURED LIST
|No.||Name||Age||Home District||Cause of Injury||Circumstance under which injury was sustained|
|1||Madalitso Mponda||17||Karonga||Gunshot on the left hand||Not known|
|2||Chancy Mwanyongo||22||Karonga||Gunshot on the left femur||Not known|
|3||Michael Mwambila||26||Karonga||Gunshot on the left proximal arm||Not known|
|4||Kondwani Jere||34||Karonga||Gunshot on the left thigh||Not known|
|5||Winfred Ngosi||18||Karonga||Gunshot on the right femur and thigh||Not known|
|6||Owen Sichali||17||Karonga||Gunshot on the cheek||Not known|
|7||Ella Ndileke||18||Karonga||Gunshot on the left foot||Shot within her compound at the veranda|
|8||Bertha Ndileke||19||Karonga||Gunshot on the calf of the right leg||Shot within her compound at the veranda|