I WELCOME you!

Dear Good People,

I warmly welcome you to my Blog and it is my profound hope that you will find it useful and worth the time you spend on it. On this Blog, I have posted some of the articles and pieces that I have writen just for record purposes and also for sharing. You might have read these articles in the papers but it could also be possible that you missed them.


Please be advised that these are my toughts and purely my opinions. You are free to comment on them and/or to critic them. I will appreciate any of your comments.

Thank You.

Hastings Maloya
+265 888864241 or +265 999950953

About Me

Mulanje, Southern Region, Malawi
Is an experienced journalist, writer, specialist in development communications, public relations, publications, desktop publishing, information technology, photography, environmental education and rural development. Hastings Maloya is currently working as Programme Officer responsible for Environmental Education, Awareness and Communications for the Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust (MMCT) since September 1, 2002. Hastings, comes from Tradional Authority Mabuka in Mulanje District, is an Adventist Christian, and has two daughters Eva and Eve.
BINGU - A high class leader who never forgot his roots by Hastings Maloya His Excellency Ngwazi Professor Bingu wa Mutharika who died on April 6, 2012 was not only the President of the Republic of Malawi, he was traditionally a true son of Malawi who was never influenced by western ideologies. As we celebrate his life today, we thank God that for 78 years, among us lived a man who truly believed that whatever accomplishments one attains, it is important to preserve culture and tradition. According to available records both local and international, late Professor Bingu wa Mutharika went to India where he earned his Bachelor's degree in Economics. Subsequently, he attended the Delhi School of Economics graduating with a M.A. degree in economics. He later obtained a PhD degree in development economics from pacific western university. The late Professor also completed courses on business management, financial analysis, trade promotion, political leadership, regional economic co-operation and human relations. The late Professor Mutharika then served in the Malawi civil service. He has served as Administrative Officer in the Government of Malawi and Zambia. He was offered the Deputy Governorship of the Reserve Bank of Malawi and appointed Minister of Economic Planning and Development in 2002. He also worked at the World Bank and at the United Nations Economic Commission of Africa, and was once Secretary General of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa COMESA, covering 22 member states. And here is a man, despite all his impeccable accomplishments, he never forgot his roots. He remembered where he came from and strived to promote his culture. Late Professor Bingu wa Mutharika, popularly known as Mapwiya Muulupalhe, among the Lhomwe folks, will fondly be remembered as founder and patron of Mulhako wa Alhomwe. Mulhako wa Alhomwe, which has become household name, is a non-governmental, non-religious, non-political and non-profit making organization formed with the aim of reviving, developing, promoting and preserving the Alhomwe traditions, culture, customs and cultural heritage. Bingu himself was a lhomwe to the heart. He knew the tribe’s traditions, customs and beliefs. He knew its dances and costumes. His promotion for culture was genuine and no wonder Mulhako wa Alhowe –which means a gateway to the Lhomwe culture and tradition - was dear to his heart. Headquartered at Chonde in Mulanje district, the cultural grouping aims at developing, reviving and preserving the history, traditions, culture and customs of the Ahlomwe people with the view of enhancing their awareness, knowledge understanding and appreciation of their origins, roots and heritage. The organisation also encourages the Ahlomwe people to learn, speak and write their language as a means of developing and preserving their identity. In his own words, the late Ngwazi Professor Bingu wa Mutharika said it had been his childhood idea to form a cultural heritage grouping that would promote the Lhomwe culture. This was in realization that the Lhomwe culture was dying a slow and painful death. Late Mutharika said he founded Mulhako wa Alhomwe to provide exposure to cultural traditions of the Lhomwe tribe. Launched on October 25, 2008, the grouping has enabled the Alhomwe people to develop and appreciate their dances, songs, yarns, proverbs, folklores, arts and crafts, thereby enhancing their contribution to the social, cultural and economic development of Malawi. Since the formation of Mulhako wa Alhomwe, the Alhomwe people across Malawi have come out and formed different committees with their cultures and traditional dances exposed. The association has also promoted cordial working relationships among different cultures in Malawi through exchange visits. The Alhomwe people constitute the second largest tribe in Malawi. Notwithstanding the significant contributions by the tribe to the social, cultural and economic development of Malawi, documented reports and records of non-Alhomwe researchers show that the Alhomwe had always been relegated to play an insignificant role in the cultural development of this country. The colonial administrations were largely responsible for implementing derogatory policies and attitudes that excluded the Alhomwe from the mainstream of social and cultural evolution of this country. It is not surprising therefore that Lhomwe rich traditions, culture and customs disappeared over the years, and many Lhomwe people changed their names and preferred to hid their identify in order to survive the social and cultural onslaught. The launch of the Mulhako wa Alhomwe marked as the renaissance of a culture that was dying. However, it was not all rosy as other quarters expressed fears that the group was established for political purposes. Mapwiya Muulhupalhe Bingu wa Mutharika, maintained that he never initiated the formation of the group on political grounds. “This is not a political or religious grouping,” said Wa Mutharika adding, “the group is about promoting Alhomwe cultural and traditional values including our language." Mutharika insisted that by preserving a culture, one keeps the traditions, family values, sociological standards, morals and language and maintains personal identity. Today Lhomwe is no longer a forgotten tribe. After reviving its cultural beliefs, traditions, language, songs, dances and the known unique cultural living, Lhomwe is now positioned on the international map, with support from United Nations. Through its Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the world body supported the inventory of intangible cultural heritage of the Lhomwe culture at grass roots level. An intensive inventory research and field work in Mulanje, Thyolo, Chiradzulu, Zomba and Phalombe districts unearthed the unique living of the Lhomwe people, their heritage documented and a recollection of the way of life traced. Lhomwe was recognised in a project on “Community Based Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage” funded by UNESCO in collaboration with the Flanders Fund-In-Trust Cooperation. This was a pilot project in six selected countries in Sub-Saharan Africa which included Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland, Uganda and Zambia. According to UNESCO officials, the Lhomwe community was chosen largely because, unlike in other regions where similar activities have been done before, very little if any, had been done to expose the culture of southern region at global level. And Lhomwe was seen to be better organised through its cultural heritage grouping, the Mulhako wa Alhomwe. This was a landmark in the history of Malawi that culture and cultural heritage can be systematically and professionally documented as this will help to maintain our history for the sake of the future generations. While others will remember him as a politician, others will remember him as an economist; some will remember him as a believer in culture and tradition. Ngwazi Professor Bingu wa Muthariaka may be gone but his legacy lives on

On the First Lady - Madam Callista Mutharika


She deserves a salary
By Hastings Maloya

I always find it difficult and of course tricky to comment on issues related to the country’s highest office – the State House. In all aspect, this office deserves respect. In respecting the office, one also respects the powers that this office has and recognises appointments that this office makes, especially when the appointments are not legally erroneous.

There are countries, others very close to us, where its citizens cannot comment on issues related to the state house or office of the presidency. In Malawi things are different as we are free and able to discuss, comment and make opinions on issues related to the presidency. As an extension of the freedom, here we are today debating whether the first lady should be receiving a salary on her position as coordinator of Safe Motherhood programme in Malawi. I dare say, the position deserves a salary.

It is undeniable that negative news sells. When news came out from whichever source alleging that the first lady has a contract and is salaried, it had been exciting news and was hot both in print and electronic media including gossips among gatherings. Much of the comments and opinions that we have seen and heard are negative. Not many have been able to agree that it’s necessary to pay the coordinator. As usual communicating positive stories is challenging.

The first lady has been accused of drawing salary for charity work. One wonders if indeed what she is doing could be described as charity or that the crime is that she is married to the President. My understanding is that the Safe Motherhood programme seeks to promote the advancement of women and vulnerable populations in all sectors of our rapidly changing and developing society especially in the rural areas with an aim of developing women's leadership, improving health care for women and girls, reducing gender-based violence, and promoting the education of girls. This is not charity. This is work!

The empowerment of women is central to any agenda of sustainable development, democratization, and social cohesion. The education of girls and young people is essential for cultivating responsible and productive citizens.

The government of Malawi has shown its commitment to the improvement of the status of women. It has therefore taken the President to appoint a coordinator to be responsible for issues of safe motherhood. This shows commitment form the high office and needs to be a collective endeavour that must involve government, civil society, and the active participation of all citizens.

Perhaps we don’t understand safe motherhood, so we don’t appreciate the importance of that programme whose goal is to contribute to improved quality of life among poor people especially women, young people, children and vulnerable families living in rural areas by facilitating socioeconomic development.

We should imagine a decrease in number of girl-children dropping out of primary and secondary schools on the basis of social pressures, economic hardships and unconducive learning environment and also increased awareness among communities on socio-cultural practices that increase women’s vulnerability to gender-based violence, contraction of STIs/HIV, cancer of cervix and practices that negatively influence gender orientation and stereo-typing.

Surely to achieve this and more, this programme is not a charity. It is an activity that requires measurable indicators with a full time salaried coordinator. The organisation will be fundraising and it is wrong to make sweeping statements as tax-payers paying.

It must be noted and agreed that the first lady is not only marketable. She is qualified, dedicated and experienced. From her days at Hunger Project and the impact of that project to her being an MP let alone minister there are traces of positive delivery of services. One could also notice that the moment she became coordinator she has already attracted funding in excess of what could have been expected. Media reports also indicated that there have been discussions with the South African musician Yvonne Chaka Chaka on fundraising for children and they launched a vaccination programme in December in Lilongwe.

Achievements are being realised. The best example is the training of midwives from rural areas, and they will work in rural areas. This is a rare programme that will bridge the gap between hospitals and traditional birth attendants (TBAs). This will help in increased proportion of women, young people, vulnerable families, and children accessing holistic and quality integrated reproductive, child health and child development services.

Then there have been arguments that the previous holder of the position, Madam Joyce Banda never drew any salary for the work. This argument is very unfortunate as it is being wrongly equated. It requires no explanation that the previous holder, who actually was a Goodwill Ambassador for Safe Motherhood, was not a coordinator and in practice a civil servant could not be drawing two salaries. When an elected MP becomes a minister, one does not draw two salaries hence the Vice President could not draw another salary. These two people are different and its wrong to equate them in a comparison.


*The writer is a social commentator writing in his personal capacity

attached picture: Malawi’s Callista Mutharika with the German’s First Lady Bettina Wulff when they met in Berlin (source internet)

New project launched to improve ecological status of Mt Mulanje


New project launched to improve ecological status of Mt Mulanje
by Hastings Maloya
A project meant to improve the lives of people and protect Mulanje Mountain Forest Reserve has been launched here.

Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the $3 million Mount Mulanje MOBI+LISE Project, was initiated Tuesday at Kambenje Full Primary School ground in the area of Senior Chief Nkanda in Mulanje district.

Malawi’s director of forestry Dr. Dennis Kayambazinthu applauded several organizations working on this project, noting that in past the country lost its natural resources because there was a lack of cooperation among interested parties.

“It’s time we worked together. Environmental management and conservation of natural resources should be a responsibility of all especially through working together. I have no doubt that this project will be a success as it has different stakeholders working together,” said Dr. Kayambazinthu.

Also speaking at the launch which had a good turnout, Mulanje district commissioner Jack Ngulube said communities can expect to develop when they have natural resources that were preserved and used wisely.

“Development can not only be infrastructures. We need natural resources like trees and water if people are to fully be involved in the economic development of the country,” said Ngulube who also thanked USAID for its support.

Mulanje Mountain, the tallest in southern African with a rich and unique plant and animal species, was approved as a Global Biosphere Reserve by the UNESCO in 2000. Communities targeted in Mulanje and Phalombe in this project are those in close proximity—about 10 kilometers--to the mountain as they depend on it for their water, food and income.

But uncontrolled demand say on trees for firewood exerts too much pressure on this limited resource. And experts warn that bare land as result of trees being removed wantonly leads to erosion, the lowering of the water table and drought. The whole ecosystem gets affected.

Against that harsh reality, the USAID Mount Mulanje MOBI+LISE Project was initiated to support the people in the communities by introducing them to best practices in resources utilization and management.

The project, which should benefit about 53,995 households from 132 villages around the mountain, is also anticipated to achieve the following outcomes: increased community involvement in protected area management; diversified crop production with good husbandry practices and land resource management; diversified mountain resource utilization opportunities; improved local community development capacity; and, diversified and improved biomass and renewable energy use.

This three-year project has seen the following organizations and institutions working together: Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust (MMCT), the Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi (WESM), Concern Universal (CU) and Mulanje and Phalombe district councils.



Read more: http://www.maravipost.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4299:project-to-improve-lives-environment-launches-in-mulanje&catid=52:district&Itemid=122#ixzz15Z8lUgH0

UNESCO recognizes Lhomwe cultural heritage
by Hastings Maloya

A break through!

It is no longer a forgotten tribe. After reviving its cultural beliefs, traditions, language, songs, dances and the known unique cultural living, Lhomwe is now proudly moving towards being positioned on the international map, courtesy of the support from United Nations.

Through its Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the world body has supported the inventory of intangible cultural heritage of the Lhomwe culture on a grass roots level. A three-week inventory through an intensive research and field work in Mulanje, Thyolo, Chiradzulu, Zomba and Phalombe districts has unearthed the unique living of the Lhomwe people. Their heritage is now documented and a recollection of the way of life can easily be traced.

This follows a project on “Community Based Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage” funded by UNESCO in collaboration with the Flanders Fund-In-Trust Cooperation. This is a pilot project in six selected countries in Sub-Saharan Africa which include Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland, Uganda and Zambia.

In Malawi, the Lhomwe community was chosen largely because, unlike in other regions where similar activities have been done before, very little if any, had been done to expose the culture of southern region at global level. And Lhomwe was seen to be better organised through its cultural heritage grouping, the Mulhako wa Alhomwe.
The project was coordinated by the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture.

Speaking at the official launch of the project, which started with a capacity building workshop for community representatives who did the inventorying, former Deputy Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture Hon. Shadreck Jonas said this was a landmark in the history of Malawi that culture and cultural heritage can be systematically and professionally documented as this will help to maintain our history for the sake of the future generations.

“In most countries, cultural heritage is well documented to the extent that one can learn, know and understand any cultural belief by reading in books – a thing that has been missing in Malawi,” said Hon. Jonas adding that it was exciting now that the Lhomwe heritage has finally been recognized internationally.”

“Lhomwe was selected because it has a well structured body as Mulhako wa Alhomwe which aims at reviving the Lhomwe culture and traditions,” he said while thanking UNESCO for the financial support towards the project.

The workshop, which was facilitated by the Director of Culture in the Ministry Dr. E. Chindebvu, UNESCO’s Director of Culture in Southern Africa Mrs. Mulekeni Ngulube from Zimbabwe and Cultural expert from UNESCO Mr. Stephen Chifunyise, was the key to the opening of new horizons.

Mr. Lovemore Mazibuko, Acting Director of Culture responsible for Museums, who facilitated the project, described it as a great success and expressed hope that it will enrich Malawi’s cultural heritage with UNESCO.

Among several other things, the inventory looked into oral traditions and expressions that include proverbs, riddles, tales, nursery rhymes legends, myths, epic songs, poems, chants and prayers.

“We also looked into performing arts,” says Owen Stima one among the young Lhomwe people that conducted the inventor. “We also concentrated on social practices, rituals and festive events,” adds Sitima. These includes worship rites, rites of passage, birth, weddings and funeral rites, oaths of allegiance, traditional legal systems, traditional games and sports, kinship rituals, kinship ceremonies, settlement patterns, culinary traditions, seasonal ceremonies, practices specific to men, practices specific to women, hunting, fishing and gathering practices.

Traditional Authority Chikumbu says this inventory and the findings shall help young Lhomwe people to appreciate their culture and be proud of their tradition. She was excited with the inventory on traditional ecological wisdom, indigenous knowledge, knowledge about local fauna and flora, traditional herbing systems, rituals, beliefs, initiation rites, cosmologies, possession rites, social organizations and festivals.

In traditional craftsmanship, the inventory looked at tools, clothing and jewellery, costumes and props for festival of performing arts, storage containers, transport and shelter, decorative art, rituals objects, musical instruments, household utensils and toys for amusement or education.

Mulhako wa Alhomwe is meanwhile working on means on how to protect the intangible cultural heritage by allowing practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills and associated manifestations to be sustainably maintained by the communities, groups and or individuals concerned.

Data gathered is electronically recorded and transcribed into a written form without changing its meaning. The documented information shall be given to the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture with another copy kept in the Museum of Malawi and the other copy to Mulhako Wa Alhomwe for reference.

On Lhomwe Cultural Heritage

UNESCO recognizes Lhomwe cultural heritage
by Hastings Maloya

A break through!

It is no longer a forgotten tribe. After reviving its cultural beliefs, traditions, language, songs, dances and the known unique cultural living, Lhomwe is now proudly moving towards being positioned on the international map, courtesy of the support from United Nations.

Through its Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the world body has supported the inventory of intangible cultural heritage of the Lhomwe culture on a grass roots level. A three-week inventory through an intensive research and field work in Mulanje, Thyolo, Chiradzulu, Zomba and Phalombe districts has unearthed the unique living of the Lhomwe people. Their heritage is now documented and a recollection of the way of life can easily be traced.

This follows a project on “Community Based Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage” funded by UNESCO in collaboration with the Flanders Fund-In-Trust Cooperation. This is a pilot project in six selected countries in Sub-Saharan Africa which include Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland, Uganda and Zambia.

In Malawi, the Lhomwe community was chosen largely because, unlike in other regions where similar activities have been done before, very little if any, had been done to expose the culture of southern region at global level. And Lhomwe was seen to be better organised through its cultural heritage grouping, the Mulhako wa Alhomwe.
The project was coordinated by the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture.

Speaking at the official launch of the project, which started with a capacity building workshop for community representatives who did the inventorying, former Deputy Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture Hon. Shadreck Jonas said this was a landmark in the history of Malawi that culture and cultural heritage can be systematically and professionally documented as this will help to maintain our history for the sake of the future generations.

“In most countries, cultural heritage is well documented to the extent that one can learn, know and understand any cultural belief by reading in books – a thing that has been missing in Malawi,” said Hon. Jonas adding that it was exciting now that the Lhomwe heritage has finally been recognized internationally.”

“Lhomwe was selected because it has a well structured body as Mulhako wa Alhomwe which aims at reviving the Lhomwe culture and traditions,” he said while thanking UNESCO for the financial support towards the project.

The workshop, which was facilitated by the Director of Culture in the Ministry Dr. E. Chindebvu, UNESCO’s Director of Culture in Southern Africa Mrs. Mulekeni Ngulube from Zimbabwe and Cultural expert from UNESCO Mr. Stephen Chifunyise, was the key to the opening of new horizons.

Mr. Lovemore Mazibuko, Acting Director of Culture responsible for Museums, who facilitated the project, described it as a great success and expressed hope that it will enrich Malawi’s cultural heritage with UNESCO.

Among several other things, the inventory looked into oral traditions and expressions that include proverbs, riddles, tales, nursery rhymes legends, myths, epic songs, poems, chants and prayers.

“We also looked into performing arts,” says Owen Stima one among the young Lhomwe people that conducted the inventor. “We also concentrated on social practices, rituals and festive events,” adds Sitima. These includes worship rites, rites of passage, birth, weddings and funeral rites, oaths of allegiance, traditional legal systems, traditional games and sports, kinship rituals, kinship ceremonies, settlement patterns, culinary traditions, seasonal ceremonies, practices specific to men, practices specific to women, hunting, fishing and gathering practices.

Traditional Authority Chikumbu says this inventory and the findings shall help young Lhomwe people to appreciate their culture and be proud of their tradition. She was excited with the inventory on traditional ecological wisdom, indigenous knowledge, knowledge about local fauna and flora, traditional herbing systems, rituals, beliefs, initiation rites, cosmologies, possession rites, social organizations and festivals.

In traditional craftsmanship, the inventory looked at tools, clothing and jewellery, costumes and props for festival of performing arts, storage containers, transport and shelter, decorative art, rituals objects, musical instruments, household utensils and toys for amusement or education.

Mulhako wa Alhomwe is meanwhile working on means on how to protect the intangible cultural heritage by allowing practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills and associated manifestations to be sustainably maintained by the communities, groups and or individuals concerned.

Data gathered is electronically recorded and transcribed into a written form without changing its meaning. The documented information shall be given to the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture with another copy kept in the Museum of Malawi and the other copy to Mulhako Wa Alhomwe for reference.

On Presidential trips

Lets be fair with our criticism

For employees, be it in the public or private sector, there is nothing motivating than being offered a foreign trip. Whether business or academic but when such an opportunity occurs, it is joy in homes, joy at office and its good news worth sharing to all that matter. There could be other officials that are on the plane time and again but traditionally they always get excited with their next flight.

Such trips occur for different reasons depending on the institution that one works for. Other trips are work related that one does not have a choice but to travel. Others are purely a life time opportunity. For those working in the private sector, for example doing business, foreign trips are part of the investment and require capital to carry them. But much as a lot of money has to go into such trips, the traveler still gets excited to be at the airport two hours before departure time.

The other groups of people that travel quite often are those working in the NGO sector. Mostly their natures of jobs require them to travel to different countries for seminars, workshops, work-related activities or educational tours. There are some heads of NGOs that do have a year’s schedule of travel itinerary in there diaries. Much as goals and objectives of their organisations are to save the local masses, none of their constituents are consulted about such trips. We have eventually seen heads of non-governmental organisations becoming overnight millionaires – one would suspect such to be outcomes of continuous foreign trips. We could be wrong!

Then there is the office of the President. By nature of this challenging office and without getting into unnecessary debates, the holder is obliged to travel quite a lot especially that we are now living in a global village. Whether it means wooing investors, discussing peace, soliciting donor money or promotion of tourism and other policies, it requires the President to travel to different for him to positively sale his country. In cases like these, the president has to travel with different personalities that would do different activities during such tours or visits.

There has been Malawians that have had a chance to travel following their inclusion on a presidential entourage. This has been a trend ever since we gained independence. It has been a powerful tool of education, networking and sharing of information. Of late what we have learnt is that the current president has been reducing the number of people accompanying him on such trips. Much as there could be convincing reasons but reducing the presidential entourage is not necessarily good for the nation as this denies other Malawians an opportunity to travel.

Well, thus subject for a different discussion. But the discussion here is how and why should the NGO community criticise the president for travelling and never look at their own travel programmes? The media reports, if they are anything to go by, leave a lot to be desired. The allegations and fears are that the presidential trips might be drawing on the country’s dwindled reserves due to scarcity of forex.

The criticism allegedly came from an organisation designated as the coordinating body for all non-governmental organisations in Malawi with the goal of ensuring effective coordination and collaboration of all the NGOs and other development partners including government. One would wonder why such a criticism should come through newspapers. What happened to coordination and collaboration?

Interestingly, on the list of provided trips that the president has had lately, the critics have not pointed out which among them was a useless trip and a forex drainer. They also did not indicate how much might have been lost. Simply they made an allegation without facts. The body also does not give examples of foreign trips whose officials might have turned down in the interest of the country’s forex.
The problem with such awkward criticisms is that they bring political talk where there is supposed to be no politics. They bring unnecessary debates that leave people pointing at each other in support or against. Malawi does not need this. Not at this point.

Possibly the president has of late been travelling in his capacity as both the President of the Republic of Malawi and as Chairperson of the African Union. These two especially the later, brings with it challenges that as a country we can not avoid. As was observed by the government of the United States soon after the president’s election to the position of Chairperson for the African Union, there is a huge task that the president is involved in and Malawi as a nation will contribute.

The United States said, in a statement, that it looks forward to continuing our partnership with the AU to promote peace, prosperity, and security for all Africans. “We share Chairperson Mutharika’s goals of ending child hunger and malnutrition and welcome his interest in promoting the critical goal of agricultural development and food security on the continent. The U.S. stands ready to partner with the AU on promoting democracy and good governance and to ensure free, fair, and transparent elections on the continent in the coming year”.

Surely one would not expect the President to achieve this from the four walls of his office at the State House.
It surprises me that organisations be it public or private are not good at releasing statement in recognition of achievements but rather jump to make criticisms. Maybe I need a school of thought but there are strides that Malawi has achieved that require mention positively. We may not acknowledge but others do.

On Tuesday, 17 August 2010, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) wrote on their website and I quote, “Since 2007 the country has made real progress in achieving economic growth as part of programmes instituted by the government of President Mutharika in 2005. Healthcare, education and environmental conditions have improved, and Malawi has started to move away from reliance on overseas aid. The government's programme of fertilizer subsidies has dramatically boosted output in recent years, making Malawi a net food exporter.”

Much as we may be free to criticize the President, rightly or wrongly, and make wild accusations, most of which are not substantiated, it would be good to demonstrate what we are doing better to turn around situations that we are in as a country. For example, while CONGOMA’s chairperson sees everything wrong in the President’s foreign trips as is alleged, which could be right, he should have also showed the nation what his organization has done so far to bring the much-needed forex into the country. It is also imperative to give examples of foreign trips that he turned down for the love of the country - it is called a fair game.

On Vice President Joyce Banda

She needs not be Ambassador
By Hastings Maloya

There shall never be a time without debate in Malawi. With the current political dispensation and freedom of expression, we are not running short of subjects for discussion on daily basis. Some issues are worth debating as they help us understand ourselves and our nation better.

Lately in the lame light is the issue of the Right Honourable Joyce Banda with allegations that she has been stripped of her mantle as the African Union (AU) Safe Motherhood Goodwill Ambassador. There are different schools of thoughts coming out with other people clearly expressing disappointment to the development.

My colleague on the opposite page is also not happy with the alleged decision and justifies his stand. For me, if indeed it is true, i do not see any problem and I do not understand why we should be debating this straight forward matter.

According to media reports Health Minister Moses Chirambo had written a memo in which he indicated that after due consultations, it has now occurred to his ministry that the portfolio of Safe motherhood commends itself more as a portfolio under the Ministry of Gender, Children and Community development and not the ministry of Health. A fact.

The memo, it was reported, further mentioned of the placement of the portfolio of Safe Motherhood, to which the Right Honourable was relieved. Not much information has been shared but its surprising how debate has come up and how government has been accused of wrong doing.

To a certain degree one wonders if indeed there has been some other sources of information in this regard that people have which some of us do not know. I will therefore avoid commenting much on speculations but rather whether is was necessary that our Vice President be an ambassador and whether indeed it is indeed extremely wrong to have her out of that position.

To begin with, the right honourable Joyce Hilda Banda is the first Malawian female Vice President and arguably among the most strong and industrious women the country has ever produced.

During the time that she has served as goodwill ambassador of safe motherhood she has managed to raise millions of Kwacha from the private sector to help in safe motherhood so that the country remains on track to achieving one of the UN Millennium Development Goals of reducing maternal mortality.

Widely involved in politics, Joyce Banda has served several roles, both as a legislator and Minister, before she was appointed incumbent President Dr Bingu wa Mutharika’s Vice during the 2009 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections. Having served as Member of Parliament for Zomba Malosa Constituency, Banda has also served in several portfolios including Minister of Gender, and Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Amongst other achievements such as the Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable end of Hunger by new-York based NGO the Hunger Project in 1997 which she shared with the then Mozambican President Joachim Chissano, Joyce Banda is also a widely celebrated female activist who in her lifetime has achieved a variety of great things aimed at further developing the Malawian woman.

The Vice President, our citizen number two, individually, is a force to be reckoned with. Joyce Banda not only has a story, but a legacy to go with it. She remains an inspiration.

To me, to maintain her as goodwill ambassador for ever is a matter of misusing resources. She has shown us what she is able to do and I am sure she can guide the nation how we can achieve more if those opportunities are left open. But maintaining her on this position is almost denying her and Malawians opportunities to see what more she has to offer to her country.

We need to move as a nation, by giving chances to others to learn. Even if she is not the ambassador, I am sure as second in command, in her capacity as Vice President she would still supervise activities of this office and advise where necessary.

Here is a woman so creative and knowledgeable. She has done it whether in business, politics, education and health. For sure she can also do it in other sectors like environment, culture, arts even sports if given a chance. Let other fields also benefit from her capabilities. I would suggest that she is given a chance to initiate things and help as many Malawians as possible learn and participate.

She is already an inspiration to many women and young girls not only in Malawi but far and wide. As we are all proud of her, my judgment is that she has more to offer to this nation than wanting her to cling to one position.

It is not wrong to relieve her of the current position. I look at it as an opportunity for her to concentrate on something different.

Let us also appreciate the fact in her elected capacity; she has a lot to do. It will be unfortunate and unfair to portray to the nation that her actual activity is being an ambassador for safe motherhood.

She is still our vice-president and the position of vice-president, the world over is very demanding... /ends

On Church Boundary


Nkhoma Synod makes a good decision
By Hastings Maloya

Recently there have been debates going on as to whether Malawi is a God-fearing nation or not. While others think, indeed we are a God-fearing nation; other schools of thought are to the contrary. Examples are bound of some deeds that have taken place in the country in recent times that would make one doubt if indeed we are a God-fearing nation. Nevertheless, whether we are or not, it would depend on which side of the debate one chooses to be, but it could be agreeable by all that Malawi is a religious nation.

Despite different beliefs and thoughts, almost all Malawians belong to a certain religious sect. Arguably, most of them are Christians. And Malawi being a religious nation, we have always regarded our religious institutions and religious leaders with respect. We assign to these, the roles of counselor, leader and nation builder.
However, what we have witnesses in the past five years between the Nkhoma and Livingstonia Synods of the CCAP Church have consistently refused to fit into the above roles. News related to the issue about boundaries between the two Synods brought us, observers not any closer to the teachings of Christianity but rather seeds of disunity and division among Christ’s faithful.

The Synods had, to a certain degree chosen, as their calling the defending of privileges of a small constituency other than the unification of these interests with those of the nation as a whole. Through their disagreements on regional boundaries, Malawians have noted use of language that is confrontational, alarmist and divisive turning Christianity into a festering war.

Since necessary information has not been forthcoming as to why the boundary should be an issue between religious groupings, yet of the same CCAP, Malawians have just been left wondering and making assumptions. It has only been leaders at the helm of the two Synods that know the actual reasons for the disagreements and the values associated with them. But lay people like me would wonder why sharing of the word of God should really have boundaries.

If it is due to historic background, then that history should be out of tune. We need to move with time and accept that things do change with time. Actually it could be a sign of laziness to base our arguments on facts that were thought over a decade ago.

This is why I would say finally, common sense has prevailed in the battle of 'areas of influence' between Nkhoma and Livingstonia Synods. A stand taken by the Nkhoma Synod that there need not be any boundaries, though coming in late, is the best and should be applauded.

According to recent media reports, the Nkhoma Synod has given up on the protracted border dispute with the Livingstonia Synod and has adopted a ‘no border’ policy a move that has also been welcomed by the Livingstonia Synod. It is so pleasing to hear that the Synod has made the decision to close the chapter on the boundary matter.

Most Christians believe that human beings experience divine judgment and are rewarded either with eternal life or eternal damnation. Studies indicate that in most countries in the developed world, church attendance among people who continue to identify themselves as Christians has been falling over the last few decades. Some sources view this simply as part of a drift away from traditional membership institutions, while others link it to signs of a decline in belief in the importance of religion in general.

In this regard, the Nkhoma Synod has finally risen to the occasion and is not ready to weaken Christianity and its membership. Surely level-minded people would love to be members of Nkhoma Synod and freely praise the Lord without thinking of a boundary, which in the first place was not even made by spiritual guidance.
And apart from sharing the word of God, the Synod also offer social services.

According to available records, the CCAP Nkhoma Synod was founded in or around 1889 and is one of the major Protestant churches in Malawi. It has over a hundred congregations and over a thousand prayer houses with close to a million members. It also maintains a Theological Training centre, runs a health department and is also responding to the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic. Do we really need a boundary for these services?

In short, over the past years deserving people have been denied services that could have uplifted their livelihoods because of the nonsense that was called Synod boundaries. Though late, the decision by the Nkhoma Synod will, in the next few year benefit Malawi as a whole as resources and services shall be shared to the people regardless of jurisdiction of their stay.

Protestant Christians believe that the Bible is a self-sufficient revelation, the final authority on all Christian doctrine, and revealed all truth necessary for salvation. And most of the entire Bible preaches love and forgiveness. It is unfortunate that in the modern era, Christianity has been confronted with various forms of skepticism and with certain modern political ideologies such as liberalism and recent events have ranged from mere anti-clericalism to violent outbursts.

Surely the decision by the Nkhoma Synod will ensure that peace and co-existence prevail. Our expectations should be that both the Livingstonia and Blantyre Synods also go for a no-boundary policy. Moreover, why should we have a Church of Central Africa that recognises regions and promotes divisions?

We should all acknowledge the fact that the decision by the Nkhoma Synod comes after a long protracted war between the two synods during which the CCAP general Synod tried to mediate using a commission of enquiry to no avail. The decision therefore, cannot be contested as it is not infringing on anyone but giving an opportunity of free choice to people to chose which they think is the best. In this regard it would not be expected that anyone would want to go in any argument or discussions over this decision. The Nkhoma Synod has demonstrated that it is for peace and development.

From this we can learn that there is no argument or disagreement that cannot be resolved. It does not necessarily need to take use of vulgar language or force to see things move in a positive direction. Giving in and accepting change to take natural course is the best way Malawians would lie in co-existence.

Salutations to the Nkhoma Synod for a well thought of decision. It’s a lesson worth learning!

On my wife Emily


The pain of losing a wife Mrs. Emily Maloya 25 March 1975 – 16 January 2010


On Thursday 7th January 2010, as usual I came home at lunch hour and had my beautiful lunch prepared by my wife. We ate together, shared a few jokes as she narrated what has been on the news that day – both radio and TV. Yes she was good at following current affairs. I returned to office a happy man. Who could not, after a good meal?

After work, I passed a PTC shop, met some friends and while we chat, my cell phone rang. It was my wife. As usual, I cut the line so I could call her.

“Hello!” I said with a smile.

“mmmmm,” I noted she was not able to express herself but I got her saying she feel pain on the one side of her body.

I bed farewell to my colleagues and rushed home. There she was indeed in pain.

“But what happened? I mean you were ok just this afternoon,” I was at a loss.

With pain she explained that while she was comfortably chatting with her friends she just felt like something pulling her left side. I noted she was in pains and I called my doctor friend who within a few minutes was around. He administered medication that could lessen the pain before diagnosing what the problem could be. By nine o’clock in the evening, she got better and woke up. She could eat. We suspected malaria but tests proved negative. She was weak yes, but Friday was ok just as Saturday and Sunday. We watched the opening ceremony of the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations together – with her usual love for Cameroon while predicting that Cameroon would win the trophy..

On Monday I noted that she was not okay and I suggested we go to the hospital, a proposal she was not in favour of – “I will be okay Hastings,” she said but I insisted so we left for Mulanje Mission Hospital. She was diagnosed malaria plus 4! The two days of our stay in hospital were not good but on Thursday she was fine and all arrangements were in place for a discharge.

But lo! Evening of Thursday things just changed from nowhere.

I prayed so hard. I asked God to allow my wife live. I did all i could. The medical people did the best they could.

“Talk to me Emily,” I could ask her. She could only smile. I saw my wife failing to eat. Getting weaker by the minute. I noted she had something to say to me but could not manage. Saturday morning 16th January, 2010, Emily breathed last.

“Oh! Lord. Why me?” I cried. “Why me? Why should I be a widower? How about the little girls. Good Lord, why have you accepted that these girls grow without a mother?” yes it as difficult for whoever was around to control my noise.

We travelled to Lilongwe – the most painful trip in my life - on Sunday and burial took place on Monday the 18th January 2010 at Kawale cemetery. I saw those men putting her down into the grave.....

Emily Maloya (nee Kacheula)

She was a wife, a mother, a counsellor, a teacher and the peacemaker. We thank God that she was with us on a strong bond for 14 years without a break. As we celebrate her life and all we gained from her, we ask the Almighty God to rest her in eternal peace.

Hastings, and the daughters Taona-Eva and Tamanda-Eve

VOTE OF THANKS

It is after this dark cloud fell that the families of Maloya and Kacheula realised that we have caring friends and partners. This hard task was made bearable through your support. We thank you all for being with us through out the painful hours both in Mulanje and Lilongwe. Of great mention:

• His Excellency the President Ngwazi Dr Bingu wa Mutharika
• Prof. Etta Banda MP – Minister of Foreign Affairs
• Mrs. Patricia Kaliyati MP – Minister of Gender, Women and Child Development
• The Executive Director, Programme Officers, Management and staff of the Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust (MMCT)
• Mulli Brothers Limited
• The Seventh- Day Adventist Church – Mulanje, Chitakale and Kawale
• The National Chairman and the entire executive committee of Mulhako wa Alhomwe
• Mr. Leston Mulli
• Mr. Ahmed Fattani – Fattani Offset Printers
• Mr. Gospel Kazako, Management and staff of Zodiak Broadcasting Station
• Mulanje Well Wishers Group
• Regional Chairman and committee Mulhako wa Alhomwe – South
• Regional Chairman and committee Mulhako wa Alhomwe - Centre
• Regional Chairman and committee Mulhako wa Alhomwe - East
• Chitakale Tea Estate
• Mr. Joseph Mwanamvekha
• Mr. Llyod Muhara
• Mr. Elvis Thodi
• Mr. H. Mathanga
• Mrs. Adhija Elizabeth Nangoma
• Media Council of Malawi
• Mulanje District Football League
• Mr. Daulos Mauambeta & Management of the Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi
• The Coordination Union for the Rehabilitation of the Environment (CURE)
• My forum friends (Namisa, Nyasanet, MalawiTalk, Dzimatsapota)
• Medical Staff – Mulanje Mission Hospital
• Amfumu Njedza ndi mudzi wonse wa Njedza
• Friends and relatives too numerous to mention

May our God of possibilities bless you all!

The Year 2010

2010 International Year of Biodiversity

by Hastings Maloya

Happy New year. Yes, we are in a new decade. And the year 2010, which looks a very busy one especially sports wise, is International Year of Biodiversity according to a declaration by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. For the next twelve months Malawi joins the international community in celebrating biological diversity and boosting awareness of how important it is for our lives.

Biological diversity, or “biodiversity,” refers to the variety and variability among living organisms be it flora and vegetation, mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, fish and a variety of other living things. This also includes diversity of ecosystems, species and genes, and the ecological processes that support them.

David Nangoma, programme officer responsible for biodiversity conservation, research and monitoring for the Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust (MMCT) says dedication of the year 2010 to celebrate biodiversity is the best way to start the decade.

"The importance of biodiversity as flora and fauna can not be over-emphasized. From a local perspective, it provides the basic livelihoods for the majority of communities as there is provision of virtually everything that nature can provide to mankind", says Nangoma.

Malawi has significant biodiversity as it sits at the crossroads of the East and Central African and Southern African floral and fauna sub regions. it also has a very high human population, the majority living in rural areas and dependant on these biodiversity resources for their survival.

Natural diversity in ecosystems provides essential economic benefits and services to human society - such as food, clothing, shelter, fuel and medicines - as well as ecological, recreational, cultural and aesthetic values, and thus plays an important role in sustainable development.

However, most people, not only in Malawi, but the world over appreciate the beauty of the natural world, but awareness of biodiversity, how seriously it is threatened, and the implications for human well being, is alarmingly low.

This leads to our ecological sites facing threats that include unsustainable resource harvesting, over-harvesting and use, encroachment into the protected areas - sometimes due to population growth, annual damaging forest fires and introduction and/or invasion of alien plant species. Biodiversity is therefore under threat in many areas of the world.

Nangoma says major threats to biodiversity in Malawi and most African countries includes uncontrollable annual forest fires.

"Forest fires have been the main cause of damage to ecosystems that most living things habit. Other threats are encroachment into protected areas by way of establishing settlements and agricultural expansion, which in most cases is due to population growth," observes Nangoma adding that the introduction of some alien invasive plant species has also been of great concern.

Concern about global biodiversity loss has emerged as a prominent and widespread public issue.

According to the United Nations, we need “to see biodiversity at the top of the global agenda, leading to stronger action from all sectors of society including government and industry to safeguard it. To do this we have to show how biodiversity is essential for sustaining our natural living systems—or ecosystem—that provide us with clean air and water, food, building materials, fuel and medicine”.

Throughout the year countless initiatives need to be organized to disseminate information, promote the protection of biodiversity and encourage organizations, institutions, companies and individuals to take direct action to reduce the constant loss of biological diversity worldwide.

Among several others, objectives of the International Year of Biodiversity are to raise awareness of the importance of conserving biodiversity for human well-being and promote understanding of the economic value of biodiversity and to enhance public knowledge of the threats to biodiversity and means to conserve it.

Awareness efforts need to put emphasis on the importance of biodiversity through our values, performance, and communication and engagement. We need to strive to conduct our operations to make sure that everyone understands that humans and the natural environment are interdependent and interact with each other in various ways. In managing our impacts we consider those interrelationships and the functions ecosystems perform in supporting sustainable economic development and seek ways to make positive contributions to biodiversity conservation in areas that we live.

Humans are an integral part of biodiversity and have the power to protect or destroy it. Currently, our activities as humans are destroying the natural world at an unprecedented rate through climate change, habitat destruction, over- harvesting, pollution and many other activities. We’re facing a global species extinction crisis. But there is growing recognition that biological diversity is the lifeblood of sustainable development and human welfare.

Well managed natural resources support peaceful communities, encourage well-balanced economic growth and help reduce poverty. It is therefore our responsibility to join hands as we commemorate the INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF BIODIVERSITY

Chairing the SADC Environmental Forum


Malawi chairs the SADC Environmental Forum

As appeared on Nyasatimes: http://www.nyasatimes.com/national/malawi-chairs-the-sadc-environmental-forum.html

The Southern Africa CBNRM Forum (SACF) elected Malawian, Hastings Maloya of Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust as its new chairman.

According to Godfrey Mitti, Regional Coordinator of WWF Regional CBNRM Program southern Africa, Maloya, a re-known journalist and environmental practitioner was unanimously voted chairperson at the regional meeting that took place at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe last week. And is to hold the position for two years.

He succeeded Ms Rosina Masilo-Ragkoasi of Botswana.

Countries in the forum include Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana, South Africa and Namibia. In the coming year, Tanzania and Angola will be roped.

“This is a great honour to Malawi. As a country we are making strides in natural resource management environmental conservation, and this is a vote of recognition,” said Maloya.

He said during his chairmanship, he will stride to make sure that local leaders are more involved in community-based natural resource management.

“Indigenous knowledge would be the best way if we are to manage our resources. We need to focus on local leaders and get them involved,” he said.

The 2009 TVM Awards

The 2009 TVM Awards Analysis
by Hastings Maloya

They changed their slogan from "The Station for the Nation" to "Creating a World of Possibilities" and within a year Malawi Television (TVM) has slowly proven itself as one of the best TV stations in the SADC Region. They went on satelite, giving an opportunity to Malawians in other countries like Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, Zambia and Mozambique to watch their local TV channel. They brought in new personalities and new programming.

From their live "Good Morning Malawi" programme, to musical ones, religious, sports, cultural and then news bulletins, Malawi Television is now a family channel. They may have a lot more to improve but given the local situation, with limited resources and the political environment, TVM is worth watching. And they bring in new things and surprises.

Mid October 2009, an advert appeared on Malawi Television. It talked about the 2009 TVM Awards. The advert talked of plans to honour and award Malawians "Who have selflessly contributed to serving others without them realising". Most Malawians could not understand what these awards will really be about. It took time for TVM to exactly say what they had in stor for Malawi.

Mid December, TVM announced the date of the awards and the venue. Entry fees at MK15, 000 in advance and MK20, 000 on the door seemed on the higher side. But they must have done good marketing. Several companies came forward to support the event and the hall at the College of Medicine Sports Complex could not take all the prospective patrons. State President, Dr Bingu wa Mutharika was guest of honour.

The event, which was broadcast live on television was spiced by the perfomance of South African gospel diva, Rabecca Malope, Mganda dancers from Nkhatabay, Police Band and Joseph Tembo with his Groove Magic band.

Toast of the night was the awarding of the achievers in waht has to be labbled "the 2009 TVM 2009 Our People Our Pride Awards. The choice od awardees, which among others included a Mr Mkandawire who constructed a suspended Bridge in Rumphi, the guy who caught the Nachipanti vampire in Ndirande, the Pastor who started the orphan centre where Madonna adopted David. Stories associated with each awardeee were inspiring and so moving.

Wilson Moleni,a banker in Mzuzu says the show was beyond his expectations. He said he never expected something of that magnitude to take place in Malawi adding, it was inspiring especially on the ordinary Malawians that were awarded.

"It was a marvel to watch live on television. being the first of its kind, surely TVM has set a record and it will have a tough time to beat its own record it has set, said Moleni adding: "I liked the orderly flow of the events, including the effects that went with them."

And in his remarks, Acting Director General of Television Malawi Bright Malopa, said this was only a biggining of this to come, to which he received a round of applause maybe with the audience accepting that TVM is indeed creating a world of posibilities.

President Mutharika, whose BENITH Trust was the main sponsor said he was excited that ordinary Malawians could be recognised in this manner. He also pledged to support a 15-year old orphan who was among the award receipients with school and other basic needs.

Zimbabwean music icon, Oliver Mtukudzi was also supposed to perform but failed to come at the last minute due to sickness. but that did not affect the tone of the event.

The awards ceremony dwarfs other sort of events including the famous Entertainers of the year programme on Malawi Broadcasting Corporation.

On Cultural Dances


Dances are the core of culture
by Hastings Maloya

A day to remember - yes, a day that will go into the history books as a turning point when local dances that were almost dead resurfaced! This was through the Mount Mulanje traditional dance competition that took place on Friday the 27th March, at the Mulanje Community Centre Ground. Being the first time such an event had ever taken place, it was sufficiently interesting and likely to be remembered.

It was a rare occasion that brought together people from all walks of life, regardless of political or religious affiliations and appreciated culture. A day filled with sounds of traditionally-made drums and lovely hand clapping with participating groups in costumes and attire befitting the dances in their originality.

The competition, which was strictly for adults, those aged from 25 and above, was organised by the Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust through its environmental education and awareness programme as a way of raising awareness on natural resource and environmental management. A total of 20 dancing groups from all over Mulanje district participated in the competition with dances ranging from Soopa, Gololombe, Jiri, Likwata, Visekhere, Chomanga, Dodo, Mganda, Manganje, Masalimo to Namunasini.

Through several awareness and educational activities, MMCT would like to encourage greater participation by the local communities in managing the Mulanje Mountain forest reserve and facilitate sustainable means of increasing benefits that people derive from it. And this competition just perfectly fitted in.

“Apart from raising awareness of the importance of Mulanje Mountain Forest Reserve, this competition has assisted in acknowledging and improving the rich diversity of culture in Mulanje and also the development of tourism in the district,” said the District Commissioner for Mulanje Rev. Mosses Chimphepo. Rev. Chimphepo said he was excited that such an event brought people together to share joy and laughter, which he said was good for development.

No wonder the event attracted sponsorship from Malawi Savings Bank (MSB) that provided prizes to the winning groups. The Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust provided MK5, 000 to each of the 20 participating groups while the bank provided actual prizes to winning groups through the opening of bank accounts. The bank gave prizes to a total of MK100, 000 to five winning groups.

After scrutinising the performances a group of six judges came with a verdict that saw Manyamba Troupe with their Soopa dance scooping the first position and walked away with a K30, 000 bank account seconded by Gawani Traditional Dance with their Manganje dance and got K25, 000. On position three was Nancocho Club with Namunasini dance and were proud recipients of K20, 000 while Maliyera group with Dodo dance was on position four and got K15, 000; and Msuka dancers got K10, 000 for being on position five.

And in his remarks, MSB Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Joseph Mwanamvekha, said the Bank is proud to be associated with the promotion of culture and traditional values of the people of Malawi. He thanked the Trust for organising the event and said the Bank is excited to support the groups to sustain themselves economically hence the offer to open accounts for them.

“Our bank, which has branches in all the districts of Malawi is not discriminatory. We wanted everyone to have the power of investment and groups like these are the owners of the bank. It is my hope that after opening the bank accounts, your groups will be sustained”, said Mr. Mwanamvekha.

Mr. Mwanamvekha, who is also the National Chairperson for Mulhako wa Alhomwe, a Lhomwe cultural heritage group, emphasised on the importance of traditional dances in preservation of culture. At this point he said this competition can be looked at a starting point. He observed that over the years, Malawian were starting to believe that entertainment meant bringing into the country a foreign band when we have rich and diversity of local entertainment.

People that attended the ceremony included school children, government officials, international guests, tourists, representatives of the NGO community, the civil society and the general public.

The participating groups were asked to compose songs that raise awareness on natural resource and environmental management – with focus on the Mulanje Mountain Forest Reserve. A group of six judges was tasked to come up with winners putting in consideration consistence, composition of songs, originality of the dance, the message and the general entertainment. All songs were expected to talk of the importance of conservation.

And in his remarks, the guest of honour, Paramount Chief Mkhumba thanked both MMCT and MSB for recognising the local talent and facilitating the bringing out of dances that were about to be forgotten.

Jiri is my favourite dance. It was almost gone but today we have revived it,” said the excited Chief Mkhumba while asking the organisers to consider making this an annual event. “We are reminded of our days. This is what our children need to be taught and encouraged to participate,” said the chief. He called on teachers and education officials to encourage children to organise and dance traditional dances than adopting foreign dances like kwasakwasa.

And the journey has just started….. the Trust wants this to be an annual event and the Bank wants it too!

On Beer Promotion

Big companies and the abuse on girls
By Hastings Maloya

The time is 11.30pm and I am having my favourite Carlsberg Stout at a place called Green Bird – of course there are no green-coloured birds there – in Liwonde (Mangochi Turn Off). This was after a long day in the forests of Machinga and lengthy discussions with chiefs and local leaders. Twenty-three minutes later, when I was on my second cold one, a green minibus pulls by. Very intoxicated young people jumps out, makes a lot of unnecessary noise – maybe to attract attention of everyone present. The misguided youths, as I saw them, do not even have the sense to seek permission from the owners of the venue before doing whatever stupid thing they have brought.

Yes, they are on a promotion. They want your views whether you love the latest Kadansana which has been branded by a new name Elephant, or the sugary-heavy-and-not-interesting Gold or the beautiful-name-for-nothing Classic. They do not mind whether you are interested to partake or not but they need your attention. Here they are, taking out their belongings from the minibus, prizes, whatever-it-is and they are all over for a talk yes.

I thought I was comfortable to enjoy my Stout after having a beautiful supper of Nsima with local chicken at one of the local restaurants. Oh no! There comes a girl with all the minutiae looking for information. I am a journalist and a development worker – I said to myself and remembered that in most cases I also seek info… why should I not give it now when someone needs it? The interview has not yet finished – only realising that the girl was so drunk! Time now is 12.43 (am!)

Wow, I learnt in the course of the discussion that the girl is less than 20 years old – actually 19. So sozzled that in the prattle of the discussion she does not know what she is talking about.

“But why are you so drunk?” I ask
“Don’t you know that I am promoting a beer? Mutu wanu ukugwira?” she asks.
“How many bottles have you taken?” I asked. Didn’t want to show her that I am annoyed
“Ndauyamba mmamawa,” she says as reaches her bottle for a sip, “where do you leave? “She asks.
“I stay in Mulanje I am only here on duty”, I politely respond.
“Ah! Mulanje?” she shouts
“Yes, Mulanje” I said with a smile.
“Ah, we were there. Mulanje boarder, Chikumbe Motel, Mulanje Motel, View Motel, Chididi, Chris Corner, Blue Gum! Hahahahah! We did not sleep when we were in MJ… iii and ndinauchapa! Pa Small Ville was the place I liked most” – I was so interested the way the girl could know and describe Mulanje better than myself.

She told me of the bottle stores that she has been to. Its been Mulanje, Phalombe, Thyolo, Blantyre, Zomba, what what what……. I was so amazed. But then she really had info to her fingertips about the 40th celebration of Carlsberg birthday.

Ok, the promotion ran, competitions held and I only won an opener (a bottle opener).

See now, the girl rushes to get into a minibus – now on their way to Mangochi! I said oh! My God.

I was left there dumbfounded. What is Carlsberg up to? There I realised that on the trip, there were also journalists – taken to report on the promotion – yes promoting the promotion and reporting on the beers and beer drinking. I wondered if my fellow journalists noted the abuse on the girls.

But then I changed the feelings:

My thoughts:
1. I thought of the girls’ parents. How could they allow this small girl to go on a beer promotion trip. What do they expect out of her at the end of the day? Is it due to poverty? Kaya.
2. I thought of women and youth organisations – are they aware of these abuses?
3. I thought of us journalists. Shall we just jump on these promotions or we can also look at the other side of the same and write features for the sake of our nation?
4. Then I thought of Carlsberg and noted that it is one of the richest companies in Malawi. As it celebrates 40 years of existence why not offer scholarships to girls that seem have nothing to do after completing Form Four? Why not sponsoring those girls on a “BACK to SCHOOL promotion”?
5. Zoona Carlsberg celebrating 40 years by giving out ma T-shirt? Zipewa ndi ma opener? Braii stand? Asa! Bwanji osapanga re-launch Carlsberg Cup?
6. Or maybe we journalists, maybe we can advocate for a different promotion that will be nation-friendly. Yes we can put up a proposal – hoping Carlsberg has a listening ear.
7. Why can’t they use the 40 years of celebration to help in tree planting? We are in the tree planting season. They could again make Malawi a little greener with Green.

On Clerk of Parliament

Let Matilda Katopola stay
By Hastings Maloya

For the third year running we have not had our national budget on time, a situation that has put all of us in a predicament since we all rely on the budget for guidance in whatever we are engaged in. What has been difficult to understand is why a country thus 44 years old but still very poor should choose to prioritise politics and not development. Why do we still have members of parliament that do not see the importance of the budget to the nation? If indeed it is politics, then the politics in Malawi is not exciting at all.
All along we were told that the opposition is refusing the budget until their demands for the implementation of Section 65 are met. We have heard about Section 65 so long now that it’s no longer an exhilarating issue for discussion. And when parliament met this time round, we were still expecting that the section will be mentioned so we were only waiting for the way forward.
Then came an issue of a memorandum of understanding. The opposition parties threatened to reject the 2008/09 national budget if President Bingu wa Mutharika's government does not sign a so-called memorandum of understanding (MOU) put forward by the country's clergy as a way forward to narrow the political gap existing in parliament between the two sides.
But things came to a shocking change when the opposition found another reason to make government dance for the budget to pass.

The opposition members of parliament demanded that the Clerk of Parliament Matilda Katopola be sacked before the budget was discussed and passed. The opposition political leaders pilled pressure on government to adopt a resolution to remove the clerk of parliament following reports that Katopola, Malawi’s first female Clerk of Parliament, dubiously awarded a contract to her company Monics Trends to supply printing services to parliament.

Some opposition members of parliament were quote in the press saying that they would be surprised if government allows the clerk to continue working. Their argument was that this would give an interpretation that the authorities (i.e. government) are promoting corruption and bribery. What a lousy argument.

Meanwhile, government has declared that it would not implement the parliament's decision and I say well done government. And please do not remove her. Let her stay at parliament.

The demands by the opposing parliamentarians are irresponsible and out of context putting in mind that the issue of Katopola was discussed, an investigation completed and results made public. The country’s President Dr Bingu wa Mutharika acknowledged and forgave her. This does not mean that she was not wrong and naturally she must have regretted her wrong doing and one wonders why forgiving someone has now become a sin.
The resistance by government on this immature demand is commendable because it is obvious that the said Clerk of Parliament's financial impropriety was just a scapegoat by the opposition. The real reason for her woes, could be - as we have now learned - her refusal to allow MPs have unsorted loans and her demands that MPs travel economy class and not business class on international assignments. She is on the wrong side because of her prudent financial management at parliament. We even once heard that some ‘honourable’ members were threatening to beat her up. How silly!
In any case, if indeed the issue is that Katopola is in the wrong, why is her wrong doing attached to the national budget? What is the relationship? Why should people suffer in hospitals for lack of medicines or civil servants struggling to receive their salaries simply because some misguided members of parliament are demanding the firing of a single individual? And which government department would be willing to welcome such an individual in a situation that she is being removed?
We have also learnt from reliable and knowledgeable sources that the matter of hiring, firing or disciplining the clerk of parliament belongs to the executive arm of the government and not the legislature. One therefore wonders why or parliamentarians get excited with issues. As it has already been observed elsewhere, if indeed the disgruntled MPs were not happy with the President’s decision to forgive and reinstate Katopola, the proper thing for the parliamentarians to do was to go to court and to seek a judicial review and challenge the decision. But that they wasted our time voting and tying Katopola’s removal to the national budget, is the last thing a compassionate Malawian would appreciate.
And for argument sake, who among our opposition MPs is clean of theft, bribery and corruption? I can challenge the Mps that if we were to take to task each and every one of them, we will discover a lot of anomalies in the way they have handled financial matters but they have the audacity to corner one Matilda Katopola.
Just an example, I wish our members of parliament could account for the treadle pumps they received to where they went, who is using them and how much they have contributed to crop harvest in their respective constituencies. It will be interesting to realise that some of them might have sold some of them and cannot even tell what the proceedings were used for. How many of our MPs can account for the allocated constituency funds?
I wish our parliamentarians could be aware of how many youths and women in their constituencies that do not have any source of employment and what they are doing about it. I wish they could show us initiatives that they are putting in place to help their people both economically and socially.
We are supposed to be proud that we are probably the only country in the region with a female clerk of parliament. Katopola is young and she has already proven that she is brave and intelligent. It has proven that Dr Mutharika’s choice was marvellous. She needs our support and guidance. We must accept that as an individual she can make mistakes and all we need to do is to correct her and correct her only when our sense of correction is in good faith and not out of sheer jealousy and ill will as we have noted in this recent occurrence.
Kotopola, just as the Attorney General Jane Ansah and Deputy Speaker of Parliament Esther Cheka Chilenje, just to mention a few are models among our young girls. She has inspired many and it would be a bad decision to remove her from parliament. I urge the government not to bow down to these crazy demands for the sake of our country.
MPs are only voted into power. They do not go through any meaningful interviews and most of them will not win the next election so should they put our deserved women in situations thus not conducive? Thus far from nation building.
Katopola must not be removed from parliament. She has brought discipline and she needs more time to bring even more changes. More-over the people, who are making the wild demands, are only doing it because Katopola is a woman. A real man is not praised for torturing women but giving them love and guidance. Our opposition parliamentarians, mostly men, have miserably failed on this one. They have only managed to put our country to shame
Here are members of parliament who have miserably failed to bring any meaningful development in their areas and failed to support the current government to help their people and are here loud-mouthed for the removal of a clerk of parliament and indeed shamelessly tying that demand to the national budget. And these people will only be in parliament for the next eight months and they want to leave parliament in shambles. We can’t accept that.
Let Matilda Katopola stay.

*Hastings Maloya works for the Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust but is writing in his personal capacity

Chiefs’ educational visit to Thyolo Mountain


Chiefs’ educational visit to Thyolo Mountain

By Hastings Maloya

Forests and mountains in Malawi are now in a desperate situation. Forest destruction across the country continues at a wildfire pace, seemingly uncontrolled and ignored. Sadly, there is little concerted political or governmental response to this loss. Short-term gains of fuel-wood and charcoal availability are soon overshadowed by the complete deprivation of an extensive range of resources and services that our mountains traditionally offered. Bare hills stand stark testament to a tragic irresponsibility that we are all accountable for if we do not choose now to actively work together to counter and then reverse this process of destruction.

The Mulanje Mountain Forest Reserve is currently facing serious problems ranging from uncontrolled and illegal harvesting of forest resources, encroachment and annual bush fires. Deforestation is on an increase, a situation that would lead to serious problems if not checked. It is behind this observation that the Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust (MMCT) through its Environmental Education, Awareness and Communications Programme organized and facilitated a two-day educational visit for chiefs from Mulanje and Phalombe to Thyolo Mountain. This trip was meant for the chiefs to appreciate the current sorry situation that Thyolo Mountain is in and for them to have a developmental interaction with their colleagues (chiefs) from Thyolo district.

Many people, just as the chiefs and local leaders, view the Mulanje Mountain Forest Reserve as solely a source of natural resources to benefit from; they rarely question the aftermath effects of overuse or abuse of such resources. It is therefore imperative that chiefs, as leaders and to a certain degree owners of the people and land, develop a genuine appreciation for the mountain and the reserve so that they can understand what implications their actions may have on it.

Malawi today has many other mountain forests that are in the process of disappearing entirely and silently. One example of such reserves that lost its resource glory is Thyolo Mountain, which not long ago was a beautiful forest reserve and today it is completely bare with no hope remaining in it. Mt Mulanje is in no way being spared as a victim in this national crisis. Production of charcoal and timber are the main threats. The trip by chiefs to Thyolo was therefore meant to open the chiefs’ eyes and call for action.

Summary
This was a two-day visit by chiefs from Mulanje and Phalombe to Thyolo. The trip was organised with close working relationship with the District Forest Officer and in co-operation with the District Forestry Officer for Thyolo. History, both written and oral, tells us that Thyolo Mountain once had a thick forest reserve and was among Malawi’s pride natural indigenous forest reserves. Over the years people started encroaching into the reserve by cutting down trees for various uses and also opening gardens for cultivation. This went on at uncontrolled pace to a point that the entire forest reserve was wiped out. Today, the mountain a bare land with farms established and buildings constructed in areas that are still a forest reserve.

On the agricultural front, people produce bananas from the forest reserve apart from other farm produces. This has mainly affected the water table and the dryness of most rivers that has/had their sources from Thyolo Mountain. One of the main rivers that supply water to the entire Thyolo urban community is Suwadzi, which is now drying up. There is a lot of sand that is now being produced by Suwadzi River, as a result of serious soil erosion that has taken place over the years.

It was imperative therefore to take the Mulanje Chiefs to Thyolo to see for themselves the situation that the mountain is in and have a feel of what would happen to the Mulanje Mountain Forest Reserve if the current destruction process is not checked. Again, Thyolo and Mulanje are close districts and share similar geographical features with similar challenges. Traditionally, the chiefs from the three districts (Mulanje, Thyolo and Phalombe) share similar cultural beliefs so it was good to bring them together.

A representative of the chiefs from Thyolo, who were 13 in number, Group Village Headman Maonga welcomed the colleagues from Mulanje and Phalombe and asked them to feel at home. He also thanked MMCT for facilitating the visit, which he said came at the most opportune time. He said this was a very important meeting not only for natural resource management but also to cement relationship between the districts. The chief reminded his colleagues that education is not only about being in class but that traveling from one place to another is a great eye opener.

During the visit, it was indeed noted that Thyolo Mountain once had a beautiful and thick forest reserve. The first leg of the tour took us into Mianga Tea Estates towards the mountain where the other side we saw the deforested part of the mountain and on the other side, there is the only remaining forest that is managed by the tea estate.

Looking at the only managed forest, the thicket of the trees, and the natural beauty it is giving against the other devastated area, it is a worrisome site on the damage thus caused by the careless use of natural resources. But it was also noted during the informal discussions that the tea estates can also be blamed on encroachment as it was noted that there was too much land with tea, maybe giving little land for cultivation for local people who might have resorted in encroaching into the reserve.

Chiefs from Thyolo explained that until around 1968 the Thyolo Forest Reserve was so thick that not a single person could dare enter it. They noted that it just started like a joke when people started cutting down trees for timber. At uncontrolled rate, it happened that with time, all the trees went and people started opening gardens and now constructing houses and different other buildings.

The biggest worry now is that Thyolo Mountain is no longer able to produce and give water to the people of Thyolo as it used to do. Meanwhile Thyolo is suffering with water shortages with the district headquarters mainly affected.

Ironically, the bare Thyolo Mountains is saving the nation with latest technologies. Towers for both cellular phones and FM radio stations stand tall on the mountain.

There are indeed challenges in managing forest reserves, in particular, matters concerning non-availability of management plans, encroachment, charcoal production, illegal harvesting of firewood, rampant corruption, shortage of financial and human resources, annual bush fires, poor maintenance of infrastructure, and now a dire need to involve local stakeholders. The idea of searching for a more effective way of doing things implies that we are aware of the deficiencies attending the present arrangement and that we wish to make improvements. We are all aware that we live in difficult times where environmental degradation in general is accelerating at unprecedented rates.

On President Mutharika as Minister of Agriculture

Bingu needs not step down

By Hastings Maloya

Democracy in Malawi is steadily coming of age as is manifested by the freedoms that include the freedom to speak ones mind without reprisals. Gone are the days when young democrats were almost rulers as they could create an environment of intimidation and torture. Yes Malawians were not able to speak their minds lest one was asking for a rain of blows in case what you said was not in line with the thinking of the ruling clique.

Today people of different political thoughts and beliefs are able to sit together, enjoy, laugh and agree to disagree on various matters. People are free to be quote in the media regardless of the issue they would like to bring forth. Things do change over time indeed.

This freedom of expression is very good though to a certain degree it leads us to say things thus irrelevant to our society and negative to the development of our country.

This brings me to the subject of debate today. Some politicians and analysts say President Bingu wa Mutharika needs to step down or resign as minister of agriculture because according to their thinking, Dr Mutharika has failed to run the ministry. They single out the main reason for the ‘failure’ as being busy with the office of head of state.

The said politicians and analysts say the fertilizer subsidy programme has not gone well. In case that is true, instead of coming out with possible reasons that may have led to the problem, they only suggest the removal of Dr Mutharika as minister responsible. Seems they could have expected the minister to be at every fertilizer selling point in Malawi or he was supposed to be seen distributing coupons himself to qualify as performing his duties.

I find this very unfortunate and unhelpful.

These opposition politicians let alone the analysts, to me seem to be attention seekers, just excited to have their names and pictures seen in newspapers or their voices heard on radios. They are not for national building. They were around when parliament took ages to approve the budget for this financial year. They know it took several months of discussing the budget, indications of it being refused and all the drama that was associated with it. So here are our commentators who cannot count how many months it took after the approval of the budget to have a good system in place for the production and distribution of coupons, the purchase of fertilizer and to transport it to all corners of Malawi.

Its sad that some people cannot appreciate the fact that fertilizer is not manufactured in Malawi, let alone we do not have our own ports for easy transportation. Here are people who cannot think of the logistics associated with this exercise and the costs. The ministry of agriculture managed it, problems or no problems, fertilizer saw its way to almost all parts of Malawi. And honestly we call for the resignation of the minister?

The argument that the ministry of agriculture is one of the most involving ministries and that it is difficult for the president to head it does not hold water. We have had a situation where the late Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda held this ministry up until the time that he was very old but it was a success. It is also not true that it requires moving around frequently for the success of this ministry.

Government, on behalf of the nation employs people whom we call civil servants and they are expected to work on behalf of the president, the government and the entire nation to deliver as is required. In short, government, through the ministry of agriculture, just as is the case with all other ministries, has its ears, eyes, nose and hands on the ground throughout the country. It is therefore unfair to put blame on the minister on activities that could or are supposed to be carried out by the people employed to do that.

The ministry of agriculture is well structured. It has Dr Mutharika as the minister and Bitony Kunsaira as deputy. It has eight agriculture development divisions (ADDs) across the three regions of the country and it employs young and educated men and women responsible for field activities. It is therefore ridiculous to expect the whole minister frequently visiting all the ADDs as is suggested by some opposition leaders and our self-styled analysts. Any minister, not because he or she is the president, cannot be on the run from one office to another because the minister mostly deals with issues of policy.

In all fairness, the problem here could not necessarily be on the administration by the minister but the little support that government got from the opposition ion parliament. Our opposition worked tirelessly, with little success to see the agriculture sector fail.

It was the same ministry that managed to construct silos in Mangochi, which we are told are full with the staple food. Was it not the same ministry that facilitated better prices for tobacco growers at the auction floors? How about the improved market prices for cotton? I think we need to give credit where it is due.

Just a month ago, for the first time in the history of Malawi, we have seen one of the most influential, respected and national newspaper in the United States – the New York Times writing very positively about the achievement of Malawi on food security. The paper commended Malawi’s ministry of agriculture for its sound policies that have led to Malawi having enough food. I wonder which policies such an advanced country saw in our ministry that cannot be seen by a fellow Malawian. Maybe we talk of envy as our main problem.

It could make some sense if our analysts maybe said that some people employed to manage different arms of the ministry, who, just as is the case with any manager were supposed to technically and professionally know how to handle situations as they come, are not doing a good job. In case we have managers that are just sitting phwiii, we need not blame the minister lest he proposes the firing of the front line staff.

How I wish the said politicians and analysts called for the resignation of the national football coach! Definitely they could have had better reasons.

It is high time Malawians woke up and started being patriotic to their nation. In case there is any problem that affected the subsidy programme, why not take it as our problem and we play a role in sorting it than being faultfinders. Let us ask ourselves what role we have played to assist in the fair distribution of coupons and how many of the poor households that have we assisted in cash or kind to enable them buy the fertilizer?

It is very unfortunate that our political analysts are only bent to look at the negative side of issues without complementing the positives. Why should it take the New York Times in the US to note the successes of Malawi on food security when our learned analysts cannot see? Do they deserve being called analysts?

In summary, it is coming out very clearly that calls for the resignation of Dr Bingu wa Mutharika as minister of agriculture are only out of malice and lack of appreciation. None among the so-called analysts have come out with a possible name of a candidate they think would do better than Dr Mutharika. But this could be one of the fruits of democracy and freedom of expression. Democracy in Malawi is indeed taking shape.

All in all, Dr Mutharika has performed. He needs not step down, as there is no reason.

Misa delegates into Malawi’s oldest forest reserve



Misa delegates into Malawi’s oldest forest reserve

by Hastings Maloya

They arrived from all member countries of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA). Malawians, as usual, showed their warmth in welcoming and making the visitors feel at home. Sunbird Mount Soche hotel was not a disappointment. For the first time Malawi hosted the regional indaba for scribes and after three days of serious deliberations, an out-of-hotel tour was necessary. The perfect and able conference organising team planned a visit to Mount Mulanje, Malawi’s island in the sky.

Those that had visited different mountains in their home countries thought they had seen the best. As such they might have not been very excited with the programme that indicated a tour to Mulanje Mountain. But when a briefing was made prior to the tour, only doubting delegates could have wanted to prove a point. Can Malawi indeed have such a wonderful resource? A surprise was in the wait!

The tour started soon after lunch. Had it been that the sites were boring, it could have been a perfect recipe for a slumber. But who could close one’s eyes past the Chipembere Highway with exchange of jokes from different countries? There we were, outside Limbe into the Thyolo road, past Bvumbwe and Thunga ~ yes the beauty of the tea fields kept the delegates silent for a while.

“Mr. Driver, please stop, I want to have a feel in my hands of a tea leaf! Oh! this is wonderful,” cried a South African before the plea was chorused by all while those with cameras were doing the actual jobs that the gadgets were made for. A slight wait took the delegates to the historical Mwala wa Nthunzi in Thyolo – a stone on the roadside. The history and stories associated with this stone were not only amazing but lured the visitors to make a special trip to Malawi. However, they were yet to see other things.

The journey had to go on. Past the Thyolo highlands the sight of Mount Mulanje was noted. Those that thought that they had visited mountains before realised that they have only been to hills. Yes the situate of the attractive Mount Mulanje took the delegates all the way past Chitakale trading centre into the Likhubula Valley past the Mulanje District Forest office to the Likhubula CCAP.

Every member wished this trip started in the morning. They wished they could have climbed up Chambe plateau, or at least a visit to the historical Dziwe la Nkhalamba, but time was not available.

Patricia Kawawa of the Likhubula CCAP House was an excellent guide around the place and to the Likhubula pools. She led the delegates into the Likhubula river, where a feel of the fresh waters was a toast of the day for the delegates, with everyone wishing to take a bath – yes if the costumes were available swimming tactics could have been experienced.

“This is just little about Mount Mulanje, there is more inside,” says Patricia to the pain of her visitors as now wished the time of their stay in Malawi was extended.

Time was spent in playing in the cold waters of Likhubula. How about exciting picnic pictures on the rocks of the rivers? Notebooks were looked for, pens in the hand and notes taken… yes the trademark of scribes – out to tell stories. To most of them this was a day they will live to remember.
But all good things have to come to an end. Time to get back to the hotel, but we need a drink…don’t we? Kara O’Mula, one most lovely lodge on the other side of the mountain was host for a mean cocktail. Just crowned up the already lovely day! With all the fascinating sceneries, the mountain left a mark in the minds of many.

Situated about 80 km from the commercial city of Blantyre, the attractive Mulanje with its Sapitwa Peak, standing over 3000m above sea level, is not only the highest mountain but also the most impressive and unique massif in the southern and central African region. It is is much more than a barren rock with its forest reserve thus made up of a range of ecological habitats from rain forest to alpine, woodland to grassland. There is a great diversity of plant and animal life and many of species are endemic. The most famous endemic is the magnificent and endangered Mulanje cedar, Malawi’s National Tree, which dominates the high altitude forests. With its evergreen forests, woodlands and montane grasslands, the mountain has attracted increasing attention to many tourists.

The journalists attested to it. And more to it, back to the hotel, Honourable Aleke Kadonaphani Banda had something in store for them


………ends