Thursday, July 24, 2008
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Unsure as to how much English the average Hungarian speaks, I prepare for my 2008 Global Voices Citizen Media Summit trip to
In addition, I find a Lonely Planet pocket guide for the Hungarian language, and start learning a few phrases. I post a message to the Global Voices 2008
By Sunday, the conference has clocked three days, and a group of us take the tramway (metro train) to see the
A few hours later while resting near a bridge by the river, Victor asks me if my cellphone’s ringtone is on. I pull the phone out of my pocket, and the inbuilt mp3 player is blaring Lawrence Mbenjere’s “Chikwesa.”
“Ah!! I hope it hasn’t been playing in my pocket all this time!! Gees!” Then it dawns on me. “I swear they were playing Patapata by Dorothy Masuka when we were on the tramway!” I was so eager to commend the Hungarians for their worldly taste in music, but now I’m not so sure anymore. I can’t believe the trick my cell phone’s mp3 player has played on me.
We have stopped on the bank of the
We are stunned with the news. The other group returns, and the ever-cheerful Neha, an Indian blogger based in
“I can handle it.”
“It requires nerves.”
“I have the nerves. Tell me.”
“The fish we have been eating in the hotel? Comes from this river.”
Neha throws her arms in the air and shouts joyfully: “Thank God! I’m a vegetarian!” She is joined by Razan, a Syrian blogger who lives in
We proceed to walk by the riverside, watching passenger boats sailing under the bridge. We continue taking pictures as we approach an impressive neo-Gothic structure with a tall, cathedral-like dome standing above everything else on the Pest side of the
By 9pm, the sun is setting and a twilight sets in. We continue taking more pictures, and begin looking for a tramway station to return to the Novotel Hotel. Everyone is hungry, and Moussa, from
On the plane back home, I continue reading Michael Korda’s Journey to a Revolution: A Personal Memoir and History of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, which I started before the trip. I am struck by the way history has dealt with the Hungarian people. Korda’s description of the communist era in
Sunday, July 06, 2008
One morning at a school near
After further deliberations amongst the staff, a decision was reached. Mwandilakwira, a Standard 8 pupil, would be expelled from the school and reported to the then District Education Office (DEO). Mwandilakwira protested his innocence, but the school administration responded by saying since he was the one who sat directly underneath the president’s portrait, he was probably the pupil who did this. Mwandilakwira was ordered never to come back to the school, and his name was reported to the DEO’s office. Mwandilakwira was also told that he was effectively banned from attending school in the entire
That was thirty six years ago.
For me, two things stand out as the most important for a future
It wasn’t until 2004 that I first started thinking about uMunthu as a serious theme in envisioning the future of
Listening to the newly ordained Bishop Msusa that afternoon harked my mind back to former Anglican Archbishop of the Diocese of Cape Town in
Some people point out that
Before 2004, I was not even aware that uMunthu had been the subject of serious academic and intellectual inquiry by leading Malawian and African philosophers, theologians, political scientists, and many others. Several Malawians have written entire books on the subject. They include
In my interviews with several Malawian primary school teachers since 2004, I have learned that uMunthu is a subject fit to be taught in our schools, from Standard 1 all the way to the university. This is especially important for teacher training colleges and other tertiary institutions. The teachers argued that many of
The presence of rigorously researched and analyzed treatises on the topic of uMunthu, amongst Malawians and other scholars elsewhere is an exhortation for us to make it central in our education system. In my work with Malawian primary teachers over the years, we have explored ways of teaching the values of uMunthu-based peace and social justice, even in learning areas as unlikely as Mathematics.
The consideration to make uMunthu and peace education central features of Malawian education at all levels involves rethinking the ways we train our primary school teachers also. Having been a primary school teacher myself, I have come to appreciate the need to enhance our teacher education process, to align it with the needs of present day
Young Malawians are bustling with intellectual energies ready to meet any academic challenges thrown their way. That is what Mwandilakwira proved to those who expelled him and banished him from attaining further education in Malawi.
After staying at home for two years without going to school, Mwandilakwira changed his name and enrolled at another school several kilometers away. There he excelled, and was selected to one of the best secondary schools in
Equipping teachers with the best training we can afford will be part of the process to ensure the type of future we envision for our country. It will enable teachers to assume their important role in society, in ways that empower them to uplift young Malawians, rather than attempt to destroy their future, as was the case with Mwandilakwira in 1972. Let us use the occasion of our independence anniversary to ponder the kind of future, and the kind of peace, we want for