Friday, February 29, 2008

While Here You Want To Be There...And Vice Versa

Life away from home is very challenging. One is uprooted from family, friends and relatives and all the familiar things like church, markets, banking and trading systems among other things. The adjustment in Europe for one coming from southern Africa is quite massive and life can be lonely and tough.

At some point one falls into the routine of the foreign land and gets used to the way of life, and in some cases they may even acquire close friends. Still the nostalgia and homesickness persists. One longs for home and craves for family and friends not forgetting the local food.

But when the time comes to go home, they are torn in between. They want to see their homeland, but they feel a part of them is also in the foreign country!! It is not easy at all. Once home one starts to recall that life left behind in the 'diaspora' and starts to have nostalgia. Try to go back abroad and you will start crying for home again!! It is such a heart-wrenching cycle.

(On a different note, I'm told today the 29th of February is marked by women proposing love to men in some societies here in interesting)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Similarities in Malawi and the UK

There are some things I have seen today which I can use to compare the UK with Malawi.

I noticed that alot of space is taken up wherever there is a cemetery in the UK, especially London, and the graves are close to each other. This is similar to the cramped quarters in the graveyards of Malawi. Some cemeteries in London are the size of townships like Chinyonga in Blantyre!!

Then I also saw that students' behaviour at my university here resembles what used to happen during my undergraduate days at Chancellor College: vandalism and thieving. Chanco students would steal property from shops and take the stuff to campus. It was called 'ku raiser' which in rough terms meant taking without permission, but in truth it was stealing. Look at the trolley at the gates of Whitelands College( part of Roehampton University)!!

It was taken from ASDA supermarket about two kilometres from campus, and dumped at the gates of Whitelands College. I have seen road signs abandoned on campus lawns too!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Global Citizens

Listening to a speech by pro vice chancellor of Roehampton University this week, something struck me. Andy Masheter said Roehampton University decided some years ago to adopt internalisation to prepare students to be global citizens. He said this was through having international students to study at Roehampton. Masheter's speech was captivating and interesting due to its content and manner of delivery...the pro VC was lisping, a condition I had when I was very young!!

The important thing is I was taken back to my undergraduate days at Chancellor College in Zomba, Malawi. In those days the constituent college of University of Malawi used to have international exchange students from as far as the United States. We shared rooms with them and ate the same food with these folks! Some even mastered the art of 'druze' or shoving and jostling to get served first in the cafeteria or library, while others frequented drinking joints at Chikanda Village and Chinamwali. Some Chanco students were on the other hand visiting the home universities of the visitors!!
I thought that was a great arrangement, but sadly it died down.
This was a very good point for cultural exchanges between the two sides. When two 'worlds' meet like this, there is no inferior or superior side. Both have something to learn from the other, just like it is when lecturers meet students.

I doubt it if Malawian students are getting prepared to be global citizens with little or no internalisation at our campuses. Are there still expatriate teachers? Maybe the curricula are doing that, I dont know. But the world is changing at a fast pace and it would be good to have Malawian graduates with skills to deal with the internalisation, digitalisation and globalisation of almost every facet of life these days.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Mangue Seche....

That is the Fillipino word for dried mangoes, in Chichewa: mango ofutsa!! Last night my classmate from the Philippines, Grace Sanico, introduced me to dried mangoes. The yellow juicy part of the fruit is pealed off and preserved for sale in packets that cost quite something. I was amazed by the taste....just like eating the Malawian mango ang'onoang'ono, maboloma ndi chiyambadodo . This is something Malawi needs to seriously think about.

During the rainy season when mangoes are at their peak, thousands (maybe millions) of the fruit are wasted because there is heavy focus on eating them fresh. If a batch is not sold within days the mangoes rot, and in the villages it is common to see flies buzzing around trees because of the decaying delicacy.

Imagine, if Malawi imported the technology of presevering mangoes!! The fruit could be enjoyed all year long and earn foreign exchange through exports. Malawians going abroad for further studies could possibly drop a packet or two of the mango ofutsa into their suitcases to help ease home-sickness.