Sunday, March 22, 2009

Internet, Elections in Malawi.

Recently the founder of the World Wide Web (WWW) or simple the web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, said the future of the internet lies in the mobile phone especially in poor nations. In a BBC Online interview
( Sir Tim is quoted as saying: "In developing countries it's going to be exciting because that is the only way that a lot of people will actually get to see the internet at all."
This is true to some extent looking at current trends in Malawi. The two cellular telephone companies, Zain and TNM are providing internet connection to phones that have web browsers. This is quite a big leap in terms of internet access in the country because the cost of handsets is slumping following removal of tax on the gadgets. Also more people are getting active on the web by using facebook and other social networking sites and mobile phones are proving handy. The cost of browsing using cellular telephones, I'm told, is quite low.

My 82-year old granny has never seen the internet although she makes jokes about sending to me some local Malawian foodstuffs through the web! I'm told she danced and sang after seeing a phone with a browser belonging to my mother. Now the matriarch will see what it means to be online! All that right in the village.

On the political front, former president Bakili Muluzi has been barred from contesting in the May 2009 elections because the Malawi constitution prohibits him. It is interesting that Muluzi is adamant that he will stand in the polls. I hope senior officials in his party see ahead and realise the futility of such words and quickly make a move to save their election chances!
Otherwise I trust God to remain faithful as I strive with academic endevours and contemplate life after finishing this course.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Goteborg and everything else...

It is good to be back to a place one knows very well. I arrived at night on the 3rd of February here in Goteborg, Sweden's second biggest city, but since I had lived in it before I knew where to go and what to do to get to my accommodation. It is nice to see familiar faces in the shops, church and the apartment after a year-long absence. In the telephone card shop I found the same old lady selling the air-time at the same price of last year. Excellent!

Today I learned that the president of Guinea-Bissau Bernardo Vieira, had been assassinated in an apparent tit-for-tat attack following an explosion that killed his rival, the army chief of staff. How terrible. But then west Africa has this long history of bad blood between democracy and military officers!

Back home in Malawi, former president Bakili Muluzi has been arrested and charged with the theft of some 11 million dollars of government money while he was in office.
He claims political persecution. But then wouldn't we be condoning impunity if we let the charges be dropped for political expedience? If Muluzi is innocent why not allow the law take its course and be vindicated after the due process? If Muluzi was in charge of state affairs and some political figure was accused of chewing that much of public coffers, would the ex-Malawi president honestly waive the charges aside?

The timing of the arrest could suspicious, but still any man or woman when facing charges of whatever nature should be ready to go through a requisite judicial process, for I am told one is innocent until proven guilty. And I would be happy to see Muluzi acquitted if indeed the charges are mere political oppression! That would shame whoever 'conjured up' such accusations against the former head of state not so? And Muluzi would forever walk with a swagger and with a song of victory on his lips, ain't it?

On a sad note today marks the 10th anniversary of my father's death, Alec Ardwell Mlenga. On 1st March 1999 he was all boisterous and joking as usual and I told him we would meet again on the 3rd of March since it is a national holiday in Malawi. Alas, the 3rd was when I escorted him to the cemetery. Rest in peace ye guitarist, 'Jimi Steve' and 'handsome man' as you called yourself.