The arrest of Eric Aniva, the infamous Nsanje ‘hyena’ has attracted a lot of comments. There are those who have applauded President Peter Mutharika for ordering the arrest of Aniva, a self-proclaimed ‘hyena’. There are also those who have applauded Mutharika’s seemingly bold move, but question why it has taken our leaders this long to act on the disgusting cultural ritual which has killed many.
The latter is angry that for such a long time the esteemed Senior Chief Malemia and leaders such as the President of this country have watched as girls and women were being raped in the name of tradition. It is not that they did not know about it, they did, but they paid a deaf ear.
Again there are those who are angry with Mutharika for openly saying the story of Aniva, published and broadcast worldwide by the BBC, has brought shame on him and a country hence his reaction. Now, therein lies a problem. I am one of those who are happy Aniva has been arrested, but mad at the fact that Malawi leaders, including Mutharika, reacted only after BBC regurgitated what the local media and NGOs have been talking about for a long time. As for the local NGOs right from the word go have been asking for an end to this tradition but no one listened.
As for the articles by local media, oh, wait a minute, our President is on record that he doesn’t read local newspapers. Maybe he should if he is interested in local issues like he has shown with the BBC-reported story.
While I am happy Aniva is answering charges in court, I am also mindful of the fact that simply arresting an individual will not bring to an end the sexual cleansing ritual mostly practised in the Shire Valley districts of Nsanje and Chikwawa. Aniva is just one of the many men who partook in the ‘hyena’ practice. There are women who willingly pay for their girls to be raped because they grew up being told that’s not wrong, it’s their culture hence they need to follow it.
While we are all excited about the arrest of one man, we need to look beyond what Aniva said and did. We need to search deeper and find lasting solutions to this practice. Trust me, as Aniva is spending nights and days in the cooler, there are still girls being raped by men of Aniva’s like because for them there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s tradition.
If President Mutharika is serious about this, he needs to get to the bottom of the issue and stop the hyena culture. Let there be enabling laws that should put a stop to this devilish practice. Arresting of individuals is not enough to arrest the deadly practice. n