Politics involves the use of power by one person to affect the behaviour of another.
In the country, this crucial aspect of life has long been reserved for partisan politicians who speak at public rallies or in elected assemblies such as Parliament and local councils.
That withstanding, it has generally been seen as abnormal when efforts to change the landscape come from someone other than those in the bracket.
But that seems to be changing.
The origin of influence that changes the political landscape has expanded.
Several activists have fought and are fighting for political change.
Artists are contributing to the sphere through the social media, music, poems, plays, and paintings, marches and sermons to advance the change.
July 17 2016. Enter comedian Michael Usi—popular in the arts circles as Manganya—at Comesa Hall in Blantyre holding a sermon christened Ali Ndi Ambuyawo.
During the sermon, he touched on a number of issues, including social injustice and corruption. He says these are dragging development backwards for poor Malawians.
With his sense of humour, Manganya combined scripture and his observation to rap the country’s political systems dating back to 1964.
“If what has been happening since 1964 is what you call politics then I am afraid to say that politics is bad for poor people. Is shielding thieves who steal poor people’s taxes politics? I do not think so,” said Manganya
He argued that true politics is understanding the needs of poor people, a majority among the country’s population.
“If we continue favouring few people that are enriching themselves from the desperation of the poor, Malawi will not develop, but further plunge into poverty, diseases, hunger, corruption and injustice,” he said.
Last week, musician Lucius Banda joined those who have condemned police brutality on students during protests against the University of Malawi (Unima) Council decision to hike tuition fees from K275 000 to K400 000 per year.
“I thought my work was over. It is time to write that song. I am imagining if this was my daughter Laura who was being harassed by the police,” said Lucius.
He said, being a democratic era, he expected the police to be reformed.
On July 16, Banda—who is parliamentarian for Balaka North—also expressed reservation on the way the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) is being implemented in the country.
He wrote on his Facebook wall: “When I write some trivial stuff I get thousands of likes and praises. It feels good reading such comments. But the inner me still forces me to keep writing the truth and ignore the insults. And here I am back with more truth.
“Subsidies are the number one way ruling parties in Malawi use to make money out of the poor.”
Banda argued that some officials use Fisp to appease each other and in the end people poor lose out.
He said, as a voice for the voiceless, he cannot sit back when poor people are being trampled on in the country.
Usi and Banda’s voices add to one that was started by Mulanje South MP Bon Kalindo, who made his name in drama spheres as Winiko.
The parliamentarian organised semi-nude demonstrations, agitating for stiffer punishment for those found guilty of killing, abducting or tampering with graves of people with albinism.
Although his action was dismissed as mere drama by some top officials in his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), his action seems to have carried weight as Parliament supported amendment of the Penal Code, bringing life sentences for such people.
Said Winiko: “If my action was interpreted as drama then it was drama for a real cause as I am happy that Parliament has finally heard the cry of poor Malawians.”