For the numerous times I have interviewed him for our Political Index column in The Nation, Michael Usi , aka Manganya, has not failed to convince me that he is public intellectual, a social and political critic you can trust.
Unfortunately, for a contemptuous and hilarious comedian he is, Usi is always seen from the prism of Manganya. His take on issues are barely taken seriously for he is always viewed as Manganya, not Usi. The diving line, which is supposed to be thick, appears to be thin and porous.
I do, every day, feel for my friend Usi like I do whenever Bon Kalindo, trading popularly as Winiko, takes a stand on public issues.
A fortnight ago, Kalindo—a Democratic Progressive Party (MCP) Mulanje Central legislator—sent us all into stitches of laughter when he said he will parade naked for the cause of the increased abduction and killing of people with albinism in the country.
If such news were to come from Billy Mayaya, a regular protestor, our immediate reaction could not have been laughter. We would have all taken it seriously.
However, it was quite phenomenal last Thursday when Kalindo, not completely naked, managed to mobilise that much and walked Lilongwe streets to send a strong message of solidarity with people with albinism to Parliament.
Well, there have been, as expected, different reactions to Kalindo’s driven ‘naked’ protest.
Some have concentrated on the nakedness of the protest and other on the ambiguity of Kalindo both as part of government—being an MP and also a member of the ruling party. I share the latter.
Ideally, I do not think it makes sense for an MP to push for legislation change by parading ‘naked’ in the streets. Kalindo can achieve that within Parliament by using a Private Member’s Bill.
In fact, we saw that in the last sitting when Malawi Congress Party (MCP) legislator Lewis Chakhwantha used a Private Member’s Bill to free the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) from the Executive arm of government.
The question is: Why did Kalindo think of parading naked, as opposed to using the Private Member’s Bill? How do fellow MPs, he is demonstrating against, think about his move?
Connected to that, is the fact that Kalindo is a member of the ruling DPP. In fact, he is a member of the party’s National Governing Council (NGC) as the deputy spokesperson.
Ideally, we expected Kalindo to work for and with the party on this issue to scale up the momentum, not against it. By going alone in the streets, wearing red not blue, the whole thing becomes surprising.
This, too, begs a question: Did Kalindo fail to convince his party to move for law review in Parliament? Or, perhaps, the party rejected him? Granted, what does the DPP, as a party and also as the one in the Executive, think of their MP demonstrating in the streets against what, apparently, is a vindication of the DPP’s failure to grant people with albinism security?
I do not know about you, but Kalindo’s move appears to be a pointer to something big and untold within Parliament and the Executive.
Kalindo, of course, might not, explicitly, tell us why he chose the streets not Parliament and DPP NGC to move for a law review in protecting people with albinism.
However, his bold action has made a pragmatic statement regarding the failure of our Parliament and the Executive in protecting people with albinism.
At least we know now that the DPP, a party founded on principles of internal security, has left its legislator alone in this fight against increased abduction and killing of people with albinism.
Now that we know, the next step is to find out why Parliament and the DPP has acted this way. This, yes, will not be the job of Kalindo again. It will be our collective duty as a nation.
For now, we should all thank Winiko—oh sorry, Kalindo—for sparking the truth. Indeed, comedians need not always be seen as such. Amaona nkhondo amenewa. n