Good people, Malawians have the right to hold mixed views on the [in]famous man-hyena of Nsanje who confesses having unprotected ritual sex with over 100 girls and women though he is HIV-positive.
Many are clearly shocked by BBC’s recent follow-up on Eric Aniva who told us some years back that he had lost count of his silent victims.
However, no Malawian has the right to pretend this is breaking news—the first time they are hearing about the practice which threatens the lives and rights of female citizens. Not even President Peter Mutharika, who ordered Aniva’s arrest. There are lots of two-legged hyenas in his Thyolo district.
The country seems not to believe the ills happening in our society until foreigners tell us what local journalists have been reporting for decades.
In this ostrich game, our leaders brag they do not take the local press serious. Joyce Banda said as much when she accused newspapers of killing her predecessor Bingu wa Mutharika. Even the incumbent Peter Mutharika, who seems to think newspapers have an axe to grind with him.
Yes, we have serious issues, at least when our leaders do not see the harsh realities that even children see.
Subtract a few bad apples, many journalists are only happy to tell the cruel truth because they have a duty to craft the first draft of the history of this nation and offer direction to duty-bearers who seemingly overlook the disastrous impact of the decisions they make in people’s name.
Thanks to these unsung agenda-setters, we are all aware of a special species of he-hyenas culturally endowed with redemptive power to cleanse girls and women from mysterious misfortunes resulting from widowhood, adulthood and whatever they think.
Besides the media, artists of all manner have worked hard to expose the appalling intrigues of kusasa fumbi ritual.
Remember how painter Massa Lemu and critic cum poet Timwa Lipenga re-enacted fallen novelist Steve Miles Chimombo’s Hyena Wears Darkness at the French Cultural Centre almost 10 years ago.
Published by Wasi in 2006, Chimombo’s 67-page book illustrates the impact of HIV and Aids in societies steeped in risky customs.
It takes readers to the heart of darkness where ignorance of graver impacts drives women and girls into the high-risk sexual intercourse fearing that they would die if they do not do so.
The dark veil blinds curious eyes from seeing the perilous orgy that happens behind the walls.
And the darkness thickens, spectacularly concealing the prolongation of the practice just when donor-dependent NGOs, disgraced government officials and widely blamed custodians of culture say it is over.
Lifting the heavy slab on the custom, Lemu unleashed his yellow, orange and red paints to confront viewers with a portrait of a young girl in tears whose dress agonisingly hangs above blood-stained undergarments while a bald-headed man lurks nearby, giggles and salivates with lust having possibly defiled her.
Think about that girl!
But this is no breaking news. Every girl deserves a safe environment, not this crazy world where leaders look away and pretend all is well when journalists, artists and concerned Malawians expose how right-thinking elders and antiquated customs worsen human rights abuses and communicable infections in the name of culture. Silence and indifference are a progressive way of life.