For years, I have read and written stories, albeit from afar, about floods and the damaging effects they leave behind.
In all these years, I never had the opportunity to visit any flood site or a survivors’ camp while the floods were still in their semi-active state. Few weeks ago, I had the chance to visit Kanseche Camp in Traditional Authority Maseya in Chikwawa.
My experience at the camp gave a face to the real plight that flood victims encounter. Some of the stories that the survivors shared were almost surreal.
How does one sleep standing with water measuring above his waist while carrying an elderly person or a child? How does one spend two full days perched on the roof top of his fragile house? How does one spend three days seeking shelter on a tree top?
No one can imagine such experiences and stories, but that is what people in the affected districts have had to contain.
In the camp, the conditions they are living in are equally dehumanising to say the least. The make-shift shacks they call their temporary homes cannot pass any hospitality test on any planet. But, it is their only option and they have to call that home.
Having their property, including foodstuffs washed away only serves to increase or double their troubles. Here we are with a people in need of basic shelter, clothing and food too. Their needs are just so real and huge.
It is in this vein that any little assistance that can go their way is a huge blessing to these suffering families. They are in need of a serious bailout and so far organisations, individuals and the government have done their best to alleviate their plight.
To this end let me salute the efforts that musicians in the country have made in trying to play a role to help their fellow Malawians in the affected areas across Malawi. The two fundraising concerts in aid of flood victims that have so far taken place are just the kind of intervention needed.
Music appeals to large masses and musicians should realise that they preach to a wide constituency which has cross-cutting needs periodically. Among these flood victims, there are people who have in a way helped to elevate their status by supporting their art.
It can please me to see my favourite artist sweating it out on stage to make a penny to help my cause in my hour of need. That can surely make me forget my problems momentarily.
The spirit of giving out doesn’t mean you are overly endowed or swimming in plenty yourself, no! It boils down to the realisation that the next person needs a hand. The musicians may have their own financial needs, but it is nice to see that they have paused that for a moment to join a drive for a good cause.
Some of the problems in the country need local interventions. Each entity needs just to pitch up and play their small role. If you always look out to your neighbour to bail you out, you retain little respect in his eyes.
Much as the need facing our brothers and sisters in the affected areas is huge, but it is not a situation that is beyond the 19 million plus people of this nation. We can do it and we need to do it.
For those who have led the musicians to come together to create this fundraising platform, keep up the noble work. Sometimes the power to help our situations lies within us, but we just need a catalyst to set it in motion. Let us continue singing for the liberation of our brothers and sisters. n