"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)

7.25.2011

on malawi

Last week's 20 July protests in Malawi were met with a violent response from the country's police force, leading to 19 deaths and to President Bingu wa Mutharika to deploy the army to restore calm and openly threaten to "smoke out" the protest leaders if they continued. The horrible famine in the Horn of Africa and the tragic events in Norway have largely eclipsed this story, but it's one that needs telling in the international press in order to prevent more deaths and ensure that democracy remains strong in Malawi.

If you're looking for more resources to help tell this story, Global Voices' Steve Sharra wrote an excellent backgrounder that's available here. Malawian scholar Paul Zeleza provides excellent analysis of the politics behind the crisis here. Texas A&M political scientist and Malawi politics expert Kim Yi Dionne is keeping close tabs on events there; I highly recommend following her blog, Haba na Haba, especially the following posts:
On Friday, I was scheduled to be on the BBC's World Have Your Say 1pm show to discuss the famine in the Horn and piracy in Somalia. The topic was changed to the Malawi at the last minute, and given that it was 5:45 in the morning in Professor Dionne's time zone and therefore too early to call to get her to do it :), I did a quick read-up on the latest and jumped in on the show. You can listen to it here; it's worth listening to for the comments of Malawian journalists, protesters, and civil society leaders far more than for anything I had to add. It was a great treat to be on the show and I was so moved by the courage of the civil society leader and protester who spoke to the world about their country's troubles, thereby putting themselves at great risk.