Sunday Morning ~ The Hard Ask
Cirombo cinafera m’dambo la kamundi. ~ The lion died in the marsh called: “lemur” bush baby.
~ Chewa proverb
June 28, 2020
I was reading Chewa proverbs this morning looking in vain for one having to do with protests but found this one instead. I like it. It comes from a story of an unnamed marsh where children found a dead mouse. They decided to name the marsh the “Marsh of the Bush Baby”. When the lion heard this he was jealous. He wanted the marsh named after him so went to the marsh and killed himself there but the name was never changed. It was always called the Marsh of the Bush Baby. I read that and sighed. How utterly apropos and hopefully prophetic. I love thinking about these proverbs, their wisdom, and how they relate to our lives. I love how Malawians incorporate them into their discourse. Watching the current self-immolation of our “president” I thought this was just too delicious even though I hadn’t planned to write on that topic. But here we are.
I’m missing Malawi a lot this week. It’s now been a year since I was there and exciting things are happening. Malawi had a presidential election in May of 2019 when the incumbent, Peter Muthawika, claimed victory. It was felt to be largely fraudulent (the white-out on some of the ballots was a bit of a giveaway) and by the time I got there in early June there were huge, mostly peaceful, protests. Those protests persisted until the supreme court announced there were too many irregularities for the election to stand and there would be a second election in 2020. That happened on Tuesday of this past week and the results are exciting and historic. In 2017 Kenya had a contested election but the incumbent was returned to office after the second election. Malawi is the first African country to have the follow up election come out in favor of the opposition. Persistent (mostly) peaceful protests brought about this cataclysmic change for justice. Remarkable. Amazing. Seventy-three years of colonialism, thirty years of dictatorship, then multi party democracy for another twenty-five with it’s share of corruption and suppression. And now this turning point where the voice of the people would not be silenced. Way to hang in there my friends.
I want to go back to Malawi for several reasons. I want to work on the midwifery ward I so believe in. I want it to be a model for the rest of the world and I want to be part of it. I want to eat fresh avocados. I want to sip a gin and tonic while watching red sunsets that take my breath away. I want to visit the good friends I have there. I want to teach there again where I see such potential. I want to sit in an open Land Rover as the sun comes up with a guide explaining which birds are which and what each plant is used for. I want to drink good fresh tea. The Malawian spirit, despite all the hardships, despite all the illness and death, is so positive, so genuine, so accepting. I miss it. As I sit here in my garden and inhale the peonies I’m trying to figure out how to marry the two places I love and weave them both into the life I have left. I’ve got time to consider this now that we won’t be allowed in to any other country for awhile. Criminal mismanagement of this pandemic positions us now as lepers once were. It both terrifies me and comforts me that I’m not shocked by this anymore.
I’m glad I’m home to work for our upcoming election which has me cautiously optimistic. I’m kind of chuckling at the comments I see from my conservative brothers and conservative others. I can tell they are panicking. I just finished a four part training to help get out the vote in swing states where we have a real chance to take back the senate and remove this raving maniac and his enablers from office. The trainings were inspiring. There is so much about the political process I did not understand. I love learning how all this works and love seeing it come from the younger generation. I am so ready to have them take over. In the past I’ve sat on many a task force, through countless meetings were we discussed the problem of the day and how to address it. Frequently the meeting would end with some nebulous plan for moving forward. “Let’s all get out and do our part!” without really knowing what that meant. Often nothing took form. I cannot adequately describe or measure the frustration of those meetings. I want to help. I want to have an action to perform and don’t think I’m alone. The four part training was brilliant. Over 16,000 people signed up and overwhelmed the zoom session and it was inspiring to see how they quickly remedied that to stream live so everyone could watch. I’m telling you, we could be in very good hands. These sessions gave background into how the process works, where we need to focus, and how precisely we can take an action to be part of a successful outcome.
Protesting works. Asking people personally to participate, works. Having hope works. If anyone is interested, go to votesaveamerica.com and look for Adopt A State Voter Training. The videos are there to watch. I want Malawi to be proud of us! We can be like them!
Love to all,