Which way for Malawi ? Taiwan or China?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Recent news reports that Malawi wants to ditch an old friend, Taiwan for an upcoming superpower China has left me with more questions than answers.

Malawi has had diplomatic relations with the Taiwan since 1966. For being one of the few countries that have been recognizing the existence of Taiwan as a separate government from mainland China, Malawi has been a recipient of aid from Taiwan in various avenues such as agriculture, health, information technology, education scholarships, transportation etc However, the catch is now on the carrot that China is dangling to Malawi in exchange for a diplomatic switch from Taiwan to China. Media reports have it that China is offering an irresistible 5 billion US Dollar aid package for this switch.

Malawi has to choose between China and Taiwan since she cannot recognize both Taiwan and China at the same time as China's diplomatic policy does not condone a dual-recognition policy. If a country has diplomatic relations with China then that country is not supposed to have diplomatic relations with Taiwan since China regards Taiwan as its renegade province.

Taiwan is a democratic country which being a friend of Malawi for a long time deserves not to be ditched anyhow. This is in the spirit of Umunthu. By the way, Umunthu is a concept that describes traditional African morality which mainly concerns human welfare and it may also mean humanness. From an Umunthu point of view, one can not just ditch a long time good friend because a third party is offering some amount of money to terminate your friendship.

On the other hand, Malawi needs the money. The President of Malawi, Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika, has an ambitious and well-meaning vision to establish the Shire-Zambezi Waterway which shall lead to the construction of an inland water port that shall unleash Malawi from its disadvantaged position of being a landlocked country. And definitely this shall turn around the economy of Malawi. And just imagine, communist China is offering to finance this much needed project! In addition to this, Malawi will be selling its main forex earner, tobacco and sugar to China. With the anti-smoking lobby in the West, China will definitely be an alternative lucrative market for Malawi's tobacco. And lets not forget that China is emerging as the biggest trading partner with Africa and Malawi would not want to be left out. Of course, others have described China recent relations with Africa as neo-colonialism but after being given several raw-deals from the West, it seems Africa wants to try the East!

So the question is: Which way for Malawi? Taiwan or China? Am very expectant to see how this drama unfolds...


Emancipation of an African Mind?

Here is a collection of some reflections which I found on the Web on this mind-boggling topic. And I thought I should share with you, my blog readers.

From: Decolonizing the African Mind: Further Analysis and Strategy

The central objective in decolonising the African mind is to overthrow the authority which alien traditions exercise over the African. This demands the dismantling of [foreign]... supremacist beliefs, and the structures which uphold them, in every area of African life. It must be stressed, however, that decolonisation does not mean ignorance of foreign traditions; it simply means denial of their authority and withdrawal of allegiance from them. Read more ...

From: The African Renaissance and the Challenge of Globalization (2001)

Foreign aid has done more to keep Africa down, and to disempower her peoples. It has altered the African psyche severely, with greater impact than a century of missionary education—a testament perhaps to the power of money and technology. The beggar mentality of the elites, the almost holy-worship and adulation of Europeans, no matter what rank and level of education, the elite's rejection of anything African—from locally produced consumer products to doctors and African professors—are all testimonies of how deeply ingrained the 'dependency' mentality is. Reversing this colonial mental trap is the first and most important step towards the full emancipation of the continent. To deny the possibility of 'self-transformation' is to give credence to the widely held racist western view that Africans are an inferior race with very little appreciation of the values of democracy and progress.


The African continent, of course, is no stranger to globalization and its deleterious effects. More than any region in the world, Africa has paid a high price for the globalizing policies of rival capitalist powers as they strived to expand the geographic bounds of capital. Starting with the slave trade in 1650 and continuing under colonial rule after the Berlin Conference of 1884, the continent had been heavily drawn into the centers of capitalist accumulation, but always as a subordinate partner whose primary role was to contribute to the development of the metropolitan powers. The present globalization, much like the 19th century globalization under colonialism, could again leave the continent permanently scared unless African leaders and their people are mobilized to manage it successfully to their own advantage. For Africa, this is an absolute necessity if the continent seeks to avoid a repeat of the economic, social, political and psychological traumas of the 19th century globalization. Globalization of the 20th century should not be allowed to leave behind the same terrible legacies.


Africa's marginal position in the new global hierarchy, therefore, provides us with a compelling occasion to reorganize our political systems and economies, to strengthen the continent's capacity to become more assertive in international affairs, and to defend Africa's sovereignty. To bemoan and complain about the negative effects of global forces without taking the necessary counter measures at national and regional levels will do little to ease the pain of marginalization. As the esteemed Brazilian educator Paulo Freire succinctly put it, "the oppressors will never make change; the oppressed themselves must bring the change they desire". Read more ...

From: Ghanaian Mentality: Why are we the way we are?

I believe that the European trinity of slavery, colonisation and Christianity proved to be a powerful tool in shaping the way we thought and still think today. Essentially, the European adventure in these three areas stripped the African of his belief systems and his identity. He was taught that his way of life- his religion, his culture, his language, his skin colour, his very essence- was wrong and inferior to the European model. The Europeans knew that the most effective way of controlling a person was to control his mind. No wonder Bob Marley enjoins us, in ‘Redemption Song’ to emancipate ourselves from ‘mental slavery’-it is the worst kind. Read more ...


Nickel mining in Malawi?

Friday, December 14, 2007

For a long time, as Malawians, we were made to believe that our country does not have any mineral resources. This was particularly true during the 30 year one-party rule of the first President of Malawi, the late Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda. As for me, and I also hope with many others, we just kept wondering that our neighbours Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique all had and still have very active mining industries yet we did not have any except coal mining at Mchenga (Livingstonia Escarpments) mines. Many were puzzled that how could be the case since Malawi also lies in an area with a similar geological makeup as these neighbouring countries.

But since the year 2000 we have been hearing of successful prospecting of minerals such as uranium. And now we are hearing of Nickel. This is good news as mining will help broaden the base of our agriculture-dominated economy. By the way, among other things, nickel is used to form very important alloys such as stainless steel.

Here is an excerpt of an article about nickel mining in Malawi:

Exploration undertaken by UK-listed company Lisungwe plc in southern Malawi has established the existence of large nickel deposits at Chimimbe and Chimwadzulu.

Chairperson John Watkins says that the exploration work undertaken by the company, which includes a pitting programme, has confirmed that the two deposits contain several million tons of nickel ore – grading at better than 0,5% nickel – which is amenable to sulphuric acid leach extraction for the production of a nickel hydroxide product.

Read more of this article at miningweekly.co.za


Independence Without Food Is Meaningless

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Article Author: Gospel Mwalwanda in Lisbon, Portugal (Malawi News Agency - 10th December 2007)
Article Source: The Malawi Nation Newspaper

President Bingu wa Mutharika [of Malawi] on Saturday reiterated that it does not make any sense for a country to be independent and yet goes on begging for food.

Mutharika was speaking at a special side event organised by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan´s Alliance for a Green Revolution (Agra) at the European Union-Africa summit in Lisbon, Portugal.

The event, called Partnerships for a Green Revolution in Africa, was organized to discuss Africa’s agriculture and Agra’s work.

Also present were Burkina Faso president Blaise Compaore, Annan, and a top official from the African Development Bank.

Mutharika said food has been vital for mankind from biblical times. He recalled people of those days were able to perform their everyday activities because they were food secure.

He said even when the international community imposed sanctions on the then white-ruled Southern Rhodesia after it unilaterally declared itself independent, the sanctions did not work because the country had food.

Mutharika said Africa needs a revolution to transform the agriculture sector, adding he is already doing it here at home through the fertiliser subsidy programme and other agricultural strategies.

The President said at first when he introduced the programme, it was " a big battle because subsidies are taboo in international circles." However, he went ahead and gave vulnerable farmers seed and fertiliser at reduced prices.

He said the programme is bearing fruits because for the second year running, the country has registered surpluses. He said his government has also created an internal market infrastructure for distribution and buying crops. Irrigation has also been intensified because the country’s rainfall pattern is unpredictable, he added.

"Malawi is not poor. We are poor by choice. We could get out of it," he emphasised.

Annan said agriculture is the mainstay of most African economies, pointing out that 70 per cent of the continent’s employment is on the farms.

The former UN chief asked African governments to put in place right policies that would benefit their people. —Malawi News Agency


My Favourite Video for December 2007

Sunday, December 09, 2007


Today, 6th December, 2007

Thursday, December 06, 2007

These are pictures of me, today, inside the "matrix"...


Ending Famine, Simply by Ignoring the Experts

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Article Source: The New York Times 2nd December, 2007
Article Author: Celia W. Dugger

Malawi hovered for years at the brink of famine. After a disastrous corn harvest in 2005, almost five million of its 13 million people needed emergency food aid.

But this year, a nation that has perennially extended a begging bowl to the world is instead feeding its hungry neighbors. It is selling more corn to the World Food Program of the United Nations than any other country in southern Africa and is exporting hundreds of thousands of tons of corn to Zimbabwe.

In Malawi itself, the prevalence of acute child hunger has fallen sharply. In October, the United Nations Children’s Fund sent three tons of powdered milk, stockpiled here to treat severely malnourished children, to Uganda instead. “We will not be able to use it!” Juan Ortiz-Iruri, Unicef’s deputy representative in Malawi, said jubilantly.

Farmers explain Malawi’s extraordinary turnaround — one with broad implications for hunger-fighting methods across Africa — with one word: fertilizer.

Over the past 20 years, the World Bank and some rich nations Malawi depends on for aid have periodically pressed this small, landlocked country to adhere to free market policies and cut back or eliminate fertilizer subsidies, even as the United States and Europe extensively subsidized their own farmers. But after the 2005 harvest, the worst in a decade, Bingu wa Mutharika, Malawi’s newly elected president, decided to follow what the West practiced, not what it preached.

Read more at The New York Times ...


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