Protect your laptop from thieves with a Power-On Password!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

I have so many friends and other people I know who have at one point or the other complained that their laptop computers have been stolen by some very cruel homo sapiens!

But I think there is one way which many laptop owners fail to use so that thieves can not have easy meat over their laptops. This is by simply setting up a power-on or boot-up password on their laptops. With a power-on password set, the user is prompted for a password every time the laptop is switched on. As far as I know, it is very difficult to crack this password and it can only be reset by the laptop's manufacturer. This means that once the thief gets hold of your laptop they will not be able to use it and therefore it will be useless. With this in mind it might be easy to recover the laptop especially if you report the theft to police. Definitely, if all laptops had their power-on password set, that would greatly discourage the common PETTY theft of laptop computers. I think PETTY theft of laptops and mobile phones is a global phenomenon. Is this true in your country? In my home country, Malawi, laptops and mobile phones are a big target for these shameless thieves.

The power-on password is set using the computer's BIOS setup utility. If you don't know this and you want to set up one, then ask any person who is much knowledgeable in computers to do it for you. But remember not to forget the password as you might lead yourself into a self-lockout. Also remember not to choose an easy-to-guess password. It is always good and advisable not to use personal information for passwords. Lastly, but not least, keep the password secret to yourself!



In support of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Many people have had their views on the One Laptop Per Child initiative by Dr Negroponte. I wish to have my take on this.

Firstly, let me say that I am an African and a Malawian in particular. And Malawi is one of the countries in the so-called developing world. I would not say that Malawi is a Third World country because I have problems with the classification of countries as First world etc. I think it is not the intention of this post to air out my reservations on this demeaning classification.

In my opinion, I find no problems in the promotion of the one laptop per child project in developing countries. I know some people object to this initiative because they feel that it is a wrong priority for developing countries. However, I feel that this kind of thinking stems from the fact there is usually a misguided stereotypical blanket classification that all people in developing countries are very poor. I think these opponents forget that there are social classes like high-income, middle-income as well as poor people in developing countries as it is the case with developed countries. However, we cannot deny the fact that a LARGE number of people in developing countries struggle to make ends meet on a daily basis and there is need for social and economic justice to uplift them from abject poverty.

In my opinion, I feel that once a person overlooks the fact that there are also social classes in developing countries, it is very easy to conclude that a laptop per child is not necessary in that case. It is easy to falsely conclude that every child in the developing world is malnourished etc and therefore needs food, clean water, clothing etc. What we forget is that there are some kids (not necessarily from rich families) who definitely deserve immediate access to technological advances like a laptop computer. I for one did all my primary school, secondary school as well as undergraduate degree training in public schools in Malawi and I could have wished that I could have been exposed to technology like computers at a much earlier age. Therefore, we have to realize that denying these deserving kids a chance is perpetuating the already existing digital divide with their counterparts in the West and the rest of the developed world.

So, lets give the deserving kids the laptops and for those who are very underpriviledged, lets give them what they need most ie food, shelter, clothing and most importantly education which I believe is a key to human development. To this end, I therefore strongly support Dr Negroponte's vision.


The energy demand in Southern Africa

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I have been here for a year and half now. But yesterday was a different day. We had a substantial power cut from 1.00 pm to 5.00pm. Something which has never happened before (at least for the period I have been in Gaborone). I understand that South Africa's ESKOM is load-shedding its electricity distribution within South Africa and indeed to its neighbouring countries which import their electricity from them.

Apparently, the electricity demand in South Africa and indeed in its neighbouring countries like Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland and Lesotho is also growing. This means that supply is being surpassed by demand. And South Africa would like to take care of her needs first.

Yesterday's power cut reminded me of the various load-shedding programs we sometimes endure back in my beloved home country, Malawi. The load-shedding programmes are normally due to the high demand for electricity for domestic as well as industrial use. I strongly believe that this is an indication that the economy is growing. More people are connected to the power grid, more factories need more power, etc...

The electricity capacity being generated at the Nkula Falls power plant on the Shire River and the Wovwe River power plant in Northern Malawi seems not to suffice. At least we have some good news that we shall soon have an electricity interconnection from the Cahora Bassa power plant in Mozambique to supplement our generating capacity. In short, I can say that we shall be importing electricity from Mozambique.

In the short term, this might help. But I feel that we should also keep on exploring on more other power sources within Malawi. What about building more hydropower stations on our many perennial rivers? What about intensifying the use of solar electricity in many areas including rural areas? What about generating electricity using windmills? I am not an economist but I believe that self-sufficiency is one of the keys to sustainable economic development.


Qatari firm to build fuel storage facility and pipelines in Malawi

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I think this is another must-share article with esteemed blog readers:

Article source: The Peninsula (Qatari English daily)
Date: 22nd January, 2008

A Qatari firm will be building a fuel storage facility and setting up pipelines in the landlocked African nation of Malawi, which borders Mozambique, [Tanzania] and Zambia.

To cement the deal with Venessia Petroleum, three ministers from the African country are here to chalk out the details of the project which is valued at $140m to $150m and will take 36 months to complete, according to S Gauhar Ali Zaidi, the company's general manager.

The ministers, who arrived yesterday, are Mohammed Sidik Mia, Minister of Irrigation and Water Development; H F Chimuntha Banda, Minister of Energy and Mines and Goodall E Gondwe, Minister of Finance.

Banda told The Peninsula: "Our major oil supplier is BP South Africa, which gets most of their stock from the Middle East. Our requirements are one to two million litres of petrol per day."

According to Gondwe, the fuel storage facility, which will have a 90-day stockpiling capacity, may also be opened up to neighbouring countries. Speaking on the country's economy, he said: "Tobacco is our major export as also tea, sugar and coffee. In no time at all, we will be exporting uranium."

Malawi's GDP stood at slightly above $8bn in 2006. The country has a per capita income of $230, a figure which, Gondwe said, is slowly rising. "Our GDP is growing at the rate of around 7.5 percent a year," he said.

The country is hoping to build up its tourism sector with the prospect of a five-star hotel being set up in the capital, Lilongwe. Gondwe said his country hopes to extend flights to Qatar by the national carrier, Air Malawi. "Our airline flies to Dubai and we hope that we can carry the flight onward to Doha," he said.

Speaking on the HIV/AIDS problem that plagues African countries, Gondwe said: "We are the only country where the ratio of people affected has decreased. A lot is being done in terms of awareness and teaching people how to behave," he said.


When what you watch on TV matters!

Monday, January 21, 2008

I like this clip!


Mistaking Africa (Part II)

I am reading a book entitled Mistaking Africa: Curiosities and Inventions of the American Mind by Curtis Keim and in this post I will be noting more quotes from the book that I think I will have to share with you esteemed blog readers:

1. [page 162]

Africa is so vulnerable to stereotypical interpretations. [Unfortunately] it has no powerful group of advocates to challenge our myths. Moreover, events in Africa lend themselves to stereotypical interpretations, and of all the continents, sub-Saharan Africa seems the most culturally distant from us. This is true for both its rural and urban populations. Africa's diseases, famines, [floods?], poverty, wars, corruption, weak governments and other problems can be easily mistaken as indications of African backwardness rather than as evidence of the continent's complex history, in which WE OURSELVES participated...

2. [page 164]

Dialogue can help us avoid two significant dangers: universalism and isolationism. Universalism claims that we know the truth and that all true and good people should live according to that truth. Universalism leads to a hierarchical construction of the world and promotes control over others. Evolutionism is one form of universalism. At the other end of the spectrum, isolationism claims that everyone should be able to live however they choose, which is an impossibility on our shrinking planet and will lead to wars over cultural differences and dwindling resources. Dialogue, however, promotes transversality, the recognition that truth, so far as it exists for humans, lies somewhere between absolutism and relativism. Transversality affirms that we share the same time and place, that we are equal and different and that our individual and collective well-being are interdependent.


Mistaking Africa

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I am reading a book entitled Mistaking Africa: Curiosities and Inventions of the American Mind by Curtis Keim and in this post I will be posting some quotes from the book that I think I will have to share with you esteemed blog readers:

1. [Page 5]

A recent survey (1999) by a major American museum on popular perceptions of Africa found out many misconceptions such as the following: Africa is just one large country; Africa is all jungle; Africans share a single culture, language and religion; Africans live in "grass huts"; Africans mainly hunt animals for their subsistence; and Africa has no significant history.

2. [Page 7]

During much of [our] history, racism and exploitation of Africa have been considered acceptable to a large majority of [our population]. Although we never ruled colonies in Africa, [we] did enslave Africans and maintain both a slavery system and segregation. Moreover, we profited from our businesses in Africa, sent missionaries to change African culture and did not protest the colonization undertaken by Europeans. This exploitation of Africa, whether direct or indirect, required thinking about Africans as inferiors...The legacy is obvious in the words and ideas that we call to mind when we hear the word Africa...

3. [page 8]

We also perpetuate negative myths about Africa because they help us maintain dominance over Africans...Whereas in the past, the myth of the racial inferiority of Africans was the major justification for [our] control of Africans, now cultural inferiority is a more likely reason. Our news media are more likely to inform us about African failures than African successes. And the successes we do hear about tend to demonstrate that our own perspectives on reality are correct. [Some]... describe Africa in ways that justify the importance of their own work [in Africa].

4. Page 15

What is still lacking, however is a serious understanding of how people live currently in Africa. Today, 30 to 40 percent of Africans live in cities and most rural Africans are deeply connected to cities in one way or the other. Why then do the shows we see on television rarely ever show a city scene, a paved road, a farmer producing a crop that will be sold in a town or eventually reach us?...

5. On brain drain in Africa [page 77 - 78]

... Frequently those who gain special, modern skills dissociate themselves from their villages and countries. The "brain drain" of African professionals who emigrate to Europe and America is legendary. Less noticed, but equally significant is the drain of talent from African villages to towns and cities. Even more important in terms of damage done, are those who become westernized and then use their knowledge to exploit ordinary Africans...[the elite?]

I will be adding more quotes as I continue reading the book. I hope they are also providing a moment of reflection in your mind...


Uranium mining to boost Malawi exports by 25 percent

Saturday, January 12, 2008

I am compelled to share the following article with you, esteemed readers of this blog, as a follow-up to one of my previous blog posts on Uranium Mining in Malawi

Source: Mail & Guardian Online - Johannesburg, South Africa (11th January, 2008)

A uranium mining project by an Australian firm due to begin in northern Malawi next year will boost the country's exports by 25%, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In a new country report released this week, the IMF said the $185-million project by mining firm Paladin could add up to 10% of the Southern African country's overall GDP and 25% to exports.

However, the report said the impact in export earnings was likely to peak after an four-year surge before production slowly tailed off.

"The mine will add overall economic growth during the first four years but will then detract from overall growth as production is expected to wind down at the end of the mine's life" in 2020, the IMF said.

Paladin Africa, which last year received a licence to mine uranium at Kayelekera, 40km west of Karonga town, says the mine will earn Malawi $200-million in export income per annum.

The mining project, hailed as Malawi's biggest investment ever, had been due to begin later this year but the timetable has slipped amid challenges by environmental groups over its impact.
-- Sapa-AFP


Malawi in Top 53 travel destinations for 2008

I thought I should share this information with you esteemed blog readers:

Malawi has been rated as one of the Top 53 travel destinations for the year 2008. According to the International Herald Tribune, Malawi has been pegged at position 29. This is how Malawi has been heralded:

Blame Madonna. Safarigoers tended to overlook Malawi, but that has changed since she began her effort to adopt a 1-year-old boy from this small African country that lies within the Great Rift Valley. Next July, the luxury lodge Pumulani ( is set to open 10 villas on spectacular Lake Malawi, home to rare cichlids and pied kingfishers.

Read more on the rankings in the International Herald Tribune newspaper.


Imagine an Africa...

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Imagine an Africa
Where her people stop looking down upon themselves
Where her people drop their inferiority complex
Where her people stop looking at the other folks as their saviours
Where her people start looking at the other folks as equals and partners
Where her people realize that their skin colour does not make them different and inferior

Imagine an Africa
As a continent which is not looked down upon as a continent in despair and desperation
As a continent whose vast natural and man-made resources are used to develop her people
As a continent that has not been let down by the trinity of slavery, christianity and colonization
As a continent which is not judged by stereotypic images that pass through a biased media setup

Imagine an Africa
Whose youth realize that risking their lives trying to illegally cross dangerous seas for a better life in Europe is not a solution to their problems
Whose youth realize that its not where you are that makes a difference but rather what you can do with your brain and the available resources
Whose youth realize that the continent cannot be developed by other folks other than ourselves
Whose youth realize that the definition of modernity does not necessarily mean an abandonment of one's cultural heritage

Imagine an Africa
Whose people realize that they are one regardless of their tribal or ethnic nomenclature
Whose people realize that the political boundaries we now have were demarcated by the greedy colonialists
Whose people realize that with a little sacrifice together we can change the destiny of Mama Africa
Whose doctors, nurses, teachers, engineers and other professionals have returned from the so called diaspora to help develop Mama Africa

Am I dreaming of an Utopian Africa?
No! With hard work, determination and sacrifice we can do it!
Africans, lets wake up from the slumber

Copyrighted to Bennett Kankuzi (5th January, 2008)


Any lessons Malawi can learn from the Kenyan conundrum?

Friday, January 04, 2008

I am no political analyst but I always follow world politics with keen interest because I am in one way or the other whether directly or indirectly affected by political events (local or international).

With Malawi preparing for her 4th multi-party General Elections (Presidential and Parliamentary) which are due in about 17 months, I feel as Malawians we need to learn one or two lessons from the upheaval that is happening in Kenya.

I am no Kibaki nor Odinga's sympathiser (I feel that should be left to the Kenyans themselves) but I feel that in any democratic setup, the election process has to be clearly transparent. Of course, as Africans we are just in a process of embracing Western style of democracy and in this 'learning' process we are bound to face hiccups, but the basic need for transparency in an electoral process cannot be ruled out in this learning process. And one way to achieve a transparent electoral process is through having an election administering body that is clearly independent of any influence of any contesting political parties. Commissioners to this very important organization should be men and women of high integrity and patriotic enough that they have the country at heart especially the poor who are usually the victims of any mis-administration of a democratic electoral process. Imagine the burning and killings happening in the Kibera slum of Nairobi!

One other thing we can learn is that as Africans in general, we have embraced democracy as a way of choosing our leadership. Gone are the days when some people would become leaders just because they were born in the so-called 'royal' families (Am talking of chiefs here). Gone are the days when election results were manipulated and voters would just 'shut-up'. With the numbers of literate Africans increasing by the day, leaders are expected to fulfill their election promises or they would face the boot.

It seems Africa is going through a period which I would call a period of Africa's Enlightenment in which Pan-Africanism within the context of democracy is growing. As Africans we are realising that skin color does not make us different from other folks. We are a people which are proud of our own identity and we also highly value democracy and progress. We have realised that self-defeatism (inferior complexity) and having a sense of hopelessness and dependency will not help us. And the only way we can achieve this is through a transparent democratic process in which we can choose visionary leaders who can help us as Africans regain our dignity through a process of economic transformation and good governance. We need leaders which are not just good at rhetoric but rather who can deliver! I therefore feel that we should not be tempted to reduce Kenya's current political problems to tribalism. I feel that there is more to it than just looking at the tip of a colossal iceberg.

Of course to ask from us a replica of America's democracy would be to ask too much. America's democracy is about 200 years old (remember 1776) while many African democracies are very very young (10 years or so). And I think we need to adapt rather than adopt Western-style of democracy since our cultural and historical background are different from the West. That aside, I am very optimistic that Africa's democracy is in the right direction. I would ask pessimists and prophets of doom to give us more time!


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