A review of Malawian music on the Voice of America (VoA)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Matthew LaVoie of the Voice of America blogs about the journey of Malawi music from the 1960's to present. He starts his post by writing:

Nestled between Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique; Malawi has earned its name as the 'warm heart of Africa'. And 'warm' is precisely the adjective I would use to describe Malawian music. There is sunny optimism in much of the Malawian music I've heard and after a grim weekend of cold, rain and snow here in Washington D.C., I figured I'd warm myself with a few Malawian recordings from our collection...

Read the whole review at http://www.voanews.com/ and be sure to dance to some of the tracks posted there. I am using Mozilla Firefox and am able to play the music there. My favourite song is 'Patricia' by Robert Fumulani and Likhubula River Dance Band. The song reminds me of my childhood days in the 1980s and of course the song is very nice. The lead guitar in the song is so distinctive and is blending very well with the bass etc. Guess what? Am literally jiving right now (celebrating our African heritage!)...Hahaha! Mixing business with pleasure. Malawi moto...!!!


An alternative view of Malawi (part I)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

This is the undulating Nyika National Park in Northern Malawi...

Summer animal watching in Nyika National Park in northern Malawi

Watching elephants in Vwaza Marsh Game Reserve in northern Malawi

On Zomba Plateau in southern Malawi...

Ku Chawe Inn on Zomba Plateau in southern Malawi



The challenges of doing academic research in Africa

Monday, February 11, 2008

Update to this post (25/09/2015)

My PhD thesis defence was held on 28th August 2015 at 12 noon at the University of Eastern Finland School of Computing in the Louhela Auditorium, Joensuu Science Park in Joensuu, Finland. A summary of my PhD thesis is at http://bkankuzi.blogspot.com/2015/09/a-summary-of-my-phd-thesis-in-not-so.html

Working as an academic in a university in Africa can be a challenging task. It really requires a spirit of service to a nation, otherwise one easily gets frustrated by the impediments that he faces as he/she tries to discharge his daily duties.

One of the duties of an academic is to conduct research in their area of interest and specialization. Well, finding equipment for doing research is in itself a big huddle in most African universities. Apart from this, there is the daunting task of trying to disseminate your research findings in international conferences.

By this I mean, getting your research paper accepted for some international conference may bring joy to the researcher. BUT, wait a minute, the researcher would have to fund from his own pocket for expenses like conference registration fees, transport, accommodation and other associated costs.

This in itself is a stab in the back of an African researcher, because normally host institutions do not have funds for these expenses. This is because most universities in Africa are funded by their governments and definitely the funding is never enough. Of course its understandable since the governments have "priorities within priorities" in their national budgets. The governments have to fight for national food security, clean water, infrastructure development etc for the masses and funding academic research would never make it into the priority list.

However, this situation might lead others to conclude that there is no academic research being done in Africa which is not necessarily true. Unfortunately, world university rankings take research publications into account. So you better not be surprised to see many African universities not faring well in the rankings!


On the re-introduction of quota-based selection in universities in Malawi

Saturday, February 09, 2008

News is making rounds about proposals to re-introduce the previously abandoned quota-based selection in universities in Malawi. I receive this news with disappointment! The basis of my disappointment is the fact that I believe that entry into universities in Malawi should be on merit as is currently the case. Currently students sit for an entrance exam which tests their language, mathematical as well as general reasoning skills. I think this filtration mechanism is meritocratic.

I support my position with part 1 of Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which clearly states that:

(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

In case you missed it, the article clearly states that "higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit". Then why should we start violating this fundamental human right? I, as an individual, would like to be judged by the content of my character not based on my skin colour, ethnic group, region, gender and other discriminatory devices. As Martin Luther King Jnr said in his famous "I have a Dream" speech delivered on 28 August 1963:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I think it is not fallacious here to equate content of character to merit. Simply put, I should be judged on merit!

Yes, some are complaining that there are some regions which are being favoured with the current university selection setup. To them I would need to ask them a few questions. What makes the other regions favoured? Is it that there are better schools in the so-called favoured regions? What makes others not do well in the university entrance exams? Is it because of the region, district or tribe where they come from? Should performers be rewarded with discrimination? Can we instill hard work like this in our youths?

In my opinion, I feel that a better solution would be to increase the intake capacities of each of the universities in Malawi so that at the end of the day every student who QUALIFIES should be able to get a place in the universities. Entrance exams to the universities should also be well coordinated among the universities so that we do not have students hopping from one university to the other.

Otherwise, we do not want our beautiful and peaceful Malawi to be plunged into a path that fuels regionalism and tribalism. I think the Kenyan example serves as a warning example.

I need to be judged as a Malawian not based on my district of origin, language, ethnic group etc. I end with a quote from Confucious:

In teaching there should be no distinction of classes


A first-hand witness on stereotypes about Africa

Friday, February 08, 2008

I stumbled on this blog post by Ryan Price, a missionary in Malawi, who writes honestly about stereotypes some people have about the continent of Africa. This being one of the themes of my blog, I decided to feature it for you esteemed blog readers. Ryan opens his blog post by writing:

It seems like more than any other place on earth, Africa has more mystery, depth and stereotypes.

The more and more I talk to people about my experiences in Malawi, I frequently hear something like... "Wait... but I always thought..."

Please read on this eye-opening post at his blog: Hope from Malawi


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