Passing through Chipembere in Blantyre, Malawi

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Photos from Chipembere Highway in Blantyre (Kabula) Malawi as captured on 17th June 2009

Photo credits: Kondwani Kaunda and Bennett Kankuzi.
More photos on Malawi at


Of foreign adoptions and the Day of the African Child

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Today, its 16th June, a day in which we celebrate the life of an African child. Originating from remembering the massacres of the innocent children in Soweto, South Africa in 1976, we now reflect on the plight of the African child. Indeed we now reflect on the need of the African child to have access to quality education, health, protection against abuse etc. This is because the future of our beautiful African continent lies in the hands of the African child.

Some kids on Chizumulu Island on Lake Malawi in Malawi!

In this post, I would like to share my thoughts of having western 'celebrities' come to Africa to adopt our orphans and vulnerable children. In particular, I would like to refer to a case in which Madonna has been allowed to adopt another child in Malawi. I do not wish to hide that I am one of the many Malawians who are not happy with this decision.

Imagine if all our orphaned children were put up for foreign adoption, what would become of their destiny and indeed the destiny of Africa at large? Obviously as Africans we have our own culture and traditions that can not just simply be ignored for material prosperity in a foreign adopted home. Much as we appreciate that a child needs material care, we can also not ignore the need to protect the African identity of the child. If at all, one is interested in the welfare of African children, the solution is not to just pick one or two kids out of the many thousands of orphaned children out there! What is wrong with helping the kids while the kids are right here in Africa like what Oprah Winfrey does? This idea of 'fishing out a single kid' out of Africa as what Madonna is doing can simply be rated as 'media charity'.

A question then pops up in my mind! Is it that as Africans we have failed to take care of our African children? Maybe we can say so? How? It is very surprising that these kids being put up for foreign adoption are being found in orphanages. If not mistaken, this orpanage syndrome is a new phenomenon across Africa. Why do I say so? Normally, in an African communalistic setting, one is supposed to take care of relatives children as if they are your own children. So even if a parent dies, the relatives of the deceased are supposed to take care of the children. But what do we see now? Relatives quickly send the orphaned children to orphanages. This is why there are so many children in the orphanages now.

Where has our African Umunthu spirit gone? Is this a sign that African cultural values are being eroded? In addition to this, we should go back to our African traditional values that always insist that those who are mature enough are the ones who should get married and have children who they can manage to take care of. Otherwise, we shall keep on having problems of children who lack parental care.


Facebook in Kiswahili is a great idea!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Just read on BBC news website that a Kiswahili version of Facebook has been released! Honestly speaking, I am thrilled. Long at last, African languages are also gaining prominence as communication medium in the cyber world. I do not know KiSwahili, but this idea is just great! At least to me... What about you?


To google or to bing?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Of late, this blog has been getting a lot of hits from Bing, the new search engine or rather "decision" engine from Microsoft. So, having gone to, I encounter a simple and clean interface of a new kid on the block in the search engine arena.

Personally I like the simple interface of Bing. In addition to this, provision of preview of websites listed in the search results is a big plus. I do not know if Bing is faster than Google or whether Bing is just a propped up Windows Live?

However, in my opinion, I think Google will this time around have a serious competitor in the search engine world! So whether to google or to bing thats one's choice. But surely only time will tell, who leads the pack!


Picture of victorious Bingu wa Mutharika and Joyce Banda

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Photo of Bingu wa Mutharika and Joyce Banda during the gruelling 2009 Malawi General Election campaign. Bingu became triumphant with over 65% of the votes cast by a huge turnout of Malawian voters. His party the Democractic Progressive Party (DPP) has more than 114 seats in the 193 seat Malawi Parliament. Congratulations Dr Bingu!


Contact Details

Friday, May 08, 2009

Email: bfkankuzi (at)
Facebook: Bennett Kankuzi
Flickr: bfkankuzi


Bitvise Tunnelier: a faster alternative to Winscp

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I normally like to transfer very big files from my Windows machine to a Linux webserver. In the past I used Winscp and it was painfully slow to transfer even just a 10MB file.

So with a little googling, I found a 'diamond in the rough' by the name Bitvise Tunnelier. Below is a screenshot of one of my file transfers using Bitvise Tunnelier. It was reasonably very fast and the automatic reconnection feature is just one of the many nice features of Bitvise Tunnelier.

You may download it at


A Joomla 1.5 Hack: How to modify properties of category list layout

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

For those who are using Joomla 1.5 and they would like to directly manipulate their category list layout. Here is a list of steps to easily do this:

  1. Go to {your joomla root directory}\components\com_content\views\category\tmpl\default_items.php

  2. Modify the code there to your liking!


Bravo to the Ministry of Local Government in Malawi!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development in Malawi recently launched their website. The url of the website is

I followed the official launch of the website through Zodiak Broadcasting Station, one of the most vibrant private radio stations in Malawi. To the Ministry of Local Government in Malawi, I say keep it up! In fact, other government ministries in Malawi should follow this good example. Nowadays, we can never underestimate the power of posting information on the Web!


Why should the Malawi Electoral Commission have a website?

Monday, March 09, 2009

Addendum: MEC has now a website at

19th May 2009 is fast approaching. Definitely, this will not be an ordinary day for Malawians. On this day, eligible voters will trek to various polling stations to participate in the fourth multiparty presidential and parliamentary elections. After all the campaigning, contestants shall have to wait on the verdict by voters on this day. As in any race, there will be winners and losers. If there is transparency in the electoral process, losers will honourably accept that maybe that is not their time to win. As the wise man said everything has a season. Time to lose an election and time to win an election.

An elderly woman votes in Malawi (May 2004).
Picture courtesy of VOA News

However, one thing that determines the success of an election is transparency. If an electoral process is transparent, various stakeholders could quickly agree on an outcome of the result. With the counting of votes being crucial, one would expect the announcement of official results to be publicly available through all form of media such as radio, television, newspapers, etc

Of course, some have advocated for the establishment of a parallel tally centre for the forthcoming elections. This issue is quite debatable but one thing that is certain is that people would want that official results be announced to the public as the results will be trickling in from different polling stations. This would enhance the spirit of transparency.

In my opinion, I think that one of the ways through which the Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) could foster transparency in the electoral process is through the establishment of its own website. Unless I am mistaken, I have not yet come across a website for Mec. A google search for Mec website also yields nothing except website links that talk something about Mec.

A website for Mec will definitely serve as one of the platforms through which Mec would make official general announcements to the public. In addition to this, election results would be posted on the website as the vote counting process would be unfolding. This would give the public real-time updates of the vote-counting process.

We also know that the election would also attract the attention of the international community. In addition to this, we should also not forget Malawians who are living abroad. The electoral process would also be of high interest to them. The Mec website would therefore also help these stakeholders to follow the electoral process in Malawi through an official website of Mec. Otherwise, they will do so through grapevine websites!


Computer Science is different from Information Technology!

Friday, February 27, 2009

I am a computer scientist by profession. However, one thing that surprises me is the fact that many people (only here in Malawi?) fail to distinguish computer science from the so called "information technology". So I googled on this and following are some of the results:

Computer Science, Computing, Computer Studies, ICT and Information Technology – are they all the same thing?

There is unfortunately a lot of confusion over these terms in the general population and in schools, and people who should know better use them as if they were interchangeable. Computer Science is the study of information and computation. The other terms are more vocational and mostly describe training courses in how to use particular pieces of software. Think of it this way: someone with an ICT qualification will know how to use a program like Word. Someone with a Computer Science qualification will know how to create a program like Word, and will also know how to make it easier to use, how to make it work on a variety of machines, how to make it easy to add additional functionality, how to fix bugs in it, how to make it communicate with other pieces of hardware or software, how to market it and how to deal with any legal or copyright problems with it. They will understand the theoretical basis underlying the program. They will also know how to do a million other things besides. Not just now, but throughout their working career.

Source: University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory

From a very broad perspective, Computer Science is the study of the principles of computing. It helps you better understand how computers solve problems, the kinds of problems that a computer can solve and how one would present a problem to a computer. Abstract ideas that rely on fundamental mathematical theories are at the heart of Computer Science. Information Technology is the study of technology that drives Information Systems for businesses. Understanding how technology/tools can best meet the Information management needs of an organization is at the heart of IT. Familiarity with such tools is an essential for a successful IT professional. The interesting relation between the 2 fields lies in the fact that more often than not, it is Computer Scientists that design and develop these tools that an IT professional uses. Personally, I think that an adaptable Computer Scientist should not find it difficult to migrate to the field of IT (if he/she chooses to do so) by learning more about the technology that is predominately used at his/her organization. An IT professional on the other hand, will have to go through mathematics/CS training in order to be a good computer scientist. In a nutshell, Computer Science is about understanding generic concepts,whereas IT is about knowing more facts.

Source: WikiAnswers

For more on what computer science is, check on Wikipedia


Finally we have fuel price cuts in Malawi...

Monday, February 02, 2009

I can't contain my joy that finally the government of Malawi has reduced fuel (gas) prices effective 1st February, 2009. While the rest of the world was enjoying fuel price cuts on the world market, Malawians were still being pinned to the wall!

The new fuel prices charged per litre are as follows: Petrol charges have been cut from MK251.20 (US$1.75) to MK213.50 (US$1.50), diesel was at MK234.50 (US$1.65) and is now at MK199.30 (US$1.40), while kerosene (or paraffin) was at MK165.30 (US$1.16) and is now selling for MK132.20 (US$0.93).

On a personal note, I use an automatic transmission car (a Toyota Ipsum Picnic) and I must say that somehow it consumes more fuel than my previous manual Mitsubishi RVR sports gear. I do not know if there is any scientific evidence that automatics consume more fuel in comparison to manuals. But my instincts are indicating that automatics may be fuel guzzlers!

In general, as Malawians we also expect a reduction in costs of transport, food etc. This is because in Malawi increase in fuel prices automatically trigger a corresponding increase in prices of essential goods and services. Moreover, as consumers in Malawi we have a right to demand a corresponding decrease in prices of goods and services this time around. That is if our businessmen, especially minibus owners, are honest enough!

Finally bravo to all civil society organizations in Malawi for fighting tooth and nail for the common Malawian to have this fuel price cut!


Short Course on Advanced Computer Skills for Scientists in Malawi

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I thought I should share the following information with fellow scientists in Malawi:

The Department of Mathematics & Statistics at Malawi Polytechnic, a constituent college of the University of Malawi is pleased to announce a short course under the theme "Advanced Computer Skills for Scientists in Malawi". The course has been designed to equip Malawian scientists with necessary skills in this modern world of computer technology. The course runs for five days from 23rd February 2009 to 27th February, 2009.

Some of the content for the course include:

  • Scientific information in the Digital Age
  • An African scientist in a dynamic scientific world
  • Scientific document preparation using LaTex and BibTex tools
  • Advanced internet search skills for scientific research work
  • Utilizing digital libraries for scientific research work
  • Collaborative networking techniques with fellow scientists around the world
  • Scientific Talk presentation: Microsoft PowerPoint vs. the Latex Beamer class
  • Using weblogs to disseminate scientific information and improve scientist profile
  • An overview of scientific computer packages

Course fees: MK40000.00 including lunch and snacks. However the fee does not include accommodation.

For more information email maths (at) or phone 04188893/09771807/08747059


Announcing a Secondary School Mathematics Software Package for Malawi ...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Alinune Musopole, an undergraduate student in the Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematical Sciences Education programme at the Malawi Polytechnic, a constituent college of the University of Malawi, has developed a mathematics software package for secondary schools in Malawi as his final year project. As with the localized word processor project by Edmond Kachale, I also share with you esteemed blog readers a synopsis of this project. Also watch out this blog for more featured projects!

Project Title: A Secondary School Mathematics Software Package for Malawi
Project Author: Alinune Musopole (nune_musopole (at)
Project Supervisor: Bennett Kankuzi (bfkankuzi (at)
Project Location: Dept of Mathematics & Statistics, Polytechnic, University of Malawi


There are many challenges that secondary school students in Malawi are facing in the learning of Mathematics in Malawi. Examples of these problems are lack of confidence, lack of practice and lack of motivation by students.

One of the ways through which problems faced by secondary school students in the learning of Mathematics can be alleviated is the use of the computer. Computer software, particularly Mathematics software packages, can help reduce problems faced by students in the learning of Mathematics in Malawi as practicing tools, hence we developed a software package that shall be used by secondary school students in the practicing of Mathematics. The software package is based on the Malawi Senior Secondary School Mathematics curriculum and the package is called a Computer Package for Secondary School Mathematics (CPSSM) for Malawi.

The algorithms and user interface for the program have been implemented using a Turbo C++ compiler and the Object Windows Library (OWL).

An executable of the project can be requested via the given emails. Full LaTex and pdf reports of the project can also be requested via the same.


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