This is wrong.

A few  years ago, if I had told someone where my family is from, I got a lot of confused faces.

“Oh Mali, right? So your family lives in the Sahara Desert?”


“Yea Kamkwalala does sound like a Hawaiian name. It must be awesome to go to Maui all the time.”


“….Where?”

I think you get the idea. But the times, they are a-changin’. NOW when I tell people I’m from Malawi, I get:

“OMG has your family met Madonna?”

And the most recent, tragic one to-date:

“What happened to that gay couple?”

If you haven’t heard yet, Malawi, my family’s country of origin has been freshly plastered across news source after news source for jailing an openly homosexual couple for “indecency and unnatural acts”. And I will admit, I’m extremely disappointed. Unfortunately, I’m sure a lot of my excessively conservative family members will agree with the appalling, hurtful messages and slurs that have been thrown at this couple, and it makes me SO angry. If ever there was a time to be convinced that Malawi is headed backwards, this is it.

As I’ve said in other posts, I am grateful for the Malawian-steeped upbringing my parents gave to me, rife with their cultural lessons and structure. I love being from Malawi, I loved visiting, I love my family there, but I cannot bring myself to accept this. This is wrong.

A quote from President Mutharika’s advisor hit me especially hard:

“Some of these rights are not good for our culture.” -Betsy Chirambo

You let the adherence to what is, in many ways, a backwards aspect of your “culture” (because I refuse to consider this hateful sentiment part of Malawi’s culture) infringe the rights of your people? As if they no longer have rights because they have decided to be comfortable and open about how they want to live their lives, together? Telling someone that their way of life negates their cultural heritage is not right. Are they any less Malawian because they’re gay? Why? Give me one good reason.

In my honest opinion, it is a ridiculous, colonial-era law that should have been removed from their constitution a VERY long time ago. Malawi’s culture is not and should not be one built on hatred, on intolerance. It is a violation of their human rights, and a painful, gut-wrenching reminder that Malawi, along with other African nations like it, with such socially stubborn legislations, are going nowhere fast.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: it is 2010. It is time for a lot of people to get out of their own way and realize that just because someone doesn’t do something YOUR way doesn’t make it wrong. It makes it different. “Different” is not bad, and certainly not worthy of 14 years in prison. (and might I add, I’d be very surprised to find out that the Malawian government does anything to protect either of these men from any onslaught they may recieve while incarcerated. You’re basically putting them in a shooting gallery.)

Who are they hurting by being themselves? It is a personal choice who someone loves, and the government–no matter how convinced they are that they’re protecting their “culture”–has no right whatsoever the interfere.

My heart goes out to Steven Mojenza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga. I hope you get the help you deserve to save you from this terrible situation.

[Sources: CNN, MSNBC]

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One Response to “This is wrong.”

  1. Took the words out of my mouth sister. Especially the part about relatives that approve of their treatment – that hurts the most. Our fam is supposed to be about love and unity :-(No one's asking them to hug every gay person out there, just don't exercise hatred on people who did NOthing to anyone

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