• Apr 182011

    In Malawi, the battle over trees pits the poor population against the government

    Editor note: Knight Fellow Edem Djokotoe discusses contrasting philosophies between a government bent on prosecuting the charcoal industry and a rural population dependent on its profits.

    Two weeks after he returned from the UN climate change conference in December, Malawi’s energy minister, Grain Malunga, made a controversial public pronouncement: “Arrest all charcoal sellers.”

    Prosecuting them, he argued, would save the country from the devastating effects of deforestation and deter others from chopping down trees for charcoal.

  • Feb 282011

    Witchcraft in Malawi Provides Challenges for Journalists

    Editors note: Knight Fellow Edem Djokotoe discusses the challenges and various methods of identifying and prosecuting withcraft.

    The witchcraft stories that make the news range from spine-chilling and spooky to downright bizarre to fatally tragic. Take the case of 26-year-old Leticia Wyson from Nkondilile Village in central Malawi, for example. On January 15, villagers say she gave birth to two plastic bags containing a millipede, a snail, two mango seeds and nine small stones instead of a baby.

  • Jan 252011

    Presidential Celebration in Malawi Does Little to Help Struggling Newspaper

    Red carpet…a sea of tuxedos and dazzling, figure-hugging evening gowns…a phalanx of paparazzi looking for someone important or something offbeat to shoot.

    But this black-tie event took place, not in Los Angeles but in a giant marquee on the lawns of Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika’s State House in Lilongwe, the capital.

    The event in question was an awards dinner hosted by the state-owned and government-controlled Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), dubbed “Our People, Our Pride.” It is an annual ceremony to honor Malawians whose deeds have touched the lives of many—ordinary people

  • Dec 102010

    Bizarre Stories Sometimes Trump Substance, Even in Malawi

    When it comes to crazy things, nothing beats what Pilirani Lazaro, a 22-year-old peasant farmer from Kalaza Village in central Malawi, did recently.

    It may sound stranger than fiction, but on November 21, he took a knife, went into the bush, cut off his testicles and immediately put them up for sale.

  • Nov 32010

    Malawi President Lifts Midwife Ban After News Reports Paint A Grim Picture for Pregnant Women

    Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika had just returned home from New York where he had been attending a UN heads of state summit to review the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), making a detour through Havana—a city known more for its cigars than for its pies.

    As is customary, he held a press conference when he touched down at Chileka International Airport and used the occasion to flay his critics for complaining that his numerous foreign trips were draining the national treasury.

  • Oct 232010

    The Future of Fishing in Malawi

    Editors Note: Knight Fellow Edem Djokotoe investigates the fishing industry in Malawi

    The future of Malawi’s agriculture could lie in the hands of people like Heinrich Sitima, a 14-year-old school boy I met during a farm visit in Chiradzulu, a rural district some 30 minutes’ drive from Blantyre. He lives with his parents on Wambeu Farm, a 10-hectare sprawl with pigs, goats, cows, fish, bananas, cabbages, tomatoes, onions and a animal feed enterprise.
       Heinrich Sitima at Wambeu Farm in Chiradzulu Heinrich wants to be a farmer when he grows up.

  • Sep 232010

    A Dirty Word Called 'Development'

    Chapananga is a remote chiefdom on Malawi’s southern border with Mozambique. It is four and a half hours of meandering mountainous road and hard driving from Blantyre, the commercial capital of the country, where Nation Publications Limited, my host organization, is headquartered.

    In a month and a half’s time when the rains start, the area will be inaccessible by road transport, including their sturdiest and most reliable of 4x4’s.

  • Jun 152010

    Journey of a Thousand Miles

    Editors Note: The blog sums up what I will be expected to do in Malawi as outlined at the week-long orientation session at the ICFJ in Washington DC

    My journey to an Africa Development Journalism Fellowship in Malawi started with a significant first step in Washington.