Knight International Journalism Fellowships

Malawi: Shedding Light on Development in One of Africa’s Poorest Countries

Edem Djokotoe led a team of 10 reporters and editors at Malawi’s leading independent newspaper, The Nation, in producing investigative reports that shed light on development issues such as farming, fisheries and fuel shortages. For the first time, a Malawi newspaper offers readers in-depth stories on key topics such as the near-extinction of fish species vital to the Malawi economy, grain-storage problems that threatened food security, threats to the environment from overuse of charcoal, and efforts to produce ethanol from an indigenous plant.

Under Djokotoe’s guidance, reporters and editors produced more than three dozen in-depth and investigative stories for the English-language Nation and its vernacular sister publication, FUKO. A story on the hardships of rural pregnant women trying in vain to reach clinics to give birth prompted the country’s president to lift a ban on midwives.

Journalists in Malawi receive little or no training, and news organizations suffer from scarce resources. Through workshops and mentoring, Djokotoe worked with more than 100 journalists and journalism students across the country to raise skills and introduce a higher standard of reporting.

Our Stories


  • 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.


  • Knight Fellow Edem Djokotoe working with two editors at The Nation.