Canada through the eyes of an immigrant
Sunday, February 1, 2009
The cartoon by the late Vic Kasinja poignantly points out the problem in many Malawian churches: A church member confesses publicly her sin, which happens to be having sexual relations with both the pastor and the deacon. In many Malawian churches, the pastor basically owns the church, meaning that he can do what he wants to anyone he wants. As many Malawian women are very obedient and submissive because of their culture, they usually give in to the pastor's demands after little resistance. The majority of the Malawian population is Christian and therefore belongs to a church. AIDS is very rampant in Malawian villages and one of the major reason behind is the much condemned adultery taking place in the Malawian churches. Many Malawians view sex as recreation only and they usually look at the present pleasure and not the consequences. Malawian men view beautiful girls as objects that they must get, just like a Mercedes at a car dealer or a TV at an electronic store. It is not surprising that Malawi reggae musician Evison Matafale sung Poison is Sweet, A song about appearances that can deceive; "The poison is so sweet that is why it is killing many"
It seems that many men are never satisfied with their wives in Malawi so they go to the other woman who is more beautiful (on the outisde) than their wives at home. Many pastors do condemn adultery and fornication on the podium, but they only wait for the evening to actually practice what they condemned during daytime.
Actions speak louder than words, and conduct teaches better than admonitions. Young Malawians follow the steps of their parents especially when they are involved in church choirs after school. It is common knowledge that these choirs are mainly used for matchmaking purposes where relationships are formed and in doing so,HIV/AIDS is 'propagated' and Bible principles are broken.
Beauty blinds many, especially those with power. Pastors, choirmasters or deacons in rural areas usually take for themselves the girls that they want and desire. Sadly many girls in Malawi do not have a say in their own future, because the male figure always decides. It is normal in Malawi to see a girl finish high school with 1 or 2 children while still unmarried. The irresponsible father in such cases is usually dead (from AIDS) or is with another woman, therefore infecting or getting infected. Because of poverty, many Malawian husbands leave for few days to look for money in order to feed their own family, and while they are gone their wives become sexual toys for other men in the village. In many cases, the husband actually goes on what is commonly referred as "women hunting" (kusaka in chichewa).
Sadly, when a known HIV/AIDS victim die, the church usually refuse to officiate the burial ceremony allegedly because they do not want to have any part in sin. This also happen when the family of the victim cannot pay for the church's services. Generally, this is pure hypocrisy because some church members also had sexual relations with the victim.
14% of the 11 millions Malawians are HIV positive.
This article was written by Tsala Kamwendo, doing a Women Studies Degree at McGill University(Montreal) in Canada.