Jasmine Coumbaya, a Canadian from Quebec City, never heard of Malawi before last week. She heard about the impoverished Sub-Saharan country when she met an exchange student at a University in Montreal.
This is a very common phenomenon especially in developed countries. The ignorance is among other things the result of the silent media. The Washington Post, the New York Times and other media giants have written about Madonna and her adoption saga, while not mentioning or concentrating on the problems affecting the Malawian population. At the time that the Queen of Pop is fighting with judges, Malawi is experiencing a political crisis that has even escalated to cases of violence. Mr. Bakili Muluzi, the ex Malawian President has been banned from competing in the upcoming May 19th General Elections. This has caused an uproar among his supporters who pledged an unflinching allegiance to their jailed leader. While UK's The Guardian presents a case study on Madonna adoptions; Malawi is mourning with Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) after 22 supporters died at a FIFA World Cup qualifying game in a stadium of Abidjan in a stampede. Malawi is still struggling with problems like gender inequality, high children mortality and the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The only time that Malawi gets a window to expose itself to the world, Madonna takes the stage and all eyes unflinchingly focus on her without looking at the problems of the country. It is therefore not surprising that Madonna's adopted son David Banda is more popular than the country's President Mr. Bingu wa Mutharika or Mr. Kamuzu Banda, the Malawian first dictator.
Jasmine Coumbaya is not to blame for her ignorance on Malawi. The media should accept some of the blame. It is therefore not surprising to know that Coumbaya is already familiar with Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.
C. Phiri (Lilongwe for Mmalawi)
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