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Appendix 3. Drunken Children

Harri Englund Indiana University Press ePub

A story broadcast on Nkhani Zam’maboma on July 19, 2003, followed by translation.

Bambo ŵina yemwe amagwira ntchito pa sitolo ya mwenye ŵina ku Limbe m’mzinda wa Blantyre akuti anamwetsa ana ake masese atasoŵa ndalama yodyetsera anawo. Bamboyo akuti amakhala [location omitted] kutawuni ya Ndirande m’mzinda wa Blantyre. Mwezi wathawu mkuluyu akuti sanalandire malipiro ake a pamwezi pa zifukwa za pakati pa iyeyo ndi bwana wake. Atafika ku nyumba mkuluyu akuti anapeza mkazi ŵake atapita kwawo kamba kotopa ndi umphaŵi. Mayiyo akuti anasiya ana onse amene anabereka ndi mkuluyo ndipo pofika pa nyumbapo bamboyo akuti anaŵapeza anaŵa akungolira ndi njala. Izi zinamuimitsa mutu ndipo anaganiza zosakasaka chakudya. Pochoka pa khomopo mkuluyu anatenga poto ndi kuloŵera kumalo ena kumene amagulitsa mowa wa masese. Atafika kumaloko bamboyo akuti anatolera mapakete a masese omwe anthu anataya ndi kuyamba kukhuthulira masese otsalira mu potomo. Poto litadzadza mkuluyu anabwerera kunyumba yake ndi kuŵiritsa masesewo. Ataŵira bamboyo akuti anamwetsa anawo omwe anaganiza kuti ndi mphala. Atamwa maseseŵa anaŵa akuti analedzera kwambiri ndipo mkulu anaŵanyamula ndi kuŵagoneka. Pakadali pano akuti bamboyo anaima mutu ndipo ŵasiya kupita ku ntchito.

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6 Stories Become Persons

Harri Englund Indiana University Press ePub

From semi-literates to academics, Malaŵians were generally familiar with Nkhani Zam’maboma. Although the regularity with which they followed the program varied greatly, virtually everyone I knew was able to discuss it with me. While many could cite its stories about witchcraft and errant authorities, some were unaware that the sources of those stories lay in letters, telephone calls, faxes, and e-mails from listeners.1 One university lecturer, for example, explained to me that from time to time some areas would emerge as what he called “hot spots,” locations where several incidents took place within a short span of time. Others assumed that the MBC’s network of reporters across the country supplied stories. What was remarkable about these perceptions was not so much their lack of accuracy as their expectation that the MBC could alone provide national coverage of localized stories. The expectation bespoke a residual faith in the broadcaster’s remit to represent the nation, whatever frustrations these listeners felt over its biased and didactic approach to other programs. In actual fact, in spite of having offices and studios in the three regions of the country, the MBC had no means of gathering stories from villages and townships on a daily basis.2 The frequent appearance of certain localities was a result of the frequent supply of stories from them.

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1 Rights and Wrongs on the Radio

Harri Englund Indiana University Press ePub

“Government says it is committed to ensuring that rural areas are developed.” Broadcast in the main news bulletin of the Malaŵi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) in 2006, this headline did not announce news in any obvious sense.1 Novelty was less important than the timeless legitimacy of the state, whatever the composition of the government conducting its affairs.2 The headline, in point of fact, was itself timeless. The year of its broadcast could have been any of Malaŵi’s independence since 1964, when after three decades of Kamuzu Banda’s autocratic regime, the country was ruled by two ostensibly democratic presidents, Bakili Muluzi (1994–2004) and Bingu wa Mutharika (2004 to the present). When I first arrived in Malaŵi in the twilight years of Banda’s regime, it was the MBC’s weather forecast that represented to me the station’s disregard for imparting information. I discovered that the weather forecast had had the same refrain for decades, regardless of the season: “The winds will be light and variable but gusty in stormy areas.” With its caveat and tautology, it seemed to sum up an ethos whose principal interest was to broadcast platitudes that would apply to any time and anywhere in Malaŵi.

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9 Beyond the Parity Principle

Harri Englund Indiana University Press ePub

The first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” While the Second World War had attached new urgency to the definition and implementation of human rights, the 1990s wave of liberalization in Africa and elsewhere revived this project in the context of crumbling autocracies and widespread poverty. Much as its principled attention to all human beings could inspire fresh political, economic, and legal challenges to the status quo, the discourse on human rights was often highly selective in practice. Of the first article’s emphasis on freedom and equality, only the idea of freedom came to inform the public interventions by Malaŵi’s human rights activists and democratic politicians. As has been seen, the very concept of human rights was translated into Chicheŵa through the concept of freedom.

It would be futile, however, to expect that a conceptual shift from freedom to equality would by itself rectify the neglect of social and economic rights that the emphasis on political and civil liberties has seemed to reinforce. As central concepts in liberal political and moral theory, freedom and equality have been shown to carry multiple meanings and open up potentially contradictory possibilities. Feminist theorists, for example, have argued that once decoupled from its association with personal autonomy and self-rule, “freedom” can prompt questions of how social relations and institutions both enable and constrain subjects (Hirschmann 2003: 35–39; see also Friedman 2003). Such questions become particularly contentious when they no longer assume a categorical distinction between the subject’s desires and socially prescribed conduct, or that submission to external authority necessarily subverts the subject’s potentiality (Mahmood 2005: 31). As for “equality,” some philosophers have at least since Rousseau recognized how the apparent neutrality of formal equality can consolidate existing inequalities by denying differences in situations, resources, and needs (Hirschmann 2003: 223–224). Moreover, equality comes with variable complexions and goals, with the demand for one type of equality (such as equal rights) inconsistent with the demand for another type (such as the equality of incomes) (Sen 1992).

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Appendix 2. Graveyard Visit

Harri Englund Indiana University Press ePub

A story broadcast on Nkhani Zam’maboma on July 25, 2003, followed by translation.

Mayi ŵina wa m’mudzi mwa [location omitted] akuti anapezeka ali kumanda masanasana dzuwa likuswa mtengo. Mayiwo amene wangoyamba kumene ntchito pa kampani in a kumzinda wa Blantyre akuti anapezeka atagona pa mitumbira iŵiri ya manda. Anthu atayang’anitsitsa pafupi ndi mayiwo, anapeza kuti panali kathumba momwe munapezeka zinthu monga malezala, singano ndi kabotolo momwe munali magazi. Atamufunsa chomwe amachita kumandako, iye anayankha kuti samadziŵa chomwe amachita ponamizira kuti ataledzera. Anthu ambiri akukhulupirira kuti mayiwo akufuna kukhwimira ntchito imene anayipeza kumene kuti asamuchotse ndiponso akuti akufuna chizimba choti atenthere uvuni ya njerwa zake zomwe akuti akufuna kumangira nyumba ya makono. Mwamuna woyamba wa mayiwo akuti anathawa zochita za ufiti za mayiwo zokhangati zomwezi. Mwamuna amene anakwatiŵa naye mayiwo panopa akuti akumukhwi-mira kuti asamachoke pa khomopo kuti azingosamalira ŵana cholinga choti iye azipanga zofuna zake.

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