Charles Malunga – Malawi

Charles Malunga – Malawi

Date: June 30, 2015
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Radio Maria’s National Coordinator Charles Malunga says while raising his two sons and daughters a couple of decades ago, he “made it a point not to have either girls or boys but children.” His neighbours and the community perceived him as an individual “brainwashed”
by western idea of gender equality. Many people during that time believed that women would never be equal to men – gender equality was nothing but a western concept that could not work in Malawian societies. Malunga says many people viewed it as a taboo to see his two sons fetch water and his two daughters do what the community considered men’s tasks, like driving.

The 55 year old holder of a post graduate diploma in Human Rights from Swedish Lundi University says that gender equality is a human rights issue and that it should start at a family level. “If kids are taught at a tender age that women and men are equal and that they must respect other people’s rights, I think the rate of gender based violence could go down in our societies,” says Malunga.

He says that he will never regret raising his children the way he did because they have not only succeeded in life as individuals but as professionals as well. “My children learnt at a tender age that women and men are equal. This motivated my two daughters to work hard in school because they knew that they had equal chances of succeeding in life like their two brothers,” says Malunga, adding that his approach (of raising kids) worked because they all succeeded academically and they now have lucrative jobs in western countries.

With his belief that women and men are equal, Malunga has not only been gender wise as a family person but professionally as well. “Gender is not a conflict between women and men but creating equal opportunities for women and men.” He says this is why he has always encouraged women in all the organisations he has worked for to take up even small leadership and decision making positions, and always aim for the top.

Malunga’s stand on human rights issues is what has kept him in the public domain since the early 1990s. In 1993 whilst working for a government statutory corporation, The National Archives as the Director, he fought for justice for all exiled Malawians who were returning home. This was after Malawi had voted for multiparty democracy as opposed to one party system of government. Before 1992, many Malawians were exiled by the then Malawi Congress Party’s autocratic rule. His stand in ensuring that all Malawian returnees be treated equally and compensated accordingly earned him a space on human rights issues in the county.

In 1998, Malunga joined the Malawi Human Rights Commission as a deputy executive secretary. In 2002, Malunga chaired a commission of inquiry that investigated the death of Malawi Reggae star, Evison Matafle. “Through that commission of inquiry, I created more enemies than friends because I was trying to unearth the truth,” says Malunga.
Evison Matafale was a Malawian Rastafarian whose music rose to popularity in Malawi. He founded and led the popular Reggae band Black Missionaries. Matafale rose to fame and became one of Malawi’s favourite musicians by 2000 through the release of his debut album, Kuyimba 1, in 1999. He was known as “the prophet” in Malawi and was seen as an elder amongst the community of Malawian Rastafarians. He died mysteriously at the age of 32 in police custody on 27 November 2001.

Regarding efforts meant to curb gender based violence in Malawi, Malunga feels there “is a gap,” and this is why GBV prevalence is on the rise in the country. He feels that somehow, gender equality activists and campaigners are trying to “fight the signs and symptoms of the problem as opposed to the cause.”

Malunga thinks that most men who abuse women were brought up with the perception and belief that women are inferior to men. “It all begins with how the family treats their children. In my home village for instance, there is a tendency that I call achimwene bwelani mudzadye [brother the food is ready].” With such treatment, Malunga says boys grow up believing that women are born to serve men and that they deserve to be disciplined whenever they want to be on par with men.

Malunga plans to use his position at Radio Maria Malawi to advance women’s rights. Malunga would like to see to it that the radio adopts the gender policy that has been gathering dust at the station since it was drafted with the assistance of Gender Links two years back. Meanwhile, Malunga has begun resuscitating the gender committee of the radio to oversee all gender related issues that the radio would wish to undertake.


One thought on “Charles Malunga – Malawi”

Elizabeth Chilenje says:

Hi my brother, I just want to know you because your surname is my grandfather’s surname.the reason i want to know you is I don’t know the family of my grandfather unfortunately he passed on

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