Kachitsa: MBC’s Concubine in Residence Rocks the Nation!

Date: January 1, 1970
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This article deals with a recent ‘sex scandal’ involving a journalist from Malawi’s national broadcaster and her boss, in which a sexually explicit photograph of the journalist was circulated to a daily newspaper and published.

Description of the article
This article deals with a recent ‘sex scandal’ involving a journalist from Malawi’s national broadcaster and her boss, in which a sexually explicit photograph of the journalist was circulated to a daily newspaper and published.
This article may be used to:
  1. discuss the line between freedom of the press and slander;
  2. illustrate how the media feeds common perceptions around women’s roles and behaviour;
  3. develop discussions about privacy and public right; and
  4. talk about challenges faced by professional women. 
Trainer’s notes
This slanderous editorial uses a recent high profile sexual ‘scandal’ to mount a moral assault on women and women’s sexuality. The article persecutes and degrades Dorothy Katchisa, calling her everything from a concubine to a harlot to a “worthless shred of human debris.” It paints her as a sinister, sex-crazed fanatic without any morals.
The basic facts of the scandal are that Katchisa and lover Malopa, who happens to be married, took private nude photos that were purely for personal use. These private photos found their way to a daily newspaper and were published. However, they were never meant for public viewing. The author accuses Katchisa of being a porn star and prostitute, when in fact, all she did was take a few ‘naughty’ photos with her lover – not uncommon in many people’s erotic play.
Not only does the author have no respect for women, he has no respect for privacy. Katchisa’s private life has been dragged all over the newspapers, her reputation probably seriously damaged because her right to privacy was not respected. That a national newspaper would even allow such a slanderous article is a testament to Malawian society’s respect for women, and negative perceptions of women’s sexuality.
Note how the article refers to the men involved in this and other sexual scandals. The author makes reference to another supposed ‘pornographer’ Grey Nkungula, calling him a sexual gladiator. Why is she a ‘harlot’ and ‘prostitute’ while he is a ‘gladiator’? In addition, the other party to this ‘scandal’ Malopa, is hardly mentioned, although he is a married man having an affair. Why does Katchisa have to suffer the spotlight while her ‘partner in crime’ gets off scot free? The article implies that there is no problem with men being sexually ‘kinky’ (or even unfaithful), but when a woman exerts her sexuality (i.e. when she reveals herself to be more than a chaste virgin or submissive wife) she has broken some sort of moral code and deserves to be punished.
This is especially true for high profile or professional women and men. Men’s sexual misadventures are quickly forgotten unless they involve obvious criminal acts, though even that is no guarantee – the Jacob Zuma rape case being a classic example of media and public ‘forgetfulness’. When it comes to professional women, however, a single misstep can mean long-term public denouncement. In this case, the fact that Katchisa is an accomplished journalist is totally sideswiped, and her decision to switch political party alliances is seen as additional proof of some kind of fanaticism rather than a political stand.
The article also attacks other high profile women, specifically Patricia Botomani-Kaliati, the Minister of Information. Kaliati defends Katchisa, and for that she is given the nickname ‘Anthrax’ and is accused of being ‘incurably unhinged’. The credentials of women in leadership positions is constantly under scrutiny, and it appears that the media and society are always on the lookout for a reason to remove them from the public sphere and put them back in the kitchen. Or, as in this case, the bedroom.
In addition, the author shows a very negative attitude towards sexuality in general. He equates pornography and homosexuality with the plague, and calls people who engage in either practice ‘zombies’. There are clear human rights violations here. Although sodomy is technically illegal in Malawi, there is a growing lesbian and gay rights movement that spans the entire African continent. The way the author vilifies sex and sexual expression not only violates a person’s sexual rights, it also contributes to perceptions around sexuality that are dangerous to the health and safety of the lesbian and gay community.
Discussion questions
  1. Why are well-known women scrutinised more closely than well-known men?
  2. Where is the line between freedom of speech and slander? Do you think this article should have been published at all? Does it stir debate or is it simply defamatory? Do you think there are many people who agree with the author’s point of view? Why do you think the editor chose to publish it?
  3. If Malopa was the one photographed by Katchisa, what do you think the media’s response would be? Would it have the same impact? Would people be calling for Malopa’s arrest? Would Katchisa’s reputation still be questioned?
  4. Do you think the public has a right to know what goes on in people’s bedrooms and private lives?
  5. What do the words ‘sex positive’ mean to you? In recent discourse, the idea of promoting sex positive attitudes means respecting people’s sexual preferences as well as increasing communication around sex, discouraging notions of shame around sex and sexual acts, and making space for people to talk openly about sexual desire. It means demystifying sex. Use this article as a starting point for positive dialogue around sexuality. Ask participants to counter the various accusations and negative opinions in the article with discussion that takes a more respectful, human rights based approach to sexuality and sexual expression. 
Training exercise
  1. Look into the editorial policies of some of the major daily newspapers in your country or city. Do they deal with gender issues? What do they say about press freedom? About protecting people’s rights to privacy? Are editorialists able to write whatever they want, or are they required to keep within certain guidelines?
  2. Write a commentary about privacy and respect for sexual expression.
  3. Talk to different journalist around and ask what they think of the article and whether they think it should have been published.

Download : MBC Concubine NyasaTimesSept508 Malawi

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