Monday, August 31, 2009

Of marriage age

Today for the first time in several weeks I bought The Nation, Malawi’s main newspaper. As I was leafing through it an article about legal age for marriage in Malawi caught my eye.

The article talks about the decision of the Malawi Parliament to adjust the legal marriage age from 15 to 16. In some villages it is reported that some girls are given in marriage at the age of 14. It states that the girls of such an early age need to be given a chance to complete their education. “The girl-child just like any other child has the right to education and by allowing her to get married at 16, the commission smothered the universal right.”

I completely agree with the article. Although education is important, there are other more pressing issues the government needs to address. How can a girl of 14, 15, or 16 give birth to a healthy baby? She is almost a child herself. I feel that her chance to be a care-free teenager has been taken away from her.

The author of this article is Ananiya Alick Ponje- a second year student at Chancellor College in Malawi and was printed in The Nation on August 31, 2009.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I beg your pardon?!

When one travels to another country one seems to use this question phrase a lot, especially if there’s a big language difference.

Malawi is one of those countries. One of the main languages here is Chichewa, also known as Chinyanja. It belongs to the Bantu family of languages that are spoken in this part of Africa. In this family, the consonants “R” and “L” are interchangeable. When I came to Malawi I became Ilina and my husband, Mark, is known as Maliki. From this we get jewels like “I want to cut glass” and “Let us play God.”

One of the funniest examples I have ever heard came from a missionary in Zambia. One day he and some other visitors from the States decided to visit a local Church. At the end of the worship the preacher got up and told them how happy the people were to have these guests. He said “And to show you our warm Zambian welcome let us crap (clap) three times!”

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Remembering Rwanda

Genocide. What does this word make you think about? The reason I picked this topic for one this week’s posts is because a member of Namikango Mission staff just came back from Rwanda and was able to see some of the horrors genocide left behind in that country. Although this genocide happened in 1994 its echo is still heard in the pictures of thousands of bones belonging to the members of the Tutsi tribe. They were slaughtered by members of the Hutu tribe. Neighbors killed neighbors even though they had lived many years in the same neighborhood. In one case one man killed his wife’s whole family. In the picture you can see above, a little boy is holding the picture of his murdered family.
The people of Rwanda have moved on and opened several museums so that the younger generation would not forget what happened. Those pictures are so heartbreaking but what is more heartbreaking is that the same thing is going on in Darfur right now! People are being killed it what has been called a genocide and the ones that suffer the most are women and children. And the world looks on….
If you would like to learn more go to

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Healthy snack

Hungry? Why not pull over on the side of the road and buy yourself a freshly caught mice kebab on the side of the road for about $.13 per mouse!

One of the ways young boys can earn a little extra cash is to catch field mice and sell them on the side of the road. Mice are usually sold in the dry season when people burn off the grass. Children wait on the other side of the fire and catch mice that are trying to escape the fire.

I want to include in this blog my little practical joke I played on my unsuspecting visitors using these scrumptious kebabs. Last Wednesday two girls from Scotland and an older lady from the States arrived to Malawi. On the way home from the airport I told them that I had to stop and buy one local tasty treat for supper. When I pulled over at the designated spot about five little boys came running to the car. They pressed their little critters right up the windows so we could pick the mice we wanted. The girls in the back started screaming and an older lady just kept repeating “Are you serious?!” It was the best practical joke I have ever played!!!

But it is not always safe to buy them on the side of the road. In some cases mice were poisoned by rat poison and sold to the unsuspecting travelers. So please, beware when you stop for this hearty snack.

Bon apetit! They taste just like chicken!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Hi. My name is Irina Thiesen and this is my first ever blog so let's hope it will work :-)