Congratulations to the children of Bambino School – Tamandani Mgoli Mwale, Jacqueline Hara, Pemphero Phiri and Malumbo Luhanga – for their fabulous performance at the launch of the Malawi Parliamentary Conservation Caucus. Theirs was the opening act! Also thanks to the hard work of the teachers, Andrew Mkolongo and Peter Dzinkambani.
The ceremony was held at Parliament Buildings on 3rd August 2015 and was presided over by His Excellency, Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika, State President of Malawi. They worked together with the Lilongwe Wildlife Trust team (who sat on the organising committee for the MPCC launch) to develop a monologue which outlined a bleak future if action wasn’t taken to protect Malawi’s natural heritage. We chose Bambino School because of their previous commitment to wildlife issues and campaigning, and because of their commitment as Friends of Lilongwe Wildlife Centre.
So impressed was the audience that they have been invited to record the monologue for both radio and TV for future broadcast. Here is the monologue for your reading pleasure, and a few photos from the ceremony. Once we have the TV and radio broadcasts we shall share them with you.
My name is Tamandani, I am 9 years old and todays date is 3rd August 2049 and I hail from Kasungu.
Sometimes I sit with my grandfather and listen to his stories of times gone by and the Malawi he used to know, and some of his tales…eeee you would not believe!
He tells me Malawi’s biggest lake used to be full of fish swimming around. Apparently in the year 2000 there used to be so much fish that people used to be able to eat big juicy fish for dinner and were even able to sell the extra to make money! But now because the government did not have the money to protect it and the people overfished the lake and did not think of tomorrow, now there are just tiny fish left and the fishermen often come home with empty nets.
He tells me that Malawi used to have a season of rain that would nurture the soils. He says that these soils were so fertile that 90% of the country’s money was made from what people grew. But now, instead of the steady rains we get flash floods that our land cannot handle, that drown our crops and destroy our homes and even kill people. I lost my sister in the floods of 2047.
My Grandfather tells me there were so many trees that they used to make entire forests and in 2015 over a quarter of Malawi was covered in them! But because there were so many people, these forests were chopped down to clear the land for the people to live, or use for fuelwood to make fire, the government could not control the people because they did not have the resources. Back then, not enough trees were planted, and those that were planted were not looked after and they died. Now you can only find trees in graveyards.
He tells me there used to be a river that flowed into Lilongwe through the Dzalanyama forest and supplied the whole city with fresh water to drink! But now, because the forest has been chopped down for firewood and charcoal there is no river. It silted up long ago and now we have no clean water to drink.
He tells me that the forests in Malawi were home to many many animals! He used to see monkeys in the trees, antelopes, and even zebras with their stripes and something called porcupines which were covered with spikes. But, even though it was illegal to eat wild animals, because people did not respect the law, and because there were no forests left for the animals to live in, you will not see any living in the wild now.
He even says there used to be animals called elephants that were as tall as a house and weighed as much as 80 people! He showed me a picture in a book, they looked so strange, with long trunks and giant tusks that came out of their faces! And that in 2015 Malawi had 1,500 of these elephants and people would flock from all over the world to see them, bringing in money to our country and providing lots of jobs. But because the rangers didn’t have guns to protect them, and because people didn’t care enough to stop illegal wildlife trade then the poachers killed all the elephants to sell their tusks to foreign lands. Now all that is left of them are carvings and bracelets. I think the elephants were much more beautiful.
My Grandfather tells me he used to work in a lodge in Kasungu National Park which had thousands of visitors a year and he was paid enough to support our whole family! But now, no tourists want to come to Malawi as there is no wildlife, and all the lodges had to close down and now there is no work for him.
My Grandfather’s stories always make me feel sad. I wish I could have seen Malawi in his day when it was full of forests and wildlife and opportunities.
My name is Jaqueline, I am 9 years old and todays date is 3rd August 2015. Today, our President is making a pledge to His country to NOT allow the future I’ve just heard become a reality. I want to see tourists continue to flock to Malawi to see our amazing wildlife, where our lands remain fertile and our forests remain intact. Where we’ve regenerated our biodiversity and have understood the value it has for our country.
The future is in our hands, which future will you commit to?