Thursday, September 17, 2009

Manganya marching with Malawi Defence Force

By Michael Usi - Deputy Country Director/ADRA Malawi

I will always regard July 24 of this year 2009 as one of my best days of my life in my career as a human rights advocate and an artist because I feel I made an impact on the society in a different way, than usual.

On this day, I was invited to Mzuzu by Moyale Barracks, where they had a function with a theme; "A strong family, a foundation to a strong community," and this started with a march from Kaka Motel to Moyale Barracks, about 20 km.

This function was aimed at strengthening the families of people in Mzuzu, particularly families of the soldiers, the organizers of the function. This came from a background that the HIV/AIDS has not spared the Army, and with a strong family, it would mean a husband and wife remaining faithful to each other, and in the long run being able to avoid contracting the virus that causes AIDS.

This can greatly help the fight against the HIV/AIDS, and that was why I felt duty bound to honor the invitation. They considered inviting me as a human rights advocate and an actor, especially because of my roll in Tikuferanji. They considered that the role of Tikuferanji is also to strengthen the marriages and this matched with their theme.

During the march, Major L.D.G put me as a front man, so I led this match from Kaka Motel to the barracks, the venue where speeches were made.

With my stage title Manganya, the march attracted the youth and the old along the way to the barracks, and the message was loud and clear and spread to the communities that a strong family, is indeed a strong foundation for a strong community.

Most interesting thing was for the soldiers to be the initiators, because soldiers are mostly perceived by some people as those who do not care about their lives, let alone families, but here they were, able to spread the good message among themselves and to the community as a whole.

To me, that's a move in a right direction. Most importantly, the excited community joined the march. On arrival at the barracks, speeches were made and during that function, the soldiers honored me by giving me an opportunity to address them. I asked them to keep playing a role in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Most importantly, they gave me an Army uniform and asked me to continue spreading the message about what soldiers are doing to strengthen the families and communities, and the effort they are putting in to fight HIV/AIDS. I do it on the television.

I wear this uniform during the acting of some of the ADRA Malawi acclaimed "Tikuferanji" TV programs, that I also direct, where we spread the message about HIV/AIDS, including what soldiers are doing about it. I do this with great pride because I have never imagined that soldiers can fully participate in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and I was humbled by their invitation, I did not take it for granted. With the Army band playing, they made my day and I am looking forward to more of that.

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