And the king said to the Cushite, “Is the young man Absalom safe?”  2 Samuel 18:32

Malawi News Agency this week reported of the gruesome murder of a 39-year-old Sandless Nyirenda allegedly by a Vwaza Game Reserve ranger. The allegations state that Sandless met his fate when he and friends went to fish at Lake Kazuni which is within the Reserve. He was shot on the leg and latter stabbed on his neck.

According to witnesses, Sandless was left in the water and was found dead by the villagers who had embarked on a search for his after he had been missing for several days.

The deceased hailed from Mataukira Village in the area of Traditional Authority (TA) Mpherembe in Mzimba District. This is the sixth person killed by the rangers in the last two years.

However, the National Parks and Wildlife Regional Manager for the North, Peter Wadi acknowledged that the deceased was found in the reserve but MANA reports that he dismissed the claims that the rangers were responsible for the death of the poacher.

There is a major problem in this case. Whose life is more important, animals, whom the game rangers protect, or human beings. While it is appreciated that the rangers have a duty to protect the wild life in the reserve, that protection does not supersede the lives of human beings.

We herein call for an apology from the Parks and Wild Life for the loss of this young life, they are accountable for his death.

I must also turn to the death of a historical figure, whose name is only known in passing to many Malawians. This is William Jervis Livingstone (1865–1915) who according to historical records gleaned from Wikipedia, was the manager of the Magomero Estate in Nyasaland that was owned by A L Bruce Estates. Livingstone killed along with his assistant Duncan MacCormick in 1915 during the John Chilembwe uprising that waged against colonial rule

The villagers in Magomero killed Livingstone in front of his wife Kitty, her children Nyasa and Alastair (only 6 months old), due to labor disputes (known in the local language as Thangata). After killing him, they beheaded him and took his head to Chilembwe.

Wikipedia reports that on Sunday 24 January 2015, Reverend John Chilembwe conducted a service at Mbomwe church next to a pole impaling Livingstone’s head.

This is an urgent and overdue request that the Malawi Government make amends and apologize to the family of William Jarvis Livingstone. Numerous speeches made by former Malawi leader Dr. Kamuzu Banda, informed the nation of Livingstone’s cruelty to the local people of Magomero and the estate he was manager. The call to apology, comes in the wake of the act of the villager decapitating Livingstone after killing him; the call comes after the Reverend Chilembwe to church and preaches standing next to Livingstone’s head.

As a nation we must take responsibility and own up to the wisdom of the celebration the Reverend John Chilembwe, who was a Christian, a man of God, who preached a sermon next to the head of a murdered person. As a nation, Malawi must re-examine that one act, where a punishment beyond the grave appears to be what Chilembwe did. We are all culpable.

Chilembwe did many heroic deeds, and he is to be commended. This is not in question; however, questions must arise of this one event: the January 24 service and the props Chilembwe used, Livingstone’s head.

 

Remember the Commandments Moses brought down from Mount Sinai; the sixth one said You shall not kill.

 

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