Vilombo rise up, watching soldiers insulting my culture, like possessed demons, the soldiers mock my ancestors. They know nothing about culture, they are blinded by years and years of westernisation.
I wipe my eyes to test my conscious. I am not in a self-induced coma to relieve my pain of seeing vilombo being attacked. I am not dreaming because what I am reading is the truth – soldiers beating vilombo in Lilongwe. But how can one beat up the spirits? It is war against culture, war against Gulewankulu which is the foundation of Chewa way of life.
An early Christian missionary tried to fight my culture but he never succeeded. He ordered that everyone who wanted to taste education should abandon their masks first; trading one's culture for knowledge that an early missionary deemed superior.
He brought his Bible, my people appreciated the word of God but disagreed when the Chris¬tian missionary declared that Gulewamkulu was barbaric therefore it was not compatible with the teachings of the Bible.
Yet my people have always prayed to Chiuta. Hundreds of years before the Christian mis¬sionary set his foot on our land, my people were already praying to Chiuta for rain or mercy when epidemics raged. My people never sought a scientific explanation on the forma¬tion of rain, all my people knew was that rain was sent by God.
Most of Africa has suffered from Westernisa¬tion that will soon lead to the extinction of what we have truly owned for hundreds of years. I may ask, have I ever heard that an African travelled to Europe just to teach them how to live?
Their culture is the best and ours in barbaric; oh, my culture, oh my backward people, uncivilised they are referred to whenever they defend their culture, my way of life.
But Unesco recognises that the diverse cultures of the world make this world beautiful.
In 2001, it was proclaimed that there was need to preserve intangible cultural heritage and protect such "cultures and the local people who sustain these forms of cultural expres¬sions." In 2005, Gulewamkulu was classified as one of the 90 Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
That recognition alone would not preserve what the Chewa truly own, what Malawians own. It is usually passed from one generation to an¬other but the influences of the West will create a gap and someday we will have nothing to preserve.
I wonder what will happen if children read in the newspaper that sol¬diers beat up vilombo. The children will ask: "If indeed our culture is important, if vilombo are indeed an important aspect of the Chewa way of life, why did the soldiers beat up vilombo?"
The values of our culture cannot be substituted with anything else. The West have tried to create their masks but they do not have a story to accompany such masks. The sto¬ries attached to Gulewamkulu dates back to 17th century.
It was out of orderfor soldiers in Lilongwe to disgrace my culture. Disregard for our culture is a result of years and years of indoctrination of Western values.
I have heard several times parents boasting that their children are azungu that is why they do not speak any local language. Some parents are proud of their children because they can express themselves in English but they lack vocabulary of either Chewa or Yao.
What is there to be proud of if one claims to be Chewa but they know nothing about vilombo? We will be a sick nation if we cannot tell stories of our ancestors. I will protest again someday if vilombo are disrespected in public, the soldiers' act in Lilongwe was disgraceful. I call that "War Against Culture