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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Welcome Community Technical Colleges: Addressing a 21 Year Gap in Youth Development

I had to graduate at the age of 27 years from a youth activist to a youth worker, to adjust to age. I am not sure what I am supposed to call myself in reference to advocating youth rights in political, social and economic development of Malawi.
Today, 19 March 2015, however brought back emotions we experienced when we fought, not to a greater success of the need to have a structure to formally impart youth skills from community level. With assistance of Unicef, between 1996 to 2001, we tried to set very powerful youth led skills centres like Gemacadet in Rumphi, Focus in Karonga, Cayo in Kawale, Mteso in Nkhatabay, Yased in Area 18, Youth Arm Drop in Centre, Chingale in Zomba and many others in Chikwakwa,  Ntchisi and Nkhotakota. Some suceeded, some failed.
Today, President Peter Mutharika launched the Ngara Community Technical College. After 21 years since the dismantling of the Malawi Young Pioneers, the opening should have marked a greater celebration to those that have worked tirelessly to ensure that a firm, structured and organised skills programme is available for Malawi’s young generation.
May be let’s start from the beginning to make sense of how this initiative is an important milestone to the development, the future and indeed foundation of our social economic development.
Half of Malawi’s population (it used to be 65 percent) is below the age of 30 years. If you put at 35 years you get at least 9 million Malawians, making it one of the most youthful countries in the Sub Saharan Africa.
At least 3 million are enrolled from Primary School to the University level. Until 2000, Malawi had only one public University, and by end of 2014, they had grown to four with the addition of Malawi University of Science and Technology and Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The total intake including parallel programmes could be estimated at around 12,000 maximum.
Then we have Technical Colleges, whose intake according to Labour Minister is at 2,000 annually. The Private Universities and Technical Colleges intake is around 5,000 more. The total spaces combined in Universities, Colleges, Technical and other skills centres can be estimated at 25,000 annual intake. Backstreet Colleges are ripping off many with four intakes annually some with bogus qualifications being offered.
In 2014, According to MANEB, 130 293 Young Malawians sat for examinations. Only 71,486 (54 percent) passed and 44 180 got an MSCE certificate. Of the figures almost 58,000 were females. The figures indicate that almost 60,000 young Malawians failed. Nobody speaks what has become of them.
In the last decade alone, with failure rates as high as 60 percent, one can safely estimate that over 600,000 have gone through the 12 years of basic education without getting out with any formal qualification. If we add the Primary School Leaving Certificate taken after 8 years and the Junior Certificate of Education, putting the figure of 1 million Youth having failed to attain any formal recognition in education would be a conservative estimate.
The next question before we even look at those that have attained a formal qualification whether PSLCE, JCE and MSCE, let’s ask where have the million people gone after failing and dropping from the formal education sector?
Malawi needs to ask the questions like these if we will have a proper policy direction and investment that will deliver the next generation from poverty and make the 100th anniversary of independence an occasion worthwhile.
The 1 million being chunked out every 10 years without any formal qualifications, become vendors, girls rush into early marriages, others go into excessive drinking, and others criminal activities, others even into prostitution. The majority of youth challenges are associated to idleness and lack of opportunities. Very few, especially in rural Malawi have an opportunity to go back to school or learn a lifelong skill.
Back to the MSCE graduates. The Malawi education sector has no real skills transfer in the first 12 years despite out cries and revision of curriculum. Students are asked to sit and pass six subjects, which have no real life giving direction. The curriculum has remained a joke that the same level of education in England or South Africa, a student is already shaped to his future career or life experience. In Malawi you graduate with general knowledge, from all the chapters of the Bible via English literature books to Rain Forests or Monsoon winds, which will not deliver anyone skills required in future life.
Apart from the urgent need to change the curriculum, there is need to reduce the primary school years to standard six and introduce form five for Internationally recognised qualification that could increase competitiveness of our academic basic papers.
Now even the 71,000 that passed 2014 MSCE, we can assume 30,000 were absorbed into the different local and international education opportunities available. The remaining 41,000 armed with general knowledge enter the job market. Many end up in unskilled employment, frustrating their life ambitions to decent work, creating angry population.
If you add the 60,000 that fail the exams and 31,000 that enter the job market each year, we are talking of 90,000 young Malawians between the age of 15 to 23, going home frustrated and without skills that does not augur well.
From 1965 to 1992, those that had no skills and could not access higher education, used to go to Malawi Young Pioneer, the major reason we had no vendors or petty criminals across the cities and towns or major trading centres.
The end of MYP meant all Young people either had to fight for spaces or create own opportunity in a country whose poverty and attitude towards a young person’s idea is already a hindrance to his or her participation, made the things worse.
Despite launching various credit schemes in 1996 and 2005 targeting the Youth, nothing tangible has come out of it, due to politicisation of the loan schemes and more importantly adults who man the Youth Departments of political parties suddenly qualify. There is nothing to write home about Youth Wings of our political parties, the average age of their directors are 40. They do not serve interests of young people, save for stoning those perceived to be political enemies.
The Community Colleges, is what people like Late Ndamyo Mwangomba, Late Dan Maseko, Late Big Billy Chirwa, Late Wales Chitsulo, Late Sarah Mbingwa and many others including Late Ellen Jika, alongside people like Alex Mseka. MacDavies Chiluzi, Kennedy Warren, Lichapa, Kalima, Patrick Chakholoma and Pamela Twea among others fought and wanted to deliver to young people.
The special Committee instituted in 1999 by late Mary Kaphwereza Banda, which was chaired by Linda Lisa Kwabwila, in which yours truly, alongside people like Prince Lwanja and others, the Speakout by Honourable Alekeni Menyani and Fryson Chodzi and the initiatives such Yoneco centres, have all evolved on the concept of transfer of skills.
The Ntonda and Neno Colleges under the Ministry of Youth are a good starting point, but we needed more and we needed a Government policy recognising the urgent need of a community skills centre for young people. The idea of 28 of them is one welcome and grand ambitious plan that needs everybodys support.
Institutions such as World Bank other United Nations Agencies should seize the opportunity and use the community centres as entry point among young people, transfer of skills and empowerment of young females in making life long decisions. Actually there should have been competition to build and sponsor more than 28 Community Colleges as they provide a firm platform and Government commitment to address challenges.
The Industry in Malawi need to adopt each five of the them, Airtel, TNM, Carlsberg, Banks, Tobacco Firms, Manufacturers and all that require specialised skills, should quickly adopt the colleges and help develop skills required. Community Colleges in districts such as Kasungu can provide Tobacco growing skills or modern farming, in Nkhotakota Tourism, Sugar and Rice growing skills, others basic mining while generic community programmes should be embedded including governance, accountability, health such as HIV/Aids and social care.
The Community Technical Colleges offer an opportunity to Civil Society to sponsor and support them in areas of interest from Human Rights to Climate Change. Even funds such as Tilitonse should rush to support the colleges.
I can write and write on the opportunity, the structures the community colleges can provide to governance, social, political and economic development. The skills acquired at a such formal training centre will make lasting contribution to issues everyone has been worried about Malawi.
In the United Kingdom, the majority of the Universities were Technical Colleges, today they have changed the face and skills of the United Kingdom.

With the Community Technical Community Colleges, we should finally be on the path towards first ever long term intervention to our development. We all just need to pitch in, share ideas and support it. Aluta continua!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Death is Life's high meed: Goodbye to my Teacher, My Boss and Mentor: Edward Chitsulo

"Why did I laugh to-night? No voice will tell"-John Keats

Why did I laugh tonight? No voice will tell.
No God, no Demon of severe response,
Deigns to reply from Heaven or from Hell.
Then to my human heart I turn at once.
Heart! Thou and I are here sad and alone;
I say, why did I laugh! 0 mortal pain!
O Darkness! Darkness! ever must I moan,
To question Heaven and Hell and Heart in vain.
Why did I laugh? I know this Being's lease,
My fancy to its utmost blisses spreads;
Yet would I on this very midnight cease,
And the world's gaudy ensigns see in shreds;
Verse, Fame, and Beauty are intense indeed,
But Death intenser--Death is Life's high meed

I rarely write nowadays because primarily of the nature of my work, nobody is supposed to know your opinion, I hope soon or later could live to the promise of three books, one on inside politics (1994-2015), one on media (history and greatest stories) and one on the greatest Malawians to remember. I hope to do that soon or later. For the media, I always thought I will have time to interview Edward Chitsulo, the Managing Editor of Nation Publications, who God recalled to his glory this morning. The wealth of information, experience and indeed skill taken from the Malawian media this morning, is simply unquantifiable. He was the media encyclopaedia. I was privileged to work under him for a good for years, before the "it has pleased letter" to serve your country came. My exit from the media was not that smooth, but as quickly as I learned on the new job, you do not make enemies with the media and you live for the day on all political appointments. Mr. Chitsulo, famous for his Raw Stuff column, interestingly never believed at once that I should continue with the political jobs. He called once in a while and asked if I could come home. Apart from MBC, NPL is my career home having served the company twice (2000-2002) before returning (2008-2012) in between I served MBC during the third term period, went to Ministry of Trade for some months. My second return at NPL I was greeted by Mr. Chitsulo on the telephone as I reported to Lilongwe office, he said "Welcome home, I was told we should expect bombs from you". I laughed and went on to work, it was the same time Malawi was changing it diplomatic ties from Taiwan to China and I went straight into the stories. In 2011 after the July 20 demonstrations and baptism by Malawi Police, he and the company's CEO would call every morning to check how I was doing. He was shocked on July 21, 2011 that I was in Lumbadzi following up on the riots that followed the demonstrations. He asked me to rest, "I think you have given us all the bombs we could ask you for." The paper started the Investigative Desk, I was privileged to be among the founding team. Of course some stories came out and some never did, we fought on the quality of the source, we fought on public interest and some were referred to the legal team who warned us all the time we took to publish. But between what would raise Mabvuto Banda's blood pressure, or the calm Bright Sonani's controlled temper, was that in the end we all had a product we agreed served the best interests. He never asked me to reveal my sources, he joked at "your spying capacity to get stories" but for sure, he protected us many times as his own children. Three stories I would do he would later ask me what would have happened if they were not true....I would say my sources were part of the whole event. In my short 10 year career, I had one law suit from an angry Parliament report which I am not sure how it ended,  two injunctions against my story one I was named exclusively as first defendant, 10 break ins into my house and countless threats. Interestingly none at NPL bureau was a coward that we would scream into the paper of the daily threats we got. Mr Chitsulo was accused of all sorts of things, but the man was brave. Brave in the face of real danger, and hard on the real value of every story. NPL news process are very rigid, not for the weak nor faint hearted, that it is advised to take a break now and then for one to survive, but one thing every morning when he was chasing his next story Edward Chitsulo would call, apologise for the fight and report that the paper run out early because of your story. Personally I would understand the integrity of this man when I accepted a political job, alongside other Editors at NPL, in my new role I saw media from a different angle, he was among the few Media Managers with integrity and the paper stood among those I would be happy to say passed the test. Today many will write about this man from Cholo, who wrote his mind but also found time to teach others like me who never had a chance to get a Journalism degree in the first place. He never made you feel inadequate, he made you fight for your place on front pages. He was a remarkable man, he could spike all the NPL staff stories and put a MANA story as a lead, we would fight and whine, he would tell you, he considered the news value not the name. One story was about the Lilongwe kids clearing human faeces using bare hands. He stood by a news value. There are many stories he stood by a Malawian, pushed the agenda and interests of Malawians forgetting sometimes his ailing health, to me he was a patriot who served his country well. He was a man who taught many, resisted everything and inspired a whole generation of media personalities to believe in the story, dig further and of course defend your story. When I wrote a story of new flags being imported before being passed in Parliament, alongside my brother in profession, our source was very sensitive. The story run, everyone involved jumped and efforts and pressure was applied. We carried an apology based on business interest, he called me to apologise to me and asked me to accept without a sense of betrayal. He said we all know its true, but business sometimes comes first. When I wrote that the flags were flying hours after being passed in parliament, he personally said I will make this a front page big big headline to compensate you for the last one. There many stories, many fights, but looking back then and now, the Editor, my Editor and boss stood by me and was proud of me always. I am proud of this patriotic Malawi and wish he could have lived longer, taught many more. I went into Journalism at the age of 17 with no practical skill and a certificate from Pen Point. Late Jika Nkolokosa and Late Edward Chisambo and Aubrey Mchulu, lectured me all my first six months, asking me tough questions on every story, while Aubrey pointed out on a news story structure all the time. Later in 2008, it was Mr. Chitsulo and Mabvuto Banda who took time to mentor me. Ephraim Kasambo Munthali became another Jika, asking tough questions all the time. Mr. Alfred Ntonga was the silent gladiator, poking holes to a finished product but always made sense at the end of argument. To this patriotic Malawian from Cholo, I say depart well teacher and my boss, greet those that have gone before you, Your name and works will always be remembered!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

You cant be wrong about Malawi

Happy New Year. It is not very late to say that, only first month gone. 2014 was a very long year, as one of those rightly observed, a very trying year. Of course, 2015 has started on the extreme side, we have lost a very good Bishop Zuza, and of course, one of the ever smiling warm persons I came across in politics, Mai Ruth Tembo. With almost all interviews in my career as a Journalist  with JZU at his area 10 residence or Nyambadwe, travelling with him during the 2009 campaigns, I ended up interacting with the mother of the house often. And whenever she was mentioned "Baba" as we call JZU would beam with pride, as speak of her as "my dietitian." For the Bishop, he loved farming, and I am sure he was coming from his farm in Hesyeni, when called recalled him to his home. We met and spoke at length about farming near my farm after Jenda, he thought it was very unusual for someone of this generation to speak of farming the way I do. May their souls, of these two unique persons Rest In Peace.
But you see, you cant go wrong about Malawi. The land where everyone looks happy, smiles and sometimes offer help when one has not asked it. The floods, deviating and horrible as they were, failed to curb the spirit of sharing that we have. The response, locally I mean from locals, has been overwhelming. People have been asking where can they give a bag of maize, some a piece of cloth. The spirit of a Malawian, who knows how to share and give is evident, that in Machinga, some camps have been disbanded after the food aid delayed, and people opted to open their homes and get the victims and share the little with them.
I have listened to the collaboration by Lulu, Lucius Banda, Skeffa and others. You definitely know that Malawi's warmth and friendly spirit is still part of our national heritage. You cant be wrong with Malawi.
Many start a new year with hope, resolutions and new sense of direction, but we have equally seen many young people working and becoming more creative in almost all fields. Young people have stopped complaining or waiting for jobs from institutions, many are trying hard, to make a difference for themselves. The frequency of Malawians travelling for business to Tanzania, Zambia, South Africa, Dubai and China tells a story of a generation that finally is conscious of creating its own destiny.
Of course water and electricity have been a let down, but travelling in many rural areas, solar is slowly replacing the need for light from a service which is inadequate. The trend is that soon, even most urban homes will use renewable energy and institutions that fail to cope up with the changes and demand will be left behind.
Anywhere you drive now, you will see thousands of well tended gardens, full of green maize, tobacco and other crops. The most interesting thing is when someone accuses Malawians of being lazy. How? has been my answer, millions of tonnes of crops are harvested after cultivating using only a hoe and human labour. We have even fed agriculturally advanced neighbours without machinery and you think they are lazy. No pay a fair price, create right market conditions and let the world trade freely then poverty will be really reduced.
Finally, as I wonder in my thoughts why you cant go wrong about Malawi, is the art of story telling. There many wonderful tales, about mysterious nsima on Mulanje mountain, or Chipoka wa woli at Njakwa in Rumphi, the Cattle in Chiweta and the Phoka, or Chingwe Hole on Zomba Plateau, Mwalawanthunzi whistling in Thyolo, Chisapo Cha mbuzi, and many others, nobody has really experienced what you are told or face, but everyone has repeated them. Of course the beautiful ghost of Area 18 round about inclusive.
But 2014, ended on high note with the tale of Beans of Biwi. I heard the story from five people, so the version is an abridged version of the same. The beans were allegedly stolen by a trader and were en-route to the market when they started slapping the theif. The thief dumped them at Biwi, and everyone says there are still there, but everybody had no time to take me to see the thief slapping beans. With so many reported robberies, surely you cant go wrong to hire the thief-slapping-beans from Biwi, at least its a tale that closed 2014 tales.
Of course story telling or nthano is one area you cannot go wrong about my country. A blessed new year to all of you!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Ebola: The moral story in International relations

The World Health Organisation has declared stabilization of Ebola cases in West Africa, specifically in Liberia. The release stated "Case incidence is declining in some districts in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, while steep rises persist in other districts," There are nearly 5,000 reported deaths. The WHO said that more than 4,960 people have died of Ebola, mostly in the three African countries worst-hit by the outbreak. It added that over 13,200 cases of Ebola have been reported in the West African states. What has changed the course of Ebola? The realities that Ebola could spread to the Western World, has seen the most frantic efforts outside terrorism for the World to tackle a health crisis in recent months. Just a month ago, Ebola, seemed like an African problem with each dipping a little something to help the poor Africans to get along. Until the cases were reported in the United States, Spain and now even in Ireland. The cases appeared to have gone all the way to Australia and threatened to collapse the aviation sector which is still trying to find its feet. By 1st September, 2014, Philanthropist Bill Gates had given more than many Western Governments in tackling Ebola. International emergency response organisations such as the Medicines San Frontiers and the Red Cross were reporting crisis level approach to handling of the cases, nobody, paid attention. The month of October reported cases in the Western World has acted as a reactor for the required response from the World self appointed moral leaders. They do preach peace, against nuclear armament, human rights and many other critical issues, whose voice and opinion matters. However Ebola has revealed that moral leadership is what is lacking in tackling global health issues. Perhaps more especially when it affects the poor nations. The hypocrisy of asking poor countries to respect human rights even at the extent of cutting aid, has been glaringly exposed with the Ebola response, allowing the loss of human life, a basic human right just because they are poor, too poor to afford sanitation and getting infected by the Ebola virus. The global response, coming only after the spread of the virus into the West, reminds many of us of the problem of the many killer diseases that the world, especially the moral leaders who scream human rights in the context of personal liberties or political freedoms at the expense of other basic rights such as a right to life, that are yet to be tackled but have been neglected since the essential affect the poorest of the poor, or the bottom billion. Ebola, since it was discovered by Peter Piot, nobody has paid attention to developing treatment or vaccine. Experiments were being conducted at a snails pace that, the only first batch of vaccines are said to be underway and might be only available around mid 2015. The same has been said of why there is no malaria vaccine, one of the number one killers in developing countries. The reason one scientist told me at a health conference, is the cost of research is high and African countries where the problem is endemic cannot afford them. Its a risky business. He said treatment drug research had already recovered most of the costs and it was cheaper and profitable to treat the disease than stop it through vaccine as it would affect the companies that are making a killing from the millions of episodes of malaria that countries like Malawi alone records. Prof. Paul Farmer of Partners In Health was among the sole voices that spoke of the need to treat Extremely Drug Resistant Tuberculosis when it broke in Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa. He said today's world of travel and connectivity is an illusion for anyone to isolate infectious diseases as a problem of one particular geographic location. The reality is that one travel in plane from Durban to New York, as Ebola has demonstrated can become a global health crisis. No problem in this age and era, should be left based on the basis of their financial status, as those with adequate healthcare can easily catch up with similar challenges. To be honest, it is not a question of moral obligation, Africa and much of the poor countries have made a fair contribution to the global development agenda. They have contributed with human life from slave trade to periods of colonization to actual mineral resources. The consequence of poor nations remaining where they are is the ownership of their own resources, poor leadership and the imbalance of trade and many restrictions that the poorest of the poor have to accessing proper and well compensating market and skills. Dealing with health issues, is beyond a moral obligation, it is supposed to be rightly an issue of global politics, just as terrorism or the push for the best deal with Ukraine between the West and the East. The Ebola crisis has proven that with adequate resources and a united approach, any health challenge can be tackled, quickly and effectively. We can all learn lessons from this debacle and perhaps as we set the new development goals for post 2015 start to seriously consider targets to some of the remaining health challenges that can easily be removed from the global health agenda in the next decade also. Ebola has shown us that globalization, means we sink or rise together. No more diseases or issues for the poorest of the poor.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

so far released

here are all cashgate documents

Proper analysis for cashgate

Will be processed by 7 am Malawi time with whoever is involved and what happened. The documents are just too many.

The Cashgate web_ the links between payers, paid and beneficieries

The cashgate web. Down load the link and post in your browser and it will take you to where the web of beneficieries:

The Cashgate Report

Access the names and payments recieved. Some were not able to cash. Copy the link and put it in your browser it will take you to the actual Excel file.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Adios amigo, adios Dennis Atcheya Chirwa- one day we will meet again

Adios amigo, adios my friend
The road we have travelled has come to an end
When two love the same love, one love has to lose
And it's you who she longs for, it's you she will choose 

Adios compadre, what must be must be
Remember to name one muchacho for me 
I ride to the rio where my life i must spend
Adios amigo, adios my friend 

Adios compadre, let us shed no tears
May all your maƱanas bring joy through the years
away from these memories my life i must spend
adios amigo adios my friend.-by Jim Reeves

When we thought we got it right in our life journey, death bites hard and takes away one of our own. We were four, in 2001, Chiletso Shati then having a shop in area 18A, introduced me to a friend, who instantly turned into a brother Aubrey Kalino. Aubrey one day brought along  friend, Denis Chirwa, who would years later follow me into Journalism and become one of the closest sparing critic in everything I did. Limbikani Nzungu Chisi moved to Lilongwe, the boshitia gang was born. Boshitia is a Mozambican hit, nobody but Nzungu can tell its singer, Denis was the pilot of the group, I was the one one sitting in front and Aubrey was the story teller. We traveled all corners of Malawi, we planned all sorts of things. But Denis, among us had one unique character, he would be the most argumentative, more than Nzungu when high, but he will be the peacemaker with everyone.
He never left a friend, even if they had quarreled. He would argue, argue and argue, then remark in his idol Bakili Muluzi's voice "Mumaona Atcheya Amatekeseka" then take a long sip of his carlsberg green, and go on to the dance floor, in his jacket and dance. After his dance, he would order all of us home, that his BCA Hill Jnr should not be left empty.
In the morning, he will be the first up, drive to my place, let himself in and drink anything he found. As if nothing happened, as if there was no argument, if you brought it up he will tell you, "za dzulo Atcheya amwela dzulo, lero ndi tsiku lina". He imparted that bond, that no matter what happened or argued on, you should wake up a different person the next day.
Many knew him for his strong criticism of any Government of Malawi, many wondered if he had lost his head, many wondered why he admired Former President Bakili Muluzi than any other politician. The politician whom we named him after- Denis, became our Atcheya. He became the symbol of boldness amid chaos.
I write far away, wondering what is going on with his spirit. What is happening to this bold brother of mine, all alone, killed like a dog in a foreign land, looking and crying over the spilled blood. The blood now on You Tube, died a painful death. I hope I can provide answers to what he lived for and what he did for the 14 years, we became good friends, workmates and brothers.
We were four, now we are three. May the soul of Atcheya look upon and protect us.
Denis, never wanted to be a journalist. But since 2001, when I was covering local Government elections for the Nation, he offered to drive me around. His daddy, now my Uncle Brigadier Marcel R.D Chirwa, loved his first born son more, he gave him a Toyota Corrola at the age of 17. It would be our feature of transport for fun or work.
We covered the elections, he took my notes, or brought to my attention anything that I had missed. We spoke and argued about parties and when Limbikani Chisi, then an engineer moved to Lilongwe, politics was the main subject, that Aubrey always shouted at us to find better topic.
In 2008, he applied, without any qualification to the Malawi Electoral Commission as a stringer. He was picked, he called me and told me "I will be your driver and you will tell me how you spot news" I took it as a normal project.
We literally travelled wide and far, thats when the fascination with President Bakili Muluzi started. He believed Muluzi presented both politics of the past, but more importantly what he called "human politics."
Every time we covered a presidential rally, Denis would come to MBC area with his MEC badge just to check what President Muluzi was wearing and which jokes he would through. He always thought Dr. Muluzi was a human first and a President later. He bought jackets and wrist watches that matched Muluzi's and spoke and joked about him everyday.
When his father was arrested, he was furious and dared even Police officers who were refusing us entrance to court, he said all these are Brigadiers sons, they will go in and write what this stupidity is all about.
He loved and adored his father. We spoke at length why he never wanted to be a soldier like him, he said my mind I would not be a disciplined soldier. He had company of soldiers whom he called friends.
He loved and adored his mother. He would speak of her hours end. When he lived in Blantyre at Chimwankhunda, he only had one fear- I dont know what would do if my mother died. He feared her, never even wanted to sleep out, but sneak in. I cant face Denis's mother today and not any time soon.
He adored and loved his mother Tamara, they became buddies and more often driving around together. Whilst in Kenya, he told me where they went, what they were doing. A bond so rare.
The he adored his sisters Felistas was his best friend than a Sister, dragging us to see her. We knew Marion and Mtisunge before we met them. Claudia was an angel in Denis words. He would stop everything, even his favourate drink would be second if any of the sisters called, he would walk away at a distance to speak to them. He would come back beaming "Atcheya monga mwini mbumba was being consulted." He planned their weddings, spoke about it and wanted the best out of them.
Then there is Pacharo Marcel, his brother he loved and protected. He admired and openly expressed his emotion. Very rare would Atcheya speak about emotions, even the "First Ladies" at each time, would rarely be a subject of discussion, always ending with I give them enough attention. But Pacharo was his world. When he went into the Army, he spoke everyday about him, he planned his pass-out more than his graduation. Pacharo's return into the military was a triumph for Denis personally, a soldier was in the house. On the pass-out, though I was out of the country, he sent me a picture of himself, the retired brigadier and the young-man, telling me "osaopa" we have conquered. No words can heal the pain his brother will forever fill.
Then there are other two people Malumbo he called My elder brother and fighting partner, they argued fought, but anything happened, he called him first and also Ralph whom he said, "I want to get better and write something about his skills."
Despite his well-to-do status at any point, he gave priority to his friends. The stories are abound about his driver-like attitude at MEC as a stringer in 2004, Democratus where he picked everybody and even at Capital Radio, where he enjoyed radio more than any other place.
If you asked him his dream, he said meeting Atcheya and having a cup of tea, Ooh Yes, we will be two Tcheyas in on room. 
Apart from his criticism to any work you did, he was an advisor to the gang. When I moved to the Office of Vice President, he gave me three months to survive, when I told him I was moving out of the office- he laughed as said "I told you, cant work with politicians, it needs boot looking and pretenders. You cant fit in, come to BCA jnr tizawotche mbuzi." When we gathered at BCA Jnr, he never raised the issue, he said that is gone, forget you worked there, lets find something to do.
He hosted a barbecue when he was about to leave for Kenya, within a short time he had been in Area 25C, everyone around him knew about BCA Jnr and himself as an organiser and his skills.
Politics, he never supported any party- he would tell you the good and bad things about each party and why nobody among the gang should join politics, saying "Ndizabwera mmakwanu kuzakusamutsani mukalowa ndale." He sounded very political on social media, but he never wanted to join anybody. He said it was the easiest way to destruction.
Last Friday we spoke about a death of his closer friend, I called him, he was defiant as usual, we agreed in December we will be in Malawi, we will roast mbuzi which I had run away. After his degree he will come to London and stay and look for post graduate opportunities. We should he said, go back to Balaka and see what we saw that night. We should go back to Salima and dance on top of those boats again. He said we should make sure we record videos of eevrybody dancing. On Saturday, his last day on earth he wrote inbox "You dont like football, Tcheya akunyamuka kukaonela mpira, tilankhulana mawa". The tomorrow that will never come.
I have left out deliberately his amazing part of life- Denis liked reading on human life and freedoms. He read Martin Luther King Jnr. He knew everything about it. He said "the great die young".
He seemed to have prepared for his death. He took photos of all of his family a week ago and put them together on his war. His last profile page.
He took pictures of all of us, his gang at wrong places and times, and in-boxed us. We went berserk that he was keeping the photos, we laughed and joked about those days. Before he died, he found time to remind us the bond we shared, the good times we took for granted. More important he brought us together again.
My family of the Chirwa's, the loss is not bearable. To my brothers of the gang, Tcheya will always linger around, huge and larger than in our past when we thought he will be forever somewhere and we will meet again.
All alone, he was stabbed and killed from behind, nobody could face this courageous from front. He travelled today alone in a box. He said when he died everyone including foreign media will write about him. Tragic as it has been, it has been true to his word.
Perhaps tomorrow I will wake up and understand this bad dream.
Perhaps when I see his grave one day, closure will come.
Perhaps there is a reason his life has been short, his departure brutal
Perhaps he was an angel, who came to teach us something we never knew
Perhaps very soon, we will join him and roast heavenly goat
Everything is in doubt, but I am sure he looks down smiling, wanting us to forget the pain, and live as if nothing happened.
Quoting his hero MARTIN LUTHER KING, Free at Last, Thank God Denis Atcheya is Free at Last.

Adios amigo, adios my friend. You will forever live in our hearts!
The pain of loosing you is eased by knowing that one day we will meet again!