An interview with Ras Chikomeni’s mother

The pairing of Ras Chikomeni and his mother Nyness Kayange as president and running mate is a wonder to some sectors.

However, many more would want to know who she is, her role and her reasons for choosing to get involved in active politics.

Nyness with son Ras Chikomeni Chirwa and supporters at Comesa in Blantyre

In a telephone interview, she gives an insight to the beginning of her political involvements and decisions she has taken, thus far.

Nyness says she started politics a while back and that during Kamuzu Banda’s era; she belonged to the Civil Servants Cultural Dancing Troupe.

And that she worked with Mama Cecilia Kadzamira in the Chitukuko cha Amai M’Malawi (Ccam), travelling everywhere with her.

She says she learnt more from how Kadzamira handled guests and issues, adding she was keen and observant.

“Even during the referendum, I was in the forefront, supporting Chakufwa Chihana. I was nearly arrested with my husband,” she says.

Nyness is 67 years old.

Aske how she ended up being Chikomeni’s running mate, she says they only talked about issues happening in Malawi from which their interest sparked.

“He said he would stand as president. The next thing I saw was he obtained papers and informed me I was his running mate. He is my son, so I could only support him,” she says.

But that was not the only reason;

“Women in our society face rape, most cases are never really solved, the police only confront the rapist at that one time he has been reported and they don’t move forward. Such cases die a natural death,” Nyness explains.

She adds: “We have violence in our families and as women, we have a spirit of forgiveness, but men don’t. Hospitals that need to be better are just as violent to women.

“Doctors and nurses have the educational qualifications, but some lack the human aspect, as women deliver on their own and even face rape itself. Women are suffering and I will not just stand by.”

She illustrates more by exemplifying the north where she says women cannot own land, widows suffer the most and children too, especially if they are too young to fend for themselves.

“I am on a mission to end women suffering and to get every girl child to school. I and my president, when in government, will prioritise education,” says Nyness with passion.

Mourning art and craft, (woodwork, sawing and cooking)- a dying aspect of education she says are important for today’s generations do not know.

She stands against going to tailors when a button comes off.

Nyness also mourns a culture that is dying, referring to cultural dances.

Her wish, if voted into power, is to rescuscitate the dancing culture by working with groups of women.

“We want to bring back umunthu (humanity) and empower Malawi economically, so everyone has money in their pockets through farming and apprenticeship,” she says.

On her confidence to go to Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to deliver nomination papers despite not having the finances, she blames the commission for “lack of civic education.”

 “They did not inform us of the time and period. If we knew, we would have done it on time. Our supporters in the districts had no idea,” she explains.

Of her relentless support for Chikomeni, she says though a child maybe more intelligent, they need parents’ guidance to achieve what they want.

“I have to be the one that helps him. I can’t trust another person,” she says.

Currently an artist, Nyness has been in a band since her secondary school days.

She played the drum and currently belongs to Nyerere Dancing Troupe.

Nyness went to Mary Mount Girls Secondary School. She proceeded to Lilongwe Teachers Training College (TTC) where she got her T2 certificate.

However, she did not become a teacher. Soon after completing, she applied for a post in the accounting services at Capital Hill in accounting services. She has worked with several government offices, including,  the Ministry of Works and Agriculture, where she retired in veterinary work.

She asks women to be strong; “don’t look down on yourself, we will stand and with God’s power we can.”

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