Stalking the Black Panther debate

Malawi is one big stage for worthless drama and its people are willing actors and actresses.

This is exactly why we spend so much time cartooning over things too small to merit our attention.

It is therefore no wonder that since the initial release of the $200 million film, Black Panther on January 29, 2018, Malawians have found something to lampoon themselves about.

So, last week was another climax of the cartoon series we star in. The social media went wild over a supposed trip some Malawians made to Zambia to watch a screening of this motion picture.

By now you should be wondering what therefore would be the cause for any social media debate if a group that can afford it, sets out to watch a movie across the border.

‘Zautsiru basi, kufuna kungotiyalutsa kuti kuno kulibe malo owonera Cinema, [rubbish, they just want to make us look poor]’ the know-it-alls raged.

‘Osangopanga download n’kuonera pa nyumba bwanji?’ [why can’t people just download the movie and watch it at home]another set of clowns thought theirs was the ultimate idea.

Well, some quarters felt travelling to Zambia to watch a movie, even as engrossing as Black Panther is said to be, is a show of ‘backwardness’ and a miscalculated move that would licence the neighbours to tease us for having no cinema good enough to bring the movie home.

But then, what is there to hide about Malawi’s lack of standards, participation or innovation in cinema?

Haven’t our standards in arts plummeted below the sewers and gutters in the last two decades cinema houses across the country closed?

What happened to them? Did these cinema houses not close because we never patronised them?

So, why the fuss if those that can afford travel to see Black Panther in place as big as the title itself?

Our problem as Malawians is deep-rooted envy. A certain class of people wants to think and act on behalf of others, dictating the pace and length of stride we must all take.

What is the justification of teaching people how to spend their money? That is plain naïve.

If you ask me, watching a movie at a mall behind my house is good, yes. But adding the adventure of a road trip to viewing experience is to double the fun!

The list of reasons why a cinema culture is failing in Malawi is long and includes a philosophy of paralleling fun and its associated cost to building a house or paying fees for siblings.

‘Nsambi zenizeni; mpaka kukaonera filimu ku Zambia m’malo molipilira abale ako fizi?’ [this is absurd; going all the way to Zambia just to watch a movie?]

This is retrogressive.

For those that can afford to build a house and pay for their cinema experiences at the same time, let them have it. Where they go for their dose of cinema should not be a big deal.

As a country, we are still importing [or travelling abroad for] everything — healthcare, food, clothes, education, literally everything.

The economy could be bad, yes, but there is no law forcing people to suffer in equal terms.

Let those who can travel to meet their needs beyond the country’s horizon do so in peace. n


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