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Low-key Christmas for Malawians

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By Mandy Pondani, Tiyese Monjeza & Sam kalimira NATIONAL NEWS

Amid the raging Covid pandemic, whose fourth wave dominated by the Omicron variant is spreading at an unprecedented rate, political leaders and Malawians in general yesterday spent their Christmas with little fanfare.

President Lazarus Chakwera and First lady Monica Chakwera spent the day at Chikoko Bay in Mangochi and banqueted with children to mark the occasion.

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Former president Peter Mutharika also spent the day privately at his retirement home in the same lakeshore district, but said he and his spouse Gertrude had planned to cheer the sick before the surge in Covid cases returned.

In a WhatsApp interview, Mutharika said Christmas is a time to show love to one another including those in need.

“Madame Gertrude and I would have loved to visit the sick in a hospital, but will not due to Covid. We will be in a spiritual mood reflecting on the birth of Jesus Christ, who came to redeem the world and give us hope and salvation,” Mutharika said.

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The former president further said the birth of Jesus, commemorated on Christmas Day, is important to the world and particularly to Malawians who are facing economic hardships, since it offers hope.

Speaker of the National Assembly Catherine Gotani Hara also said Christmas is a good time for reflecting on God’s love for mankind and remembering the less privileged.

“I was in the constituency two days ago bringing Christmas to the people, but I will spend the day privately. This is time to reflect on life and the love of God,” Hara said.

In Zomba, our visit to the central business area and populous Chinamwali and Matawale townships yesterday, noted a drop in the number of people found in the locations when compared with Friday when the city was filled with people shopping ahead of the day.

We further noted that most people entering shops did not put on face masks despite government’s declaration that the act should be observed by everyone in a public place.

There was also less traffic on the roads of the old capital.

Eastern Region Police spokesperson, Joseph Sauka, said law enforcers were deployed in strategic areas to ensure there was maximum security.

“We are impressed with how drivers are adhering to traffic regulations and it is our hope that we will not record a lot of road accidents and crimes in Zomba and the Eastern Region as a whole,” Sauka said.

Meanwhile, at Zomba Central Hospital, Principal Nursing Officer Haniffa Likaka said by 10 in the morning, 10 babies had been successfully delivered at the facility’s maternity wing.

At St Martin Anglican Church, within Cobbe Barracks, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Upper Shire, Brighton Malasa, who was conducting Christmas prayers, urged Christians to nurture a spirit of love “demonstrated by Christ who was sent to save humankind”.

“During his life when he lived amongst people, Jesus advocated for love when he emphasised that all good deeds are worthless if they are not complemented with love of fellow human beings and God,” Malasa said.

For 42-year-old Angella Witika of Traditional Authority Chikowi in the old capital, flying ants caught the previous night yesterday turned to be the needed delicacy on Christmas Day.

“We don’t have money for anything better; so the flying ants together with Nsima will make our day’s meal,” the single mother said.

In Lilongwe, our spot checks discovered that it was generally like any other day with a few people undertaking shopping exercises.

Many of those we talked to said they could not celebrate the day like they used to in the past due to economic challenges.

Elsewhere in Mzuzu, different religious leaders said this year’s celebrations were “unique” because of restrictions put in place to curb the spread of Covid.

Most churches had limited numbers of congregants as they strived to adhere to Covid restrictions.

Northern Region Livingwaters Church Bishop, Stanford Kapanda, said unlike last year, people yesterday showed that they appreciated the importance of adhering to the restrictions while not shunning church services.

A catholic brother at St Joseph Parish, Samuel Mithi, and a church elder at St James CCAP in the city, Boyce Nyirenda, said Churches had planned this year’s Christmas celebrations with the Covid pandemic in mind.

This is the second Christmas for Malawi since the first Covid case was registered in the country in April last year.

 

 

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