Malawian youths eyeing Umunthu workshops in promoting minority rights

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After being drilled on the ‘Umunthu’ concept of humanity during several workshops that the Art and Global Health Center Africa (AGHCA) organised in the country, some youths have expressed hope that the workshops will help in promoting minority rights in Malawi.

This has been replied during focus group discussions of assessing the impact of Umunthu workshops in the country. Speaking during the discussions, participants acknowledged to have had a positive impact of tolerating people from different groupings after the attending the workshops.

Rodger Phiri

Rodger Phiri: We appreciate the response.

Chawanangwa Muswawayo, a student at Malawi College of Accountancy (MCA) who once attended the workshops, acknowledged to have learnt how to accommodate different people in the society.

“Overall I have learnt more things, how to curb discrimination in the country, for example how to live with people with disabilities, sex workers, in just mentioning some but a few but these workshops have really changed,” said Muswawayo.

During an earlier focus group discussion held at Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN), one participant Esther Lipenga disclosed that the workshops have helped in changing her attitude towards some controversial minority rights.

“I am not the same, I have changed a lot after attending the umunthu workshop, previously I could not associate with some people because of some differences in values, beliefs and lifestyles, even places of origin and all other differences were an issue to me, Umunthu workshop has taught me that we are first humans before anything else, what unites us as a people is far much greater than the little differences that divides or differentiates us that becomes issues that makes us discriminate against each other. I would like to live an Umunthu way of life and apply my Umunthu in my profession as a medical practitioner,” said Lipenga.

The Umunthu workshops alumni has since called for inclusiveness of policymakers, government officials, politicians, business captains, the police, and healthcare workers in the workshops that are to come.

Umunthu Programs manager Rodger Phiri said he is happy with the positive impact the workshops have had on participants.

“Remarkable progress has been registered now that we are conducting impact assessment surveys and focus groups discussion some months after engaging the students and other select community leaders in the Umunthu workshops. Most students are showing complete turnaround of their negative attitudes and hostility towards minorities in their campuses and communities” said Phiri.

AGHCA foster creative leadership and implement innovative arts-based, health-oriented programs that inspire and mobilize. Center programs use collaboration to nurture healthy, empowered, open and active communities in Malawi.

The Umunthu Program utilizes art as a catalyst for discussion, providing a platform to address contentious human rights issues which have implications on health through the lens of “Umunthu.”

Umunthu is a Pan-African philosophical concept of humanity, often defined in the phrase, “I am because we are.”

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