Other Sellers on Amazon
+ Free Shipping
+ Free Shipping
A Democracy of Chameleons: Politics and Culture in the New Malawi (Kachere Books) Paperback – February 1, 2002
The Amazon Book Review
Book recommendations, author interviews, editors' picks, and more. Read it now.
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Frequently bought together
- Lexile Measure : 1390L
- Item Weight : 14.4 ounces
- Paperback : 210 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9171064990
- ISBN-13 : 978-9171064998
- Product Dimensions : 6.69 x 0.44 x 9.61 inches
- Publisher : Nordic Africa Institute (February 1, 2002)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #3,577,368 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top review from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The various chapters cover political, social, and economic issues and are written by a range of political scientists, anthropologists, linguists, a doctor, a theologian and a lawyer, with an afterword by the poet, Jack Mapanje. The various chapters cover the Poverty Alleviation programme, how the civil service and the judiciary are coping with change, hate speech, language associations, religious activism, women's issues and HIV/AIDS. They reflect their authors' particular concerns, but (with the introduction) give a reasonable account of the political and social state of Malawi's Second Republic, with some gaps.
Structural Adjustment has done little to lift Malawi's economy, and it remains one of the world's poorest countries. The programmes to reduce poverty have largely failed because they are poorly targeted and have adversely affected the poor in general and women and HIV/AIDS sufferers in particular. Structural Adjustment has also led to reform of the civil service and, for many civil servants, loss of their jobs or a reduction in status.
Although political parties may change from enemies to partners overnight, as long as they remain enemies they indulge in hate speech, a perversion of freedom of expression which may promote political violence. If politicians cannot or will not challenge injustice and exploitation, this is left to others. One paper claims that, although the Malawian clergy were a source of political comment and dissent in the Banda era, they have rarely been politically active since then, so (as another contributor argues), protest is left to popular music. Another sees ethnic language associations as part of a general revival of ethnic pluralism in reaction to years of promotion of the Chewa language, but one without political objectives.
Perhaps the most thought-provoking article was that on how the changes since 1993 did little to change governmental neglect of HIV/AIDS sufferers. As state hospitals cannot cope with the demand for treatment and private hospitals are out of the financial reach for most, many turn through necessity to "traditional" medicine. The position of women is ambiguous; they are condemned for spreading the AIDS epidemic but regarded as the keepers of tradition. Both situations conflict with the promotion of women's rights.
In summary, this is a fairly good collection of essays that describes a good deal about the political transition in Malawi. In two of the articles, those on hate speech and on popular music, the conclusions do not seem fully supported by the facts presented. Two articles, that on hate speech again and another on the position of women, are written in a gruesome sociological jargon. There are several references to ethnic and regional identities, but little detailed exploration of the role of ethnicity and regionalism in the Malawian political system. Finally, apart from a denunciation of the Tembo/Kadzamira family who were so powerful under Banda, there is little serious discussion of the main Malawian politicians at the time the book was produced. Despite these failings, it is still worth reading, as no other single book covers the same ground.