Today marked one year since the violent protests that rocked Malawi on July 20th, 2011. dadakim has commentary on the healing process, as well as on the fresh unrest over the removal of vendors in Lilongwe. She also links to her blog post from that day last year, which was one of the best sources at the time for learning what was going on. I still get chills reading it. For context, I had literally just left the country after my project last summer – I think I flew out on the 18th, and the first protests were on the 19th. There had been protests all summer, and I had even watched a few up close and followed them through town here in Zomba. Then, just after I left, everything exploded into violence. I was caught totally by surprise, and it felt completely surreal. Of all the low points of Mutharika’s administation, it was probably the worst, surpassed only by the near constitutional crisis that followed his death.
Today, I didn’t even realize that this was the anniversary until I saw it in the paper – in an insert, not on the front page. A sign of the drastic change here since April – and of progress, maybe. But 20 people died a year ago, for no defensible reason, and it seems strange to ignore that.