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Video: Theresa Kachindamoto/Hollywood Insider YouTube Channel
Foreword: This Theresa Kachindamoto article is a part of the Rebrand Africa Initiative which is a joint partnership between Hollywood Insider and philanthropic Humans of our World Foundation. Unlike ‘fake charity marketing’ campaigns carried out by the majority of western media, Africa is a vibrant, beautiful and prosperous continent that is full of talented, ambitious, and innovative people – and Hollywood Insider will continue to showcase the best of the real Africa.
Beyonce’s latest Disney+ album ‘Black is King’ has taken the world by storm, to applause as well as to controversy. While Black is King is being celebrated in reel-life, there is a Black Queen who is proving that Black is Queen in real-life – Theresa Kachindamoto. Nestled along the coast of a lake with the same name, the country of Malawi is an African melting pot of cultures. While the continent has a wealth of customs and traditions not seen in the United States, we often find ourselves outlawing African lifestyles in the US. We have a strong tendency to fear things that are “other” without examining our own culture. That said, both the U.S. and Malawi have social reform issues that need examining, and as the United States appears to crawl where resources are abundant, it seems Malawi leaps in its most populous areas where resources are scarce. Thanks to Theresa Kachindamoto, who is the sitting paramount chief of Malawi’s Dedza District, Malawi moves in a positive direction.
Theresa Kachidamoto – Malawi’s Dedza District is Home to a Revolutionary Leader – A Real Life Queen, Proving that Black is Queen
Kachindamoto notes education as one of her primary concerns, particularly education for young women and girls. In asserting education, she wants to STOP sexual abuse being used as a rite of passage. For one, young girls are considered impure after their first menstruation and they are forced to cleanse through a sexual ritual. Shockingly, the process is a “legal” form of rape, and its purpose is to prepare girls for a young marriage and protect them from HIV/AIDS. There are ways to prevent HIV and AIDS, but rape is certainly not one of them. Parents who can’t afford much use young boys and girls as a bargaining chip, essentially selling them into marriage.
These sexually abusive practices are a no-go for Kachindamoto. Since becoming chief of her district, she’s had 3,500 early marriages terminated despite qualms of sub-chiefs, parents, and even couples. When it comes down to it, child marriage and sexualization of children should be wrong in every nation. Of course, many might look down on African cultures that allow these practices, but I think they would be surprised to know that child marriage is not singularly an African-culture issue. It is NOT just a foreign issue.
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Child Marriage and Child Sexual Abuse is Rampant in the United States, Not Just in Africa.
Kachindamoto takes a bold step for her country, limiting and dissolving child marriages. She steps on many toes unapologetically. What many Americans might overlook is that federal law does not cover marriage age in the United States, and many states have no actual limit to marriage age with consent from parents or other judicial bodies. Most states have a cutoff at 16 with parental consent, but many still make special exceptions. Technically, in ten US states there is no actual age limit on marriage. Often this is due to American culture and attitudes towards sex, pregnancy, and marriage. To add, according to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), in the U.S., Child Protective Services (CPS) “substantiates, or finds evidence for, a claim of child sexual abuse” every nine minutes. Only 7% of child sexual abuse comes from strangers, and the rest comes from family members or acquaintances. That means 93% of children who face sexual abuse already know their abuser.
When we look at Kachindamoto’s goals through the lens of U.S. struggles with childhood marriage and sexual abuse, we can see her as admirable, and the United States should strive for her ideals. We get caught up in “othering” cultures that feel separate from our own, that we fail to see the issues we have yet to overcome for ourselves. Kachindamoto is not just paving a way for the Dezda district, or even just Malawi. She is a global trailblazer, showing us that we need to tackle child abuse without exception. She points to the cultural norms of all countries, where we overlook child marriages and their implications.
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Theresa Kachindamoto’s Promotion of Education is Another Aspiration We Should All Accept.
The Dezda chief speaks strictly about education, and its central importance to society. When she separates a child marriage, it means that the child gets to go to school and receive an education. Not only does she get to see young girls regain control of their own bodies and actions, but she makes sure they are given a brighter future. Educated boys and girls will learn about the HIV epidemic, abuse, and further problems facing the people of their region. Kachindamoto’s attitude toward the education of women and its massive benefits is reverent.
In her words, “If they are educated, they can be and have whatever they want.” Schooling is her foremost concern. If the kids are in school, they can make a brighter future for their country and world.
Of course, we have labor laws and school laws in the United States, but we continually defund our public schools to favor privileged private schools. When we allow people like Betsy DeVos to take the lead and defund the schools for American children, we lose status as the land of opportunity. Kachindamoto reminds us of the importance of a diverse and powerful education. The same principles that won in Brown v. Board of Education are at risk today, and if the United States were to see itself from the outside, we’d fight harder to keep education equal. A good leader leads, but a great leader demonstrates. Great leaders see their own culture as an outsider and recognize what needs to change. Malawi is lucky to have such leadership. It is certainly the type of strength and determination we envy in the United States. We respect you, the true leader Theresa Kachindamoto.
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