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Maula prison in Lilongwe

 

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Marist Brothers spend Christmas afternoon in prison

19/01/2012: Malawi

A few weeks ago Br. Dostie was contacted by the Catholic leaders at Maula prison in Lilongwe. They expressed the wish to organise a football competition to be played internally with the final on Christmas Day. They requested a token sponsorship and eventually a cup if at all possible. The community agreed to support the project and the cup is now known as “The Marist Brothers Cup”.

On a glorious sunny Christmas afternoon,  Brothers Joe Walton, Mario Colussi and Dostie took their seat on the grand stand and witnessed a lively game with hundreds of noisy supporters. Cell Number 8 had reached the final versus Cell Number 5. The first half was goalless, but soon afterwards the scores were level at one all. In the dying seconds, Cell Number 8 scrambled a goal to emerge as winners 2-1.

The competition was greatly appreciated by the authorities and the public. Since the event came about at the initiative of the Catholic Leaders, the cup will be competed for again to coincide with the next great feast of the Church, Easter in April 2012.

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The Motofotofo Queen Takes Over

During a commentary on the gospel, I invited the Catholic Community to share their gifts with one another as Mary did by visiting her cousin. I was far from suspecting that an answer to my suggestion would come so soon. After the communion service, a middle age man came to me and offered to make a lectern for our prayer centre. Trained at the Kungoni Art Centre, he requested a set of chisels, a log from a soft wood tree and a few other minor items. Chisels were purchased, a log was found on the pile of the kitchen firewood and the artist went to work in the school area.  
The artist was left entirely free; there was no guidance or suggestions on the part of anybody as to what the lectern should look like. He had noticed the rickety lectern being used during the prayer services and he decided he could do something to improve the situation. He drew a sketch on the log and the chisels went to work under his agile hands. In no time, we could notice the outline of a person. After a few days the imagination of the artist became a reality. Have a look at the photograph of the masterpiece and try to discover the message the artist has tried to convey.

Arrested for unspecified felony, more often than none, the degrading experience of having one’s hands in chains, in front of loved ones, is an indelible mark on the memory of the inmates. The greatest desire in most of the inmates is to regain the freedom that was taken away from them. Here the artist has expressed that desire by the broken chain, granting freedom once again. Not many individuals wish to be subjected again to this enslaving experience. The freed prisoner that has become part of the lectern will stand near the altar of sacrifice while the Book of Words on its head will remind everyone of the saying: “Listen to my Word and I will make you FREE”. We are proud of the fact that this lectern is a gift from one of the inmates on remand.

The lectern was meant to be used for the first time on 1st January 2012. On that occasion, Fr. A. Kapinga, Parish Priest at Maula Cathedral was to celebrate Mass for the catholic community and also baptise five catechumens who had completed their instructions under the guidance of the Catholic leaders. Unfortunately, the event had to be postponed due to the late opening of the cells by the guards. Moreover, the church services came into conflict with the visit of the reigning Queen of Miss Motofotofo of Malawi and her cohort.

The Motofotofo True African Queen of Malawi is chosen at a beauty pageant for the big and fluffy women. According to the lady organiser, true African beauty is in plump and big figured ladies. Although HIV has reduced many to skin and bones, there are still plenty of aspiring queens around. I did not stay for the event, but when I left the precinct I wondered how the guards would keep ±2,000 mouth-watering inmates in check during the show.

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