The radio is not playing music today. Instead the host is talking to reporters all over Malawi. It is an important day for this little country that remained one of the few in Africa without a somehow violent time in history since independence. People are angry with the goverment and especially with their president. Since weeks petrol is short, often only available on the black market. The fuel comes from Mozambique then, sold for high prices. But this is not the only problem and people want to demonstrate. It is the 20th of July and Malawians stand up in the big towns all over the country for the first time in history, even when the president has forbitten the demonstrations.
We are on our way to Monkey Bay, the port at the south end of Lake Malawi, and while we listen to the reports from the demonstrations, hear how things get more and more tense, the fuel neddle of the minibus is going slowly deeper and deeper into the red area. We stop in a small dusty town to check the black market for fuel, but Peter, the minibus driver is soon giving up. No fuel here anymore, even the black market is sold out today.
Half an hour later, somewhere in the middle of nowhere, the minibus runs out of petrol and we can do nothing else than stopping at the side of the road and wait for another car. Around an hour later we finally find a pickup, already loaded with cargo and lots of people, that could bring us to the next bigger town, Mangochi. While the driver is trying to avoid the potholes and we try to not fall off the car, we hear that there were also demonstrations in Mangochi, but no one has real details.
We reach Mangochi, everything seems to be calm. No sight of any demonstrations or riots. We find another pickup that can bring us to Monkey Bay, jump on it and off we go. Late in the night, after a flat tyre and a cold hour on the back of the pickup, we reach Monkey Bay.
Later that night we hear about the demonstrations gone bad. 17 people lost their lifes that day and Mangochi got on fire right after we left it seems, with many shops burned and clashes between the police and the demonstrators.
Over the next days, the riots go on before calming down after a speech of the president, who threatened everyone with his order to the police to shoot at anyone who is taking part in the illeagal demonstrations. But can you control the anger of your people like that? Very unlikely. The next demonstrations are planned for the 17th of August and when the president is sticking to his plan to fight his people instead of talking with them, it will become a very sad day in the history of Malawi, many people here fear.