MANAD Brief History

The oral account indicates that somewhere in the year 1990 a Swedish researcher came to Malawi from Kenya where she was working. They were looking for the Deaf people who are in groups. Unfortunately, they found none. So they went to Maryview School for the Deaf, but regrettably, they were just school children. While at Maryview School for the Deaf, they were welcomed by the then director, Mr. Khoko, who advised them to inquire about adult Deaf people at Bangwe Weaving Factory.

It was this encounter that engeneered the idea of forming the association among the Deaf.

In December 1990, the deaf grouping received a letter from Kenya. The letter was addressed to the then Director of the Deaf Education in Malawi, Mr. Berio Alumenda Khoko, who recommended that Ms. Fanni Chapita and Mr. Preston Maluwa should go to the attend workshop in Kenya.

Not long after Kenya visit, Mr. Maluwa and Ms. Chipata teamed up with other Deaf individuals to organize and mobilize Deaf people to form visible and effective association. It was in February, 1991. In the same month, the grouping held the first election of the MANAD office bearers. During the election Mr. Maluwa won and was deputized by Ms. Chapita. While Mr. Pamuyu Mbale was secretary.

Throughout 1991, the association was quite lethargic. There were no programmes being carried out. As a result, another election was called in February, 1992. In order to make the association strong and well recognized, Ms. Chapita went around Bangwe Township courting and mobilizing some Deaf adults to join the association. The Chapita’s intentions somehow paid dividends. The members began to raise funds. By that time each member contributed K2.00 to show adherence to the association and feel sense of inclusiveness.

The election of 1991 was confined to Maryview School for the Deaf old pupils. But the year 1992 (during second election) saw every Deaf person given a chance to compete for any position in the association. This election ushered new faces into the MANAD hierarchy. M.r Venancio Wesley became the chairperson and was deputized by Ms. Chapita. A Mr Yona became the secretary while Eric Chiunda was voted as the vice secretary. Msuku was the treasurer and his vice was George Chalera. The other members of the executive were; Violet Katumbu, Samuel Chembe, Joyce Chimwala and a Mr. Kasanjula.

The new committee came with the idea of creating a constitution. First MANAD constitution is a hybrid of the Deaf association constitution from Kenya, Zambia and Uganda.

MANAD was not alone in the process of the developing the constitution. Malawi Council for the Handicapped (MACOHA) provided some technical advice on the project while Maulidi legal firm provided some legal advice on this embryonic paper. The publishing firm belonging to the Catholic missionary brothers, Popular and Publications published 250, seven paged copies of the constitution.

The project was not easy. The first copy, although published, was made in haste. Thus, the association was unable to get the Registrar of Association’s nod. So the constitution was referred back to the association for redress. This took several times until the association became registered on 4 January, 1996. The process took four years for MANAD to become legally recognized as an association.

MANAD became active after the arrival of a Zambian Lady, Mrs Euphrasia Mbewe. She first came in December, 1997. She came with her husband, Paul Mbewe who is a professional Sign Language interpreter. She came under the East and Southern Africa Sign Language Project (ESARSLAP). The project was being funded by Finnish Association of the Deaf (FAD). Mrs. Mbewe was, at that time the project, a coordinator. At the same time the grouping conducted a fundraising big walk. In this activity, they raised K3, 050.00. The money was spent on the Sign Language workshop which was to be conducted in Liwonde in July, 1998.

From this point, the Sign Language which is being used in modern era was introduced to many Deaf people. But before that the use of Signs was already there. However that could be classified as low sign language version where Deaf children at schools did not need to be taught by somebody. They used it among themselves. So this implies that the signs were already there before the arrival of the foreigners.

Soon after awareness training, MANAD opened a secretariat where it operated from. The secretariat was funded by Dutch charity organization, Caritas (MENSEN INNOOD) of the Netherlands through a Zimbabwean consultancy organization called Development Initiative and Services (DIS). The institution sent McLine Mushaka in March, 1998 to conduct workshop on leadership and organizational skill.

The same institution conducted a second one week workshop between 16th and 21st August, 1999. The workshop was held at the MACOHA offices. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss setting up of the offices and how to run them.

The first staff to occupy MANAD secretariat were Jordan Overton Kathumba, who was the coordinator, Christina Maganizo as the accounts clerk and Pauline Beni, the interpreter, who also doubled as a cleaner. Isaac Nyathi of the D.I.S. was in Malawi by then inducting the association staff into the office work.

The association’s constitution has a number of objectives. So the secretariat was insufficient to implement each and every association’s objectives. Some of its objectives were to be implemented by instituted subcommittees. One of the oldest subcommittees are Sign Language committee, fundraising committee, women wing and the interpreters committee and fundraising committee.

Note: this brief history of MANAD is covering period from 1990 to early 2000s.