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Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi versus The Undead
March 13, 2005 4:01 AM   Subscribe

Africa. Lol.
posted by Pretty_Generic (58 comments total)

 
In 1989, I was able to rent a lovely house in Japan, a bit out from the suburbs near a major city, for almost nothing because it was reputed to be haunted. The owner didn't particularly want to rent to a gaijin/foreigner, but he simply couldn't get anyone else to live there.

'Tisn't just Africa, is my point.

Though crazy dictators are not in quite as much profusion there, I admit.
posted by jfwlucy at 4:28 AM on March 13, 2005


Time to build another palace.
posted by caddis at 4:31 AM on March 13, 2005


He's not actually a dictator. Presumably with this maneuver he's going for the "Scooby-Doo"-aficionado vote.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 4:33 AM on March 13, 2005


Malawi is a small nation, not a continent, and doesn't meant "African" in Afr . . . wait, there is no one African language.
posted by raysmj at 4:44 AM on March 13, 2005


/removes mask
"So it was Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Gwanda Chakuamba all along!"

"And I would have got away with it too, if it wasn't for you pesky governmental executives!"
posted by Pretty_Generic at 4:47 AM on March 13, 2005


Well, I've known people who sincerely believe in superstitious nonsense come from places besides Africa. Some of these people have been quite highly-placed, too. Why, I believe a certain Mr. Reagan was very keen on consulting astrologers, for example. I was also going to mention that Tony Blair is Catholic but I don't want to be tiresome, so I won't. Still, I guess my point is: superstitious people. Lol.
posted by Decani at 4:50 AM on March 13, 2005


That sort of thing happens in africa all the time . It seems crazy, and all the foreigners and many educated africans laugh at it, but the majority of people here (i'm in uganda) believe it. A few months ago a security guard across the street from my apartment was given a free pair of shoes that turned out to be talking shoes that turned into a cobra. Apparently.

Then again, aren't there a bunch of people over in educated North America and Europe who are convinced that some dead guy who knows how to walk on water (now that is crazy!) is going to come back from the dead, but until then him and his spirit dad are WATCHING (woohooooo)? LOL!
posted by Kololo at 5:13 AM on March 13, 2005


USA LOL
posted by silence at 5:24 AM on March 13, 2005


Where were these "obscene opulence"-hating ghosts at the Inaugural Ball?
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:34 AM on March 13, 2005


Bush LOL
posted by fleetmouse at 5:34 AM on March 13, 2005


" That sort of thing happens in africa all the time"

Maybe it's because Africans are human?
Ne Win was a distant, reclusive figure, addicted to the more vulgar variants of Buddhism. He was said to have bathed in dolphins' blood to regain his youth and his dedication to numerology was legendary.

Addicted to the power of numbers, he instructed that the national currency, the kyat, should be issued in denominations of 45 and 90 because they were divisible by his lucky number, nine.

But it was his decision to resign on an auspicious day, 8 August 1988 (8.8.88) which was to have the most far-reaching consequences.
Last I heard, General Ne Win wasn't an African. What a stupid generalization.
posted by Goedel at 5:46 AM on March 13, 2005


Metafilter: Kenya Believe It!
posted by Eideteker at 5:49 AM on March 13, 2005


This reminds me of Ben Okri's The Famished Road - Booker Prize winner 1991. The novel manages to weave the spirit world beliefs of many of Nigeria's citizens into the story - a year in the life of a 7 year old boy, growing up in the ghettoes.
A fabulous read and no giant leap of faith is needed to take in the mystical content
posted by peacay at 5:59 AM on March 13, 2005


When's the last time you had a room on the 13th floor?
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 6:09 AM on March 13, 2005


Frankly, PG, I'm appalled that you would choose to make a generalization at the expense of non-white people.

Believing in ghost rats is beautiful and noble and we're the real primitives for laughing at it.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:10 AM on March 13, 2005


Hmm, not a bad idea. Anybody want to help exorcise the White House?
posted by ChrisTN at 6:22 AM on March 13, 2005


Believing in ghost rats is beautiful and noble
wtf? no-one's saying it's beautiful and noble. what agenda are you pushing?
posted by andrew cooke at 6:24 AM on March 13, 2005


I saw the palace from a distance the last time I was in Malawi and it was huge. I just didn't realize it had so many rooms in it.
What I'm wondering is why would anybody need a home with 300 rooms?
posted by Timeless at 6:24 AM on March 13, 2005


well where do you think all the ghosts live?
posted by andrew cooke at 6:27 AM on March 13, 2005


The truth of the matter is that the much maligned voodoo and other such cults and sects in Africa are based on the same universal belief in the supernatural found everywhere in the world."

pretty_generic: Do you really want to be years behind the POPE in your views of the world?
posted by spock at 6:58 AM on March 13, 2005


Doesn't anyone else think that maybe, just maybe, he saw the ghost rats so he could get a bigger house with better AC?
posted by password at 7:05 AM on March 13, 2005


I think he's just angling for a "secure, undisclosed location" a la Cheney. One world leader gets it, all the others have to have one too.
posted by rocketman at 7:27 AM on March 13, 2005


The initial post would have been mildly more interesting, and much less offensive, if it had included, for example, the supernatural beliefs of other world leaders that were so easy for the other people in the thread to find, or some other kind of context.

But, 'Africa. LOL.' seems about the most ignorant possible comment on this news item. Am I missing some MeFi injoke that makes this less mean spirited and more insightful?
posted by KS at 7:37 AM on March 13, 2005


Why is it so obvious that the mansion isn't really haunted?
posted by bingo at 7:41 AM on March 13, 2005


Goedel, i don't really "get" your outrage. Belief in the supernatural and in voodoo/juju do exist in many places in africa, as they do all over the world (as I believe has been pointed out in the second paragraph of my first post and every other post), and I don't believe I made any indication that i believed it is only Africans that hold these sorts of beliefs, or that all africans have these sorts of beliefs, or that none of the people in the rest of the world do too.

And as the specifics of belief in juju are relatively unknown in the countries of origin of many MeFi users, it can be interesting to know that that belief is not necessarily as 'wacky' or 'one-off' as it might seem.

Time to re-enroll in that anger management class, my friend.
posted by Kololo at 7:44 AM on March 13, 2005


.
posted by tommyc at 7:46 AM on March 13, 2005


Kololo, I think Goedel was referring to this.
posted by blacklite at 8:07 AM on March 13, 2005


"Time to re-enroll in that anger management class, my friend."

Talk about a classic case of superstitious belief: so you've got mind-reading powers now? How do you know I'm "angry"? Do us all a favor and take your own advice before dishing it out.
posted by Goedel at 8:09 AM on March 13, 2005


"Belief in the supernatural and in voodoo/juju do exist in many places in africa, as they do all over the world (as I believe has been pointed out in the second paragraph of my first post and every other post), and I don't believe I made any indication that i believed it is only Africans that hold these sorts of beliefs, or that all africans have these sorts of beliefs, or that none of the people in the rest of the world do too. "
Square that with the following statement of yours:
" That sort of thing happens in africa all the time ."
The implications of this are pretty damn clear to me, whatever you insist you intended to say - otherwise, why single out Africa for mention? Besides, since when have you been an expert on all of Africa, to be able to make generalizations about the entire place?

Uganda is just one minute corner of the African continent, not some kind of stand in for the rest of it, and your statements are every bit as silly as those made by people glibly stating how "dry sex" is responsible for AIDS "sweeping" Africa, never mind that what they're really talking about is the Bantu-speaking parts of the continent. If I ever were to engage in silly generalizations of this sort about Europe, Asia or someplace else based purely on my experiences in one small patch, I'd be eminently deserving of any ridicule that came my way.
posted by Goedel at 8:19 AM on March 13, 2005


If I ever were to engage in silly generalizations of this sort about Europe, Asia or someplace else based purely on my experiences in one small patch, I'd be eminently deserving of any ridicule that came my way.

See, I'm pretty sure that original poster was aware of this and was using it for comedic effect. It certainly made me smile. The generalization was funny, and the castigations from indignant liberals was the icing on the cake.

And I hear European chicks have hairy pits.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:37 AM on March 13, 2005


Why is the continent relevant in this story? Am I missing something?
posted by FieldingGoodney at 8:43 AM on March 13, 2005


because that's where it happened?
posted by ba at 8:50 AM on March 13, 2005


Even in one of the most "developed" places in the world -- Hong Kong for examle -- people are quite superstitious about the apartment they choose (i.e. aura, direction it faces, verdict of monks or other specialists..).

I also remember seeing strange men on television when I was young asking people to put their hands to the TV and pray along. Or is that another matter?
posted by pwedza at 8:51 AM on March 13, 2005


what an awful post...
what a fun discussion to watch result from it...
uhoh, i just had a reality tv moment.
posted by es_de_bah at 8:54 AM on March 13, 2005


I also remember seeing strange men on television when I was young asking people to put their hands to the TV and pray along.

Ah, Robert Tilton. (Link launches an annoying sound files.)

Where would have my drunken college late night TV viewing been without you?
posted by Cyrano at 9:11 AM on March 13, 2005


What bingo said. Why is everybody supposing the mansion isn't haunted? I'm not saying it is, just that I have no information to base a decision on.
And the post's wording is very, very dumb.
posted by signal at 9:16 AM on March 13, 2005


"Sometimes the president feels rodents crawling all over his body but when lights are turned on he sees nothing."

vodka to excess does that to a man.
posted by quonsar at 9:33 AM on March 13, 2005


Am I missing some MeFi injoke that makes this less mean spirited and more insightful?

Nope. It was a pretty buttheaded/farkish thing to post. Definitely not best of the web.
posted by 3.2.3 at 9:34 AM on March 13, 2005


Why is the continent relevant in this story? Am I missing something?

ba: because that's where it happened?


I guess "Earth. LOL" is equally appropriate then.
posted by FieldingGoodney at 9:35 AM on March 13, 2005


I expected someone to mention the Lincoln family seances, in which Mary Lincoln talked to her dead son, by now.
posted by NickDouglas at 9:55 AM on March 13, 2005


FieldingGoodney: Absolutely. In fact, that will be the title of my autobiography, assuming I don't visit anywhere else before publication.
posted by ba at 10:10 AM on March 13, 2005


When's the last time you had a room on the 13th floor?

Even in one of the most "developed" places in the world -- Hong Kong for examle -- people are quite superstitious about the apartment they choose (i.e. aura, direction it faces, verdict of monks or other specialists..).

I'm in the UK and every street in the suburban area where I live is missing the house number 13. We know that our number (15) should really be 13 but they skipped over it. I don't know how widespread this is but many door-to-door people I've spoken to are often puzzled at the missing house.
posted by Edame at 10:30 AM on March 13, 2005


vodka to excess does that to a man.

Pshaw. Withholding vodka to excess does that to a man.
posted by trondant at 11:07 AM on March 13, 2005


Hmmm. Not so much the vodka, more the morphine sulphate.
posted by Sparx at 1:12 PM on March 13, 2005


Having regularly partaken in symbolic cannibalism rituals, I hesitate to scoff too readily at anyone else's superstitions.
posted by alumshubby at 1:20 PM on March 13, 2005


P'raps Bingu wa Mutharika has a psychiatric illness or withdrawl from drugs/alcohol or tertiary syphilis - arguably more likely sources of his rodent problems.
He sure looks 'disturbed' in the picture...although if rats were crawling up your body at lights out I suppose that would put you a little off kilter.
posted by peacay at 2:14 PM on March 13, 2005


We know that our number (15) should really be 13 but they skipped over it. I don't know how widespread this is but many door-to-door people I've spoken to are often puzzled at the missing house.

Reason enough to do it, no?
posted by ChrisTN at 2:54 PM on March 13, 2005


Obviously, Pretty_Generic forgot to read this comment on the green.
posted by mistersix at 3:19 PM on March 13, 2005


"Sometimes the president feels rodents crawling all over his body but when lights are turned on he sees nothing."

Sounds like drug-induced hallucinations to me.
posted by sour cream at 5:12 PM on March 13, 2005


internet, lol
posted by Hands of Manos at 9:40 PM on March 13, 2005


sour cream:
Sounds like drug-induced hallucinations to me.

It may depend on a drug or treatment of some kind. It may also be related to any medications he may be taking (which sort of fall into that category), or an illness; Malawi is hardly parasite- and disease-free, and sometimes the prophylaxes' side effects are as bad as some of the symptoms.

That said, I presume they thought of that explanation. The educated class of Malawians who tend to rise to high positions within the bureaucracy are not what I would consider inordinately superstitious people; they were probably sent to private schools and colleges overseas. If they see credence in the explanation, I'm inclined to think there's something to it.

It may also, however, be that "haunting" is an explanation designed specifically for public consumption within Malawi. Saying "The President has terrible hallucinations and is either sick or suffering the side effects of drugs" may be much less palatable to the public than saying "we think it's haunted," taking recognition of a public acceptance of the role of spirits and the supernatural in daily life. It all depends on the habitus of the masses. Of course, I have no substantiation for this (not being a specialist on anything north of the Limpopo), but I'll just float it as a big honkin' armchair maybe.

Uh, not that politicians would ever bend the truth, of course. Cough.
posted by trigonometry at 2:42 AM on March 14, 2005


I'm surprised no one has pointed the most obvious explanation to all of this. The Hon'ble President simply has a case of sleep paralysis or, at worst, mild psychosis, which if it is, is treatable, among other things, with this wonder drug called Seroquel.
posted by the cydonian at 3:04 AM on March 14, 2005


password: Doesn't anyone else think that maybe, just maybe, he saw the ghost rats so he could get a bigger house with better AC?

from the article: With its 300 air-conditioned rooms, the palace is set in 555 hectares (1,332 acres) of land outside the capital.
posted by sophist at 3:46 AM on March 14, 2005


I recently had occasion to visit a major US hospital (one of the largest in the country), which had a room 665 and 667, but no room 666. Just sayin'.

USA. LOL.
posted by plep at 7:45 AM on March 14, 2005


USA. LOL.

"North America, LOL," would be a more appropriate continental equivalence.
posted by iamck at 8:21 AM on March 14, 2005


blacklite:
Educated
stupid humans have not
the rationale to understand
4-corner metamorphosis.

You are stupid and evil and
do not know you are stupid
and evil.

Gene Ray
http://www.timecube.com
...

Oh shit!
posted by Baby_Balrog at 8:22 AM on March 14, 2005


Trash Oooga Booga journalism at it's worst. If media editors would get their heads out of their asses they might realize that the "west" can read intelligent stories about Africa instead of crap like this.
posted by hummus at 8:49 AM on March 14, 2005


"soph·ist Pronunciation Key (sfst)
n.
One skilled in elaborate and devious argumentation.
A scholar or thinker."

Ya think? !
posted by peacay at 5:49 PM on March 14, 2005


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