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On July 30, 2018, the International School Network visited the embassy of Malawi to interview the Ambassador, His Excellency Mr. Grenenger K. M. Banda.  

Cultural Values (Warm heart of Africa) + Preserving traditions-kokoro

The Ambassador had stated that Malawi being known as the “ Warm Heart of Africa” comes from the people who visit the country, especially the British who were ruling Malawi until 1964. Some of the cultural values that the people of Malawi share is welcoming, kind, polite, and peace-loving. The people are taught to treat others by how they want to be treated in which is how they have adopted such traits. There is even a term in the Chichewa language to describe this habit. H.E. Mr. Banda told us that the way the people of Malawi act and behave towards others is deeply rooted from where humanism comes from.  

With Malawi having 13 languages including English and Chichewa, their main traditional language, the traditions are preserved by spreading the culture and values of the various ethnic groups. The Ambassador himself sends his childrens to stay with their relatives living in other villages during long holidays. He wanted them to learn about the world outside their own village without being conserved within a single culture. He would also occasionally bring his children to observe funerals and graveyards to teach them about death. H.E. Mr. Banda explained that he believes the best way to maintain cultures is through first hand experiences and being exposed to things we would not usually be able to see in our daily lives.


Japan and Malawi relations

Malawi and Japan have had a long relationship which goes way back to 1965. Japan was one of the very first countries to recognize Malawi’s independence from Great Britain in 1964, and in 1965, they started a bilateral relationship. Since then, both countries have had a beneficial socio-economic relationship for 53 years based on mutual support . According to H. E. Mr. Banda, in 1791, the Japanese emperor himself has sent 1793 volunteers to Malawi where experts in engineering, medicine, technology, etc. has helped the people of Malawi by sharing their knowledge in various fields. The Malawian people received hands-on training, and they were able to use their skills to improve  infrastructures in their own villages. Additionally, Japanese volunteers have helped build an international airport in Malawi. It is currently under reconstruction and by the time it will finish in January 2019, it is said to be one of the most modern airports in Africa. Japan has also helped construct buildings for primary schools, which greatly contributed to the improvement of resources for education. 


In terms of the economy, H. E. Mr. Banda believes that Malawi has plenty of natural resources with the potential for national growth. If the country receives some aid in machinery and technology from Japan, they will be able to build an efficient industry from scratch. Instead of relying on large companies to control a tremendous portion of the nation, he has hope for small scale companies to help kick start the Malawian economy. He aims to sustainably maintain its rich natural resources and create jobs by implementing employment systems to help industrialize the country. Japan has the technology and the resources in skills, so both countries may benefit from this economic development of Malawi. As an ambassador, one of his highest aims are to improve the relationship of Malawi and Japan, and he hopes that both countries will continue this positive friendship in both social and economic aspects.


Education -Madoka

Education in Malawi is similar to that of the Japanese in the aspect of years of schooling. H.E. Mr. Banda counted that Malawian primary schools teach students for 8 years, high school for 4 years, and then university for another 4, while the Japanese system teaches primary for 6, secondary for 6, and university for 4. This makes the educational system in both countries add up to 18 years in total.


H.E. Mr. Banda noted that while under the British rule until 1964, only few children were able to obtain official education due to the lack of facilities. There were very few primary schools, and the primary school nearest to H.E. Mr. Banda’s home village had been 10 miles away from his house. H.E. Mr. Banda explained that he had been fortunate that he was able to stay at his uncle’s house, which was closer to the school, despite enrolling in the educational system 3 years late. He studied very hard in his student years and enrolled in a technical college and then later, after working in his field, enrolled in university. H.E. Mr. Banda explained that at the time, there was only one university in Malawi, of which only 300 students enrolled. Because of the few facilities for education, many of the children with ambitions and aspirations faced a harsh reality of the lack of opportunities. Despite such difficulties, H.E. Mr. Banda had worked hard and achieved his passion for working in forestry before working in politics. Now, Malawi has many public and private facilities ot education, and families with money are able to send their children outside of the country as well to gain a sound education. 


H.E. Mr. Banda’s passion for working as the Ambassador of Malawi is that he is able proud to represent his country. He first took the diplomatic mission as a challenge, yet because he is a political diplomat who knows what and how the Malawian government works, he is able to serve his job as a great messenger between the Malawian and Japanese government. His goals as an ambassador is to maintain the already existing relation between Malawi and Japan that started in 1965, and improve it at any given chance. 


Forestry has always been a focus of study and ambition during H.E. Mr. Banda’s career. As a Christian, he believes that God created humans to look after the earth and the environment, and that forestry is directly related to such duty as a human being. H.E. Mr. Banda explained to us that contributions to society are intertwined across different sectors. The trees that are saved and planted in forestry are not only friendly to the environment but are also contributing to other fields of the economy, as products made from wood such as paper and furniture are used and appreciated by everyone. He explained that any work that helps mankind is also helping God to maintain goodwill and a harmonious environment.

Malawi as a Developing Country -Madoka

Japan and Malawi are very different countries in terms of economic structure. H.E. Mr. Banda commented that Malawi is considered by many to be one of the poorest countries of the world while Japan one of the richest. He noted that at the time of independence in 1964, Malawi had to start developing from “zero”, because of the neglect by the colonizers in the aspect of industrial development. H.E. Mr. Banda stated that during the 70 years of colonization, only about 100 miles of roads were paved in Malawi, whereas in the last 54 years upon gaining independence, the nation has paved more than 3000 kilometers of roads, achieved with the aid of various countries including Japan. When H.E. Mr. Banda first came to Japan, he had to acknowledge that Malawi was a developing nation and learn from Japan how its industries operate. 

At this stage, H.E. Mr. Banda proposes that Malawi is in need of more small to medium enterprises that can produce secondary goods from the rich raw materials that Malawi is home to. He hopes that through conferences such as TICAD, small scale industries can be encouraged to develop in Malawi. He hopes that this can help Malawi no longer to rely on imports for secondary products, and save the country money to be used for development such as in infrastructure and schooling facilities. For instance, H.E. Mr. Banda explained that Malawi produces an abundance of fruits on different altitudes, but due to the lack of processing factories in Malawi, much of the fruit has been going to waste. Products that are made from processing fruit, such as juices, are imported from neighboring countries despite Malawi’s potential to produce them themselves.



Message to Students- Kokoro

The Ambassador left a message with us towards Japanese students for us to work and study hard to strive to our best in what we want to achieve. From being a father of five in which all have obtained a master's degree or expected to earn the degree, he hopes for everyone to definitely graduate from university which opens the doors for more opportunities in the future. Upon graduating, H.E. Mr. Banda wants us to do something for the society. Whether it is working for the government or taking over a family business, he believes that Japan needs the support from the younger generation to maintain the economy. While our parents’ generation is very industrious and hard working, we must do the same in order to pass on the transferring of knowledge, skills, and technology. The Ambassador also mentioned the need for more people having interest in labor intensive jobs like in construction. Such jobs that require the labor of young, strong people, will not last long if people from our generation do not take over. Similarly, family businesses as well need to be maintained through the transferring of culture and skills down the family tree. He stated that all jobs lead to working for our society. For example, teachers teach students life-long values that stay with them forever. These values will definitely show when they become adults and start working. Children who learn to share will grow up into warm hearted people who care able to help out businesses or other countries in need. Therefore, we do not only need people to be directly working for the government as officials but also those who raise people who become important people for the country. H.E. Mr. Banda mentioned that with the many opportunities we are given in this generation compared to his time when there was only one public university, we must study hard and use our knowledge and experiences to follow our dreams.

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