MalMost people in the United States had not heard of Malawi until last week when a judge sentenced a couple to the maximum 14 years in prison with hard labor under Malawi’ anti-gay legislation, and crowds jeered the two men as they were driven from the court house to jail Thursday.


The harsh sentence for “unnatural acts” and “gross indecency” had been expected after the same judge convicted Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza earlier this week under laws dating from the colonial era.

Chimbalanga, a 20-year-old hotel janitor, and his unemployed partner were arrested Dec. 27, the day after they celebrated their engagement with a party at the hotel where Chimbalanga worked—an apparent first in Malawi.

Now, we have all heard of Malawi. Congratulations to this nation for getting put on the mental map.

Unfortunately, it is viewed as a backwards and brutal land that is stuck in a time warp. The locals mistakenly believe they are protecting morals. However, they aren’t protecting anything but archaic beliefs, mindless mysticism and superstition disguised as spirituality.

One feels horrible for the poor couple who was caught up in such barbarism. They appear to be good people born in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But, one also must feel bad for a nation trapped in the past that clearly has no future. The saddest part, is to witness the appalling and astounding ignorance. The leaders of this nation think they are acting on behalf of African values. In reality, they are carrying the water for America’s fundamentalists. It is amazing that they have not noticed that the law speaks of “buggery”, clearly not an African word.

It’s all quite tragic, really. Whatever pain this couple suffers in prison will pale in comparison to the suffering of the population of a country governed by such anachronistic laws.