One masked gulewamkulu dancer was seriously injured when soldiers from the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) descended on gulewamkulu dancers and severely assaulted them near the Kamuzu Barracks in Lilongwe on Sunday.
Both MDF and Chewa Heritage Foundation confirmed the incident yesterday, saying they have agreed to establish the cause of the fracas through dialogue.
MDF Spokesperson Francis Kakhuta Banda said in an interview yesterday evening that the gulewamkulu provoked the soldiers who in turn reacted and roughed them up.
“The problem is that whenever Gulewamkulu have different activities, they tend to threaten and beat up people and incidentally over the weekend they assaulted some soldiers who then reacted,” Kakhuta Banda said.
CHEFO Chairperson former Vice President Justin Malewezi said the incident happened when some Gulewamkulu escorted some women to a maize mill inside the barracks as their cultural practice demands.
“There is a maize mill inside the barracks which authorities there have made access to surrounding communities. Women went there to mill some maize and were accompanied by gulewamkulu in preparation of a Chewa ceremony,” Malewezi explained.
He further explained that since there is a graveyard just before the gate to the barracks, the gulewamkulu did not go inside the barracks but instead stopped at the graveyard.
Malewezi said a wife of a soldier who passed by the graveyard called her husband complaining that she had been harassed by the Gulewamkulu.
He said in reaction the soldiers came out of the barracks and assaulted the Gulewamkulu.
“The good thing is that the Gulewamkulu did not go inside, because had they done that, it would have been provocation,” said Malewezi, who added that the fracas ensued because some of the young soldiers were just overzealous.
He said at the moment they have sought an audience with the MDF authority so that they can establish what actually happened and resolve the matter amicably.
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