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Enifa Saladi is an extra ordinary young woman with a blossoming future. Born and raised in the rural outskirts of Traditional Authority Malemia in Malawi’s old capital, she has no sound education, not even a junior secondary school qualification.

Only that she can speak, read and write. The 28 year old, short, dark-complexioned and slender form-two drop out however has a skill which leaves tongues wagging in her community.

Enifa is a sort of a broadcaster. Not one whose voice will echo and register recognition from national airwaves. Nonetheless her work has brought illumination and understanding of democracy and the value of ‘power to the people’ in her community, in a way scholars and the academia can only envy.

As a monitor of Machinjiri radio listening club, in TA Malemia, Enifa is well trained in radio production as well as in governance issues. Development Communication Trust (DCT) offered this training as part of the Liu Lathu Mwananchi project.
The Liu Lathu project injected a new enthusiasm to Enifa that her work in community mobilization took a new twist after understanding the Mwananchi programme’s aims.

“We were oppressed. We did not know what to do in order to access development and we didn’t even know where development money comes from,” explains Enifa.

“Now we know all about this development. We know that elected officials use our money which they flash as if it is their own and that they have to account for that,” adds Enifa.

She adds that all this knowledge has come when DCT trained all three radio listening clubs in TA Malemia. They have been told that as local people they are supposed to decide what sort of development projects should be in the area. In the past she says the role of local people was just to attend and listen to development meetings.

She says in the past local people, especially women were expected to clap hands and dance at many meetings. But that is not happening in the area.

“We speak out at any meeting when we notice something is wrong,” says Enifa. She adds saying that voices of the ordinary people are now not only heard through local meetings but on community and national radio stations as well.

“Now we work with Village Development Committees and chiefs. They invite us during village consultative meetings where people express their visions or problems. Of course we train them to speak openly and to tell the truth.

We record the meetings and at a later date present the tape recordings at a meeting with district assembly officials to address what people at VDC meeting have raised,” explains Enifa.
As the material gets broadcast on Joy radio, people’s concerns, visions and problems in TA Malemia area are now heard in all his six group village headmen, Zomba district and the entire country.

This she says has open up many minds in the area. Even those who doubted the initiative are free to express themselves. “We do not fear anyone. We can go the district without fearing than in the past where we were not regarded as valuable people.
Enifa says the Liu Lathu interactions have already yielded positive results, saying authorities starting with chiefs, member of parliament and public officers are involving ordinary people before starting any development project.

Group village headman Mtogolo, one of the six subordinates of T/A Malemia echoes Enifa’s story. He concedes that he too has been freed by Liu Lathu, claiming he now has a good idea what democracy is all about.
“Our leaders who championed democracy hid a lot from us. They said we will have power, but did not open up after voting for them,” explains Mtogolo.

“I guess they just wanted to have money to themselves,” Mtogolo remarks wryly.
Enifa elaborates that through Liu Lathu inspired training the community initiates development projects and follows up where there are delays.

She narrates that in the three areas where there are listening clubs, three teachers houses have been built together with a school block.

She further explains that in Machinjiri’s area people proposed and built an additional house for the nurse and a guardian shelter at the health centre. In Makungula area a teacher’s house and a school block have been built.
As a show of people’s power Enifa says the community take to task those managing a project if something fishy is noted.

“When building a nurse’s house in Group Village Headman Machinjiri’s area, workers at the site were selling cement meant for the house. We went to the contractor told him to stop and fire the workers that he brought with him for the development project as they had proven not to care about the project since they were not from the area.

With most people interested in operations of development projects and following up on their proposals to the assembly, there is a sense of urgency, and commitment of willingness to take more part in development initiatives.
The community has already developed a citizen charter with a vision to transform their community to become a better place with good roads, schools, hospitals and clean sources of water by 2019. The charter is now with the district commissioner’s office, a road map to all interventions in TA Malemia.

Enifa and her colleagues from Machinjiri radio listening club have been given the role to present the citizen charter to the representative of the district commissioner. This is in appreciation of the inspiring way Liu Lathu has changed the people’s mindset in the community.

Her only concern is to have enough bicycles so that she can soldier on spreading the Liu Lathu gospel to three other sectors of TA Malemia where the project has not covered. Her desire is to see the entire community questioning authorities, speaking without fear and choosing their own development projects just like it is happening with the people she has been working with.