Episode 3

Published on:

2nd Aug 2023

Yonah and Amy part 2

The second half of a conversation about decolonisation with Dr Yonah Matembe and Amy Blake from the Challenges group (formerly Chief Executive of Classrooms for Malawi.) They discuss Neocolonialism, Afro Colonialism and decolonising ones own self first. An introduction to a huge topic that we hope to explore further in the series.

This episode includes the song Tiye Kwathu by Mtameni Kachusa who works for the Malawi Scotland partnership.





Here's a starting list of decolonisation resources and articles list (please let us know what to add)

Reading University Decolonise the Curriculum Resource

Decolonising the University of Bristol blog

MMU decolonising the curriculum toolkit

Tackling Racism is Hard blog


My Grandmother'd Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem (2021)

Living While Black by Candice Carty Williams (2021)

Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire. London: Two Roads. By Akala (2018)

Me and White Supremacy. London: Quercus by Saad, L.F. (2020).

‘Why I Am No Longer Talking to White People About Race’ by Reni Eddo- (2017)


A United Kingdom

Daryl Davis’ Ted Talk

The Color of Fear by Lee Mun Wah,

‘Black and British: A Forgotten History’ David Olusaoga (iPlayer)

The Ants and the Grasshopper

Provokative photography collage Art:




Hello and welcome to the People to People Podcast.


I'm Hazel


and I'm Chimzy and we're here to bring you the second part of our conversation with Youa and Amy.


Have you seen our Instagram messages Chimzy? There's one from our listener, Ellen.


What's Ellen saying?


So Ellen says, hi, Chimzy and Hazel. Thank you very much for the podcast. I really enjoyed listening to the last episode on decolonization. To me, it feels like being anti-colonial is like a moral philosophy that extends to how we treat our planet and the organisms on it, most of whom have even less of a voice. Looking forward to the next part of this episode, Ellen.


Oh, fantastic. That's nice. It's nice, isn't it? Yeah, I like it when people send in. Messages. Me too.


It helps make it a conversation, which is really what we're all about. We're all about conversation, listening to each other, aren't we?


Well, she can listen to part two.

So in part one, [:


So I went to look it up and of course the place that I looked, the English Cambridge dictionary, right? And I thought, hmm, there it is. The system that frames everything, the lens through which we view the world, which is an old establishment thing, and it probably has embedded racism, does it? Is the dictionary itself racist? I don't know, but I also don't know what else to use. And I did a bit of research and I found that there is an African American, there are some African Americans writing an African American English dictionary, which is interesting.

With all that in mind, would you like to do the quiz? Right. Okay. Diaspora.


ould have read this before I [:


No, it's a quiz.

Uh, so like I know I'm part of the Malawi diaspora here in Scotland. Um, so is it a group of people from an original country in another country? So it's apparently a group of people who spread from one original country to another country, or the act of spreading this way.


Do you want to give me a word?

Okay. I feel like there was a word that he used. Epistemological.


Yeah. And epistemic justice was something he used as well. Yeah. He used quite a, quite, quite a lot of words in there that that's why we're doing the quiz. Right. So epistemic is how we know things. Is that right?


dy of how we know things. So [:


Like justice about how we know things?


Yeah. Right. So, according to Google, it relates to the sharing of knowledge or knowing something.

And is not about abusing this.


Right. Got that. Anti-colonialism?


The thing is like, I know, I know I know these words and how they're used, but I just dunno how to define them so I'll read it. Opposed to or directed against the system in which one country controls another.

Neo- colonialism: political control by a rich country Poor country that should be independent and free.


Did you just think of that Chimzy or did you read that?


Uh, I'll give you one more. [:


So decolonization. If a country is being colonized, it's the process that of that colonization going away. So the country is taking back control of themselves and the country who colonize them is being removed.


It is, yeah. Uh, would you like me to read out the definition? If you'd like to? So decolonization is the process in which a country that was. Previously, a colony controlled by another country becomes politically independent, which is the process of getting rid of colonies. Uh, this process can include things like changing the curriculum, uh, in a way that considers the culture beliefs behind it.

bout political control, it's [:


Okay. Which was new to me as well. It means strong and powerful and therefore able to control others relating to the idea that a country's like this. And I think you and I in a previous episode said in a domineering way, which is another way of describing it, I guess. Okay. So I will put this all on our Instagram for anyone who is interested in the definitions.

orking with Challenges Group.[:


nd, Malawi Partnerships since:

Has that accelerated the whole conversation and what was the conversation before Black Lives Matter movement and what is that like now?


I'm glad you asked that question. One of the tensions in Scotland at least, is between the diaspora and the Scotland partnership. So if the Scotland Malawi partnership is between two peoples, the Scotts and Malawians, and guess what, you have Malawians living in Scotland too.

because they exist, they're [:

But completely, almost forgetting that the Malawians are here too. And, and why is that important? Why is that of value? It's valuable because if decolonization or if the partners, for example, is to find itself into a space that invites all, not only the ones in Malawi, that invites the ones that are here. Now, I'm not saying that the Scotland Malawi Partnership hasn't done, it has done a lot. It has done a lot to engage, done a lot to encourage, done many things. But like in any relationship, you always keep on trying. You always try to improve. There's no finality like in a marriage. You always have to find ways all the time in, you know, finding new ways of reengaging, new ways of doing to make sure that all of them are on board.

ions about people to people. [:

So one thing I want to say quickly about decolonisation is this goes beyond including Africans or including people of colour in in board meetings and so on and so forth. I see this quite a lot, so that's why I'm mentioning it. The fact that you have two people or two black people from Africa in some board or committee doesn't make the organization a decolonised one, unfortunately, actually makes it worse.

nisation, and that's where I [:

For it to happen, it has to admit that the structures need changing. Here's the thing. It doesn't mean that displacing one and then in place of it in bringing a new one, then you have the same problem that you're trying to run away from. It's about the equity of space and enjoying the same space together.

That's what I mean. So for me, that's decolonisation. That's anti colonisation, whereby different voices, different experiences, different types of people, cultures and so on and so forth, are working together in this same space and admitting and acknowledging one another that we all exist and all share into this space.


ship. Do you think that will [:


I, yes and no. And I think the yes is because the experiences of Scotland with Malawi, both historically and the present is an example to emulate in a way in the world. The know part is that unless we acknowledge that the structures remain, then nothing will change.

But if we acknowledge to say there are certain structures, what do we mean by structures? Maybe we're using vague terms. What do we mean by structures? We, we mean the things that make things work.


Sometimes it's driven by money as well, isn't it? So a lot of the structures or the way that partnerships or relationships between Scotland and Malawi have developed over time have been because of this imbalance of financial power.

talked about this within the [:

And also they sort of work, in terms of finances, and often with colonisation we're talking about money and growth and the, it is, it's a whole web of kind of topics, which are all interlinked together. But as soon as that part of it is removed and we are talking about an [00:12:00] equal partnership that doesn't, the money side of it actually should never, should never be part of the conversation, and unfortunately it has done.

And so for classrooms from Malawi, in a way the pandemic was a. Blessing in disguise and to some degree because in a way it's completely because travel could no longer take place. It caused for some of the questions that we'd been asking within the organization pre pandemic. It caused for them to come to the surface very, very quickly, and so the organization and similar organizations like that would've had.

look at how the partnerships [:

And the reality is, is the travel aspect of things doesn't have to take place to a degree. You know, those partnerships, if they're peer to peer partnerships, they can be done online. You know, young people. With young people. That's a completely different kind of partnership than the other way round, which could be construed in that white saviour narrative.

A lot of it goes back to what we were saying at the beginning. It's that bravery of that piece of reflection. For an organization for itself, and also for the individuals within it to say, okay, we need to take this moment to stop and really think about what structures are we continuing, you know, and where can we take the steps to then start to address those.

ou need to have X, Y, and Z, [:

Because is that really the need of the community or could those funds be used somehow quite differently? But that better suits that opportunity themselves and will have a wider impact. Yeah, and, and, and I think I, I think the community sourced or local kind of solutions to problems, I think that's quite important.


And, part of the decolonisation process by the way, and listening also to what actually people need in local communities is part of it. But I think I'll add to say that, and I think this is when the problem is. 'cause we need to end this perception to think that, uh, just people from Africa looking at people from Scotland to think that they're bringing all this money, that money is easy to get and so on and so forth.

at are completely different. [:


I see that. So trying to encourage the partnership approach in more depths. So trying to get the partners in Malawi to be proactive in terms of what actually is the need of the community, what are the requirements of the community?

Have the voices being heard in the community and for them to all come forward with. You know what has actually really needed on the ground and. So often the response to that would be what we would want to hear in the global North. And that takes a lot to, to go back and ask again. The easiest thing to do is say, well, actually yes, we've been told by the community that that's what the requirement is. And so that's great because we've ticked the box of partnership because we've done this sort of needs assessment and the community and those on the ground have said that's what's required. But actually it isn't because we've been told what the group think we want to hear, and that's exactly what we're talking about.

we start to break that down. [:

I was going to ask you whether you think that there is a change in younger generations coming through and whether or not you can see this emerging perhaps in the younger age group.


Yeah, that's a good question. I think there's, there's both good news and a facade. The two things going on at the same time, there's a youth, there's there, there's a youthfulness or the youthful facade of what they think they know as best, but also there's a reality that they are changing things or challenging things.

for the better. But in many [:

So Americanization of the youth is to think that what they watch in this American kind of TV and music and so on and so forth, is the reality of the world. When I teach in Africa, sometimes I do teach I go. And my students initially wouldn't believe me and I said to them, what you see is actually a facade.

Say, no, no, no, no. Sir, it can't be a facade. That's how the Americans live. They're rich. You know, I look at them and say, no, no, no. You need to go to Bronx. You need to go to the streets of New York. You need to go the streets in DC and I was in DC a few months ago and people sleeping in the streets. Can you explain it?

seeing in these pictures and [:

What is going on and what we add as what can we do? One of the questions that was asked of me, what should we do then? What about the youth and the youth, the future? I said, yes, they are. We have to prepare the, we must prepare them so that they can go into the future to make the changes that are required, but they need to have the knowledge, the structure they need to have something that fore grounds them, to have the confidence to be able to make the changes that are actually required.

But the youth are an ingredient, are crucial, are important to this whole process of decolonisation. If decolonisation is ever to work it is in these young people to be able to understand the complexity of the world. I'm not sure they're there yet. They might think they are, but I'm not sure they're there yet.


that really stood out to me. [:

So there's the, like the fancy boarding schools, so let's say Kamuzu Academy, uh, you know, and then there's like your local boarding school, which is sort of like the one that I went to. Places like Kamuzu Academy. It's very much like, there's a lot of Western influence in the education system. You do GCSEs, you know, my cousin went to Kamuzu and she did Latin, which I thought was very useless.

You know, I was wondering what sort of curricular you think Malawi should design that is helpful for the local population?


ne else needs decolonisation.[:

It's not a one-way process, but let's talk about the language of instruction in our curriculum. It's English. Now, I'm not saying English is bad. I mean, it's helping us communicate right here, so I can’t say it’s a terrible thing, but it's not the only good thing that should come out of a curriculum. And so there's a lot that needs to be done in Africa when it comes to the question of decolonising the curriculum. A subject, uh, a debate, which in Africa hasn't studied that’s why I'm going back to this white saviour problem and thinking the West is better and all this debate, which of course it isn't, but people believe in it to be. This is where I'm going back to the point we made today. So decolonisation is about decolonising ourselves first. So everyone, you, myself, the committees we live in, in Malawi, even the villagers in Malawi, They've got things that need to be decolonised for them to understand what's going on.

y think, and what makes them [:

Then we can begin to free ourselves from this terrible dilemma we find ourselves in.


Can I make a request for a session on decolonisation around climate change? Because that would be a really interesting conversation, is an extension of what we're talking about here. But then you know the impact of climate change.

Obviously as a wider impact in the global south in terms of how it's affecting people. If you could have that as a session, that would be awesome.


So it's a good place to finish. I really like Amy's suggestion there to have an episode on decolonisation and climate change, and it reminds me of that film that we watched together. Do you remember Chimzy?


nglish and Chichewa, Tambuka [:


The Ants and the Grasshopper it was called, we rented it off YouTube. So I'll put a link in the show notes in case you're interested in seeing that. And we also need your help to make that episode and all the other episodes. So please step forward and point us in the right direction. It's peopletopeoplepod@gmail.com.

We have started collecting resources that people have told us are helpful to decolonising themselves and working our way through them. They're now in our show notes, but it is a collaborative list and we need your help to make it grow. I've had a, we look chim and I've picked something out that I like.

So do you want me to read out? It's a wee bit long, but at the same time it's like the whole thing in five steps. Okay. Go on, give me the five steps. Right. So they use letters and not numbers, so I'll just read it how it's, our approach must be guided by A: an understanding of the historical and ongoing impact of colonialism and coloniality of our disciplines and providing origin stories, which sounds good, right?




g and assessment methods. So [:



C: resisting essentialism, the belief that all individuals of the same ethnic or cultural groups share similar traits.Which is important.




D focusing on individual positionality by analysing social identity, e g, race, sexuality, and locating oneself in the social matrix of power. So that's like me recognizing my privilege as a white, straight, cis woman, which is important. And E acknowledging, critiquing, and changing the influence of systemic racism throughout all power structures.

So what do you think about that?


olonise.” He wasn't mainly [:


I think that's really interesting and it's a really sensitive subject in Scotland as well, so you get multicultural communities, but the schools are using European-centric religious celebrations, like not all of 'em. Lots of schools are bringing in lots of other cultures and it is really exciting


As, as a parent, how do you feel?


I love it when the kids come home from school and they tell me about a religious festival from another faith that I've never heard of. Hmm. Yeah.

To ground all of this with what is actually happening right now.

The next episode, which is in a fortnight, we share a conversation we had with Richard and Nohara from Bhubesi Pride Foundation.


We want sports for development, contextualized for the Malawian context, and for the Malawian people, for the Malawian society. We're working together. It's a collaboration. We're learning and sharing from one another.


Please do subscribe to make sure that you do not miss out on that one. Excellent. Right?


We need some music to play us out this week. What have we got Chimzy?


We have some music [:

The People to People Podcast is independently produced by us Chimzy Dory, and Hazel Darwin Clements. We're very grateful to Amy Blake and Dr. Yonah Matemba for their time.[00:26:00]



Thank you so much. We didn't have much time. The issues are too many but.

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About the Podcast

People to People podcast
Exploring the Unique Partnership between Scotland and Malawi
We're exploring International Partnerships by having People to People conversations. As a Scot and a Malawian, we're particularly looking at the friendship between Scotland and Malawi. We chat about climate justice, gender, equality, COVID, privilege, history, farming and the future, oh... and MANGOES! Everyone wants to tell us how good Mangoes taste in Malawi. An important and complicated conversation filled with laughter, respect and warm-hearted love.

How can you have an equal partnership when one country is so rich and the other is so poor? If we recognise our privilege- what happens next? What does Restorative Climate Justice actually mean? Can you really grow all your family needs in a quarter acre? How has the pandemic changed our partnerships? How can friendship help protect the Lillian's Lovebird?

We want to include as many people as possible in the conversation.
Email: peopletopeoplepod@gmail.com

**Hosted and produced by Chimzy Dorey and Hazel Darwin-Clements**
Supported by the Scotland Malawi Partnership.

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