What does Tony Blair want from Malawi?

Until recently, Tony Blair had never visited Malawi. Last summer there was a lot of international press coverage on the discovery of oil under Lake Malawi. Since then he’s developed an interest in Malawi’s “governance” and has visited twice in nine months.

He arrives in Malawi today, having successfully shoehorned a couple of staffers from his “Africa Governance Initiative” into high level advisory roles with Joyce Banda’s government.

It’s anyone’s guess why Blair still believes he and his cronies are worth listening to. Presumably for the same reason this inveterate warmonger saw fit to rack up bills of £1 million per year at the American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem while working as a “peace envoy”. (He’s obviously doing a terrific job and no doubt the Middle East will be at peace any time now). Egyptians know him as an astute analyst of international affairs — remember how he pointed out that Mubarak was “immensely courageous and a force for good” in, ahem, February 2011?

One thing Blair is very good at is getting large amounts of cash out of governments (just ask Kazakhstan) by riding the global gravy train for all it’s worth. He’s also good at setting up mystifying financial structures so nobody knows where he’s channeling his money.

It will certainly be a boost for him to be photographed with Joyce Banda, who despite facing a vigorous opposition at home nonetheless has far greater credibility on the international scene than Blair (just last year Desmond Tutu called for Blair to be tried for his crimes at the Hague).

Malawians should protest Blair’s visit and show Joyce Banda that she shouldn’t welcome such a person to Malawi, still less take any advice from him. The man who led the disastrous New Labour project in the UK, as well as waging two catastrophic wars, can have nothing useful to tell Joyce Banda. Malawian readers will understand what I mean when I say that Tony Blair is a stupid man. He will have plenty to say about things like “strengthening capacity” but the only thing Blair has shown a consistent commitment to is exploiting his former office in order to accrue vast personal wealth.

It should be noted that anybody who attempts to arrest Tony Blair during his Malawian safari can receive approximately 1.1 million Kwacha (£2,150), thanks to the Arrest Blair campaign established by British journalist George Monbiot. Here’s a helpful guide to making a citizen’s arrest, and the rules about how to make sure you get the cash.

Malawians like to reflect on their history by observing that they are a peace-loving people. As Tony Blair arrives in the country Malawians should tell him only one thing: Choka!

* Here are a couple of postcards Blair sent home to Cherie of himself offering valuable advice to good-governance-loving African leaders in recent years. How would they ever have managed without him?


Further Reading

A power crisis

Andre De Ruyter, the former CEO of Eskom, has presented himself as a simple hero trying to save South Africa’s struggling power utility against corrupt forces. But this racially charged narrative is ultimately self-serving.

Cinematic universality

Fatou Cissé’s directorial debut meditates on the uncertain fate and importance of Malian cinema amidst the growing dismissiveness towards the humanities across the world.

The meanings of Heath Streak

Zimbabwean cricketing legend Heath Streak’s career mirrors many of the unresolved tensions of race and class in Zimbabwe. Yet few white Zimbabwean sporting figures are able to stir interest and conversation across the nation’s many divides.


After winning Italy’s Serie A with Napoli, Victor Osimhen has cemented his claim to being Africa’s biggest footballing icon. But is the trend of individual stardom good for sports and politics?

The magic man

Chris Blackwell’s long-awaited autobiography shows him as a romantic rogue; a risk taker whose life compass has been an open mind and gift to hear and see slightly into the future.

How to think about colonialism

Contemporary approaches to the legacy of colonialism tend to narrowly emphasize political agency as the solution to Africa’s problems. But agency is configured through historically particular relations of which we are not sole authors.

More than just a flag

South Africa’s apartheid flag has been declared hate speech by a top court. But while courts are important and their judgments matter, racism is a long and internationally entrenched social phenomenon that cannot be undone via judicial processes.

Resistance is a continuous endeavor

For more than 75 years, Palestinians have organized for a liberated future. Today, as resistance against Israeli apartheid intensifies, unity and revolutionary optimism has become the main infrastructure of struggle.

Paradise forgotten

While there is much to mourn about the passing of legendary American singer and actor Harry Belafonte, we should hold a place for his bold statement-album against apartheid South Africa.