BBC Reporter in Malawi Prison over “Rodent Ghosts” Story

This is a funny story turning weird: yesterday I chuckled, when I read the report that the president of Malawi, Bingu wa Mutharika, had abandoned his 300-room residence because he was worried about “rodent ghosts” haunting the place. These things happen; many Africans are very worried about supernatural phenomena. Ancestral spirits are an integral part of life in many African cultures. Imagining the president of Malawi fretting over “rodent ghosts” is funny in a very African way.

Now, the BBC reports that the reporter who filed the story has been arrested:

The journalists, including BBC reporter Raphael Tenthani, have been charged with publishing false news likely to cause public alarm and fear.

Mr Mutharika angrily denied the reports and suggested they were part of a feud with his predecessor, Bakili Muluzi.

On Tuesday, 25 journalists staged a protest to support their colleagues.

They delivered food to Mr Tenthani, Reuters reporter Mabvuto Banda and the personal assistant to the vice president, Horace Nyaka. Mr Tenthani, who also writes for the AP news agency, says he is standing by his story.

Clearly, they are harassing the reporters over an embarrassing story. But coming down hard on the reporters just makes it worse, because now the story is all over the place.

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