Recent events have, yet again, shined a light on institutional racism and a lack of progress made towards overcoming established, unequal power structures. We stand in solidarity with the action taking place in the US, the UK, and elsewhere which demands justice and equal rights for people of colour.
Given the scope of The Mlambe Project, and the development context in which we work, this statement is an acknowledgement of the historical roots of racism that have created inequitable systems globally. The exploitation of people and natural resources in the Global South is deeply rooted in colonial expansion; though historically rooted, traits of colonialism remain visible in the context in which we work in to this day. The development industry has, in many ways, recast these historical power structures in new, more nuanced forms such as the creation of economic dependency or the consistent use of colonial languages (English, French) within the development space.
We are deeply aware of the baggage being a UK-based NGO working in Malawi carries (even with writing this piece in English when it would be better served in Chichewa). The inherent power structures borne out of the historical processes described above are impossible to avoid. However, we hope that an awareness of the context in which we work goes some way to fighting these structures. We truly value inclusive and endogenously-driven development led by the people who will live in these spaces long after we have left. We view this as the true essence of sustainability, success defined by having impact and this impact lasting beyond our hands-on in-country involvement. Our work has always been underpinned by our approach to stand against traditional aid structures which serve to continue the thread of racism through formalised means. We will continue to stand against these structures, ensuring the people closest to the schools we build have a stake in our decision-making, agenda setting and management processes.
We acknowledge that we can be better at instilling much of this in our everyday practice and we commit to doing more, with this continuing down a path towards re-thinking exactly what development means, who it is for and who it is practised by.
In short, we stand against racism.
For more anti-racism resources, we welcome you to explore this.
Saalim Koomar (Chair of Trustees) on behalf of The Mlambe Project team