Remember Fred Msiska – the Malawian innovator….well, I have some fantastic news for you! Thanks to the wonderful viral power of the internet in spreading the word, Fred’s story through France 24 news channel got picked up by an Italian newspaper and then an Italian organization and now he is off to Italy in two weeks.
Two months ago a team from Terra Madre came to visit him and invited him to participate in Terra Madre 2010 taking place in Turin, Italy. Terra Madre, the Food Communities Network, is a project of Slow Food, it “brings together those players in the food chain who together support sustainable agriculture, fishing, and breeding with the goal of preserving taste and biodiversity”.
I was with Fred two weeks ago and this is what he had to say about what people in his village originally thought about his inventions and his feelings on going to Italy. (apologies for the video quality, I used my Mom’s digital camera).
“In the beginning, the people [in Nchenanchena Village] would say you are crazy. You are making these useless things that wont help you at this time. You are just wasting time. We are farming tobacco and developing faster but you are following agriculture projects and toys that have no use. But now, we realise, we were wrong in thinking that you were the stupid one, now we know it is us who is stupid and you are the smart one. This is what people in Nchenachena Extension Planning Area are saying.”
“I am very happy to be going to Italy because in Italy, we will meet people from all over the world and share knowledge and experience on improving our countries. I will give my friends knowledge that will help improve all our countries as well as how to make Malawi better, because of this I am very happy. To add to this, it will very very much expand the knowledge and creativity that I already have so that when I come back to Malawi, I can teach everyone in Malawi the skills and things that I learn.”