Analysis of “Same-Sex Couple Stir Fears in Malawi of a ‘Gay Agenda’ Promoted by the West”

In an article in the world section from the New York Times, Barry Bearak reports on homosexuality in Malawi. The couple Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza are in jail because they were displaying “gross indecency” at their engagement party. The Nation caught hold of the story as homosexuality leads to a sentence of 5 to 14 years. The couple had the option to bail out, but decided against it for their own protection.

I chose this article because it was in the world section, and it was about globalization and homosexuality in Malawi. I felt that the lead could have been more powerful. Maybe if Bearak used the impactful fact of a sentence of 5 to 14 years or a better scene setter than ” Tiwonge Chimbalanga looked like a man but said he was a woman.” The story deserves a better lead, but the writer does better in the nut graf and in the following sections.

Bearak could have even started with this paragraph:

“Of late, anti-homosexual sentiment has been intensifying in several African nations. A law proposed in Uganda would order a life sentence — and even death — for homosexuals. In Gambia, the president demanded that gay people leave the country, threatening them with beheading. The Senegalese penal code calls for one to five years in prison for homosexual behavior.”

Or this sentence:

“Gay men and lesbians hide in more than a closet: they secret themselves in a vault.”

Monjeza and Chimbalanga were arrested for "indecency." Photo attributed to Eldson Chagara

Sexuality in Malawi is taboo, and some people cannot even begin to understand or visualize what a homosexual couple means. This article is informative and emotional and I enjoyed the article overall, but it really needed to develop a lead and nutgraf to catch the reader. If I had come by this article with no other inclination but to read the first couple of lines to see if I was interested, I would have left the page. It just didn’t grab my attention at all, but the article was nicely written.

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