Graduation is a special time of the year for every student. It’s a time to reflect, to celebrate, and to look forward to all that the future holds. The Malawian community in Ireland is on the verge of becoming the most educated ethnic group following their massive graduations in recent years.
First, the community was marred by lots of controversies especially in years between 2010 and 2013 when they were branded as drunkards, destitute and prostitutes. But come years since 2014, the face of the Malawian diaspora in Ireland completely changed. The community has become very resourceful, innovative and competitive following massive graduations every year.
One of the graduates Robert Dakalira, who graduated from Dorset College with a Bachelors degree (Ordinary) in International Business, was one of the happiest people on 5th December, 2018 when his unexpected dream came true at the Croke Park Stadium Multipurpose Hall. Dakalira said, he never expected to see this day coming as he had no hope at all throughout his stay in Ireland. There were tons of precincts on students living in Ireland which were more than enough to exterminate their dreams. The Irish government closed down a number of colleges which were affordable for ethnic groups and eventually rendered it mathematically impractical for college continuity especially to those students who were self-reliant and who couldn’t purvey and afford higher institutions. A few Malawians called it ‘quits’ after imposition of sturdy restrictions and eventually returned home in Malawi, whilst others fought on. The laws of Ireland allow students to work 20 hours a week during college period and 40 hours during college holidays and Dakalira lamented that it wasn’t easy to work 20 hours a week, attend college, pay higher fees and have your bills paid at home and only accredited it to God’s hand and sacrifice throughout the process. It was evident that so many Malawian students denied themselves of social involvement just to focus on their colleges and work. Most Malawian social gatherings dropped off significantly as most key players were busy with their studies and work.
Another Malawian student graduate, Alexuse Kapelekeza had to cut short his Christmas holiday in Malawi and travelled back to Ireland just to appreciate this precious moment he never expected to come to light. Suzanna Khamfula and Chimwemwe Njawala from Dorset College had to bring in their families from Malawi just to witness the day they never expected.
Meanwhile, 2018 has been one of the most successful years for Malawian diaspora in Ireland as a number of the hard working students have graduated from different colleges, courses and levels including Masters Degrees. It is therefore no doubt that in the coming years, this ethnic community will become one of the most competitive and successful groups in Ireland. However, it is noted that since 2014, the community work face has also changed as most students are now getting better jobs to suit their credentials unlike in past years when they couldn’t venture into higher extremes and only settled for hard-hitting and underpaid labour jobs.
Author: Henry Mkumbira Phiri, Institute of Public Administration, Ireland