Fighting for Migodi: All You Need to Know

It has been a few days since people in Limbe, a town in Blantyre, started fighting for Migodi. And most people are unsure what they are fighting for, or how lucrative these “migodi” are. Having tweeted a thread of this issue yesterday, I wanted to share more knowledge on migodi and how they are run across the country.

Most of you have watched Hollywood movies and seen how gangs operate but dismissed the idea of such illegal organizations running in the country. Unfortunately, these illegal organisations do run in Malawi, not hidden from anyone’s sight either. And just the gangs of Hollywood have territories that they operate in, Malawians have chosen to call these migodi.

So, next time you hear “uwu ndi m’godi wa wakuti,” it means that area belongs to that person and is run by them. But how exactly do they work, you might be asking. Before I respond to this, let me explain how you can acquire it.

Acquisition of Migodi

Considering that these are owned territories and one cannot acquire them with money. Well, money does work, but you cannot literally buy a territory. This is how the game works.

One needs to earn respect around the area first, how that respect is earned is up to the person. When one has respect, it is easy to get people to work for them. Amassing a big workforce is needed, more so when you want to have a territory of your own.

Then you fight. Literal fights. Leaders command their boys to fight those working for the migodi owners. Whoever wins then gets to own that territory. Hence the outbreak of fights within Limbe.

Then you fight. Literal fights. Leaders command their boys to fight those working for the migodi owners. Whoever wins then gets to own that territory. Hence the outbreak of fights within Limbe.

Sustaining it

Fine, they have won it, what next? They have to sustain it. The leader appoints supervisors of the area, people to look after the workers during times when they are not there themselves. So, even with callboys at a bus stage, you will notice that they have their own chairman.

There are set rules that one has to abide by to operate on the area. Even those that do not belong to the group are supposed to respect and live by these rules or face the consequences.

However, for callboys specifically, these are put on a tight leash. They are given targets of money they should collect per day, and they always have to make sure to beat that target.

Just like minibuses operate, the money made above the target is theirs to keep.

Small businesses also pay to operate on these premises. The boys you see lingering with buckets of eggs, freezes, drinks etc pay a fee. Minibuses also pay a fee for picking people on that specific stage. And minibuses find it the hardest, because they are required to pay Minibus Association and also pay the callboys. Hence why sometimes minibus fairs go up, these are the costs they account for.

How lucrative are they?

If you knew the money made on these streets, you would wonder why you slave at an 8 – 5 job. Millions of money pass through hands each day, money that is not taxed at all. And it all flows to the pockets of the leaders.

I remember Joy Nathu asking me yesterday about the leaders of Wenela, and my response was “they now wear suits.” Which is true. There are some territories that make the most money in the cities. This is based on the traffic that flows through the stages each day.

There are kingpins or migodi owners who have made so much money and dress so decently that you would not know that that is there daily hussle.

Some territories have the capacity of making close to five hundred thousand or a million per day or week. And only a small fraction of it is shared to the callboys.

Who works for them?

Their usual targets are street kids. Street kids have nothing to lose. They have no one to rely on and are trying to make money to get them a meal. With no education and chance of finding formal work, they turn to what is easy.

However, it is not just street kids, even those that are poverty stricken and want to make money for survival.

Their involvement with Criminal Activities

These are gangs which harbour different people and also partake in criminal activities. They own petty thieves that loom around the town to armed robbers. Do, let me give a brief on this.

Their crime is not just theft, but corruption, harassment and more.

On issues of corruption, leaders of these territories have different connection in different departments within the government. One I know of very well are the city councils. For example, if one was to look at those that have won bids at Blantyre City Council to undertake the management of public toilets across the city, will realize that there are so many gaps unfilled and will question how those contracts were awarded in the first place.

In 2019, people witnessed the danger of such groups. During protests, many people were harassed and beaten. This is due to their political affiliation which gains them immunity from police, thus the law foregone. Which brings me to the point of how politicians have been able to exploit such groups to their advantage. They fund these groups, and gaslight situations.

However, police immunity isn’t there just because of their political affiliation. Just like the Hollywood movies, we too have dirty cops. Those that directly benefit from such syndicates. Some politicians have become co-owners of some migodi within town, and turn a blind eye when unlawful situations occur.

Police know thieves just like thieves know police

There are vendors that are happy with such syndicates existing. A payment to such syndicates gives them protection from operating in markets and are assured of ultimate security. While others operate in fear, unsure of the circumstances that will arise.

For example, a month ago, a friend of mine was fined by a kingpin an amount of K30000 for wearing opposition ligaria, a situation I find absurd.

Writing this, I am reminded of the events of the 28th June 2020, when callboys that support MCP fought callyboys that support DPP while tryimg to claim migodi. And this leaves a bad taste, because not only is this continuing based on the ruling party, it will never stop. There will never be an equal opportunity offered unless you belong to a certain party.

However, it is time that authorities worked to make sure such syndicates are abolished. But I am also quick to note that they will never be abolished completely if no employment opportunities are open for such youth.

And while there is more to uncover, I wanted to offer this as a groundbreaking so that we can have such conversations and work on the future of the country collectively.

Remember, your views are welcomed in the comment section below.

20 thoughts on “Fighting for Migodi: All You Need to Know

  1. This article is very thoughtful and I enjoyed reading every part of it. Growing in Blantyre and Lilongwe I have witnessed alot on these gang pins. In Blantyre there is indeed a large syndicate, the ones that have been arrested this week are some of them.

    When I started work in LL, I have to admit, I felt insecure. Everytime these syndicates could give me this eye like they are watching my every step. I agree with the article, most of these people are thieves. Not just thieves, but hard core criminals and killers. There is one in Area 36, called 11 Bongos. I never enjoyed my stay. Every night felt like a year. To call these organised crimes won’t be an overstatement.

    There is more that has been to be done. The sad thing is, the CID police have files and they tend to put a blind eye. There has to be a commission of enquiry and investigate these for our safe neighbourhood.

    Thanks for your courage to publish this article.

  2. this was a very informative and insightful read. thank you. these are stories that definitey need to be told and issues needed to be resolved.

  3. My gosh, girl you can write, well articulated, well put

    And thank you for bringing this to pen.

  4. Part of definition of poor governance which leads to poor economies. It’s the same situation in our boarders, its a nasty game all over Africa. National security is very important. It’s the duty of the government to safeguard sustainable economies. Solutions exist, learn from developed countries. Lack of knowledge and care for the country leads to these terrible behaviors. Don’t blame the people, blame the nation (not the political party). We are now in industry 4.0, the use of technology is the only miracle which can be used to solve our problems. Our government just need to embrace new ways of performing work in all sectors including national security.

  5. Haha, reminds me of my primary school days at chichiri where we experienced this kind of hustle every time we board minibus. The kingship is literally won mostly by fighting (wresting) and intimidation.
    So even now, if you go by the space where people board Mitundu, Bunda minibus, there is a guy called Ndyomba. This guy has been the king since 2013 till now because no one has managed to beat him down.
    The good thing with these they keep peace in town where police can not.

    I will quote msiska that “thieves knows police as police knows thieves”

  6. This is a great read, an eye opener,. I have shared the link to many and I hope it gets to high officials to read.. I’ll keep posting on their pages repeatedly, making sure it catches their attention especially the president. It’s a serious issue, that needs immediate attention. Thank you for sharing

  7. A friend of mine was awarded a contract a few years ago to manage the Limbe depot public toilets. He was awarded a 2 year contract.

    Everything was done as per the bid he submitted and the site was handed over to him. A few days later a “DPP operative” went to the supervisor of the public facility and snatched the keys and chased my friends workers. He reported to the authorities but there was nothing they could’ve done. They ended up offering him another public toilet. As I’m writing this, the limbe depot public toilet is still controlled by party cadres and they haven’t paid rentals to the city council. The city has lost millions!

  8. So well written, and written on a matter that needs to be addressed with urgency. Thanks for bringing this to our attention, E.

  9. Great write up… I didn’t know about this untill i saw your thread… I’m sure it’s even common in places like Zomba , Lilongwe or Mzuzu. Strides need to be made by the new country administrator for the betterment of people’s lives & freedom.

  10. Well written and eye opening. A few typos which could have been avoided. Ligaria instead of regalia being one of them. Having someone proofread your work before posting it is a solution to look into.

    Otherwise well done and thank you for the article

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