As the years go by, technology has become highly accessible to people of different ages. Adults are able to communicate via zoom, adolescents dive headfirstinto Instagram and children are even able to navigate through YouTube. As a result of ‘entertainment’ being available everywhere you turn, there are times when media falls in the wrong hands or takes a wrong turn.
Recently in Malawi, videos a 5-year old girl named Nellie Mpezani have made rounds in the country, where she refers to herself as ‘Auntie Nellie’. In these videos, she depicts herself as a woman way older than herself, who addresses issues that affect society. Unfortunately, some of the issues she has discussed have brought on controversy and raised questions. One of her videos have included her referring to herself as a ‘wife’ who is excited about her husband return home early because of the COVID-19 restrictions. It appears this is the video that has caused a frenzy.
At face value, we can all surely assume and feel as though this is a funny skit. However, Nellie is a 5-year-old girl. As Catholic Women Organisation chairperson Lucy Vokhiwa has stated, “No girl should be groomed about such things at such a young age. It robs her of her innocence. That is why we asked government to intervene and censor her content”. To others, it may seem as though censoring her ‘jokes’ is an absurdity or ‘too much’, however, Lucy Vokhiwa is right. She is too young to be exposed to such developments. If she spends her time involved in such situations right now, when will she ever be a child? She will trade her youth in exchange for shares on WhatsApp and likes on Instagram. She can grow up psychologically programmed to believe everything she is speaking of at such a young age.
This is not to take away anything from her talent, however. Nellie speaks with such poise and confidence, that she does not need a topic likened tomature people or what marriages are going through, which could offend the general public to make her noticeable. She could walk into a quiet room and her first sentence would draw you to her. She is a flower waiting to bloom, she just needs the correct nourishment and light.
As a result of all of this, the Malawi Censorship Board has condemned video clips circulating on social media and says the video clips mock the modesty of children by exposing the girl to social matters that are adult in nature. “The Censorship Board has, therefore, declared such videos by Aunt Nellie as undesirable as provided under the Censorship and Control of Entertainment Act,” reads a statement signed by chief censoring officer Anganile Nthakomwa.
She also appealed to those in the business of producing videos for public consumption to be submitting their productions to the board for reviews and be guided on content that may likely infringe on the rights of a child and also offend the general public. Although, Mr. Gift Mawila stated that the parents of Nellie are aware and have given consent for these videos to circulate, he has also understood the stance of the board and is willing to review content.
Children a genuinely urged to express and dabble with their talent as much as they can. However, they must not have adult issues imposed on them. They must be able to enjoy their youth.