The protests got postponed and other than a few army trucks going by, all was quiet on Wednesday. Whew! Possible reasons they got postponed:
1. A UN envoy came to Malawi to facilitate negotiations between the government and the civil society organization leaders
2. The president left the country just before the protests so groups might have wanted to wait till he returned
3. The leaders got paid by the government not to protest again
Or some combination of the above! The program evaluation that my internship has been leading up to got postponed in anticipation of these protests which was a bit of a bummer, but safety is obviously important. The night before the protests, there were rumors they’d be postponed but no one was sure, so everywhere people were on alert. Since there were just us three women in the house, and there were rumors that expat houses would be targeted, we stayed at another staff member’s house that night and packed our bags with all essential items (which for me included my 6 months-worth of diabetes supplies! I’m still amazed I managed to get 1,200 syringes through customs…). It seems silly now since nothing happened, but at the time we had to be prepared in case looters jumped the fence. Ironically, the compound’s security guards aren’t armed so they wouldn’t have been much help in that situation. Since my host family is from Pakistan, though, and was used to hearing bomb blasts close by and regularly, this seemed mild by comparison! And everything was fine in the end, so we enjoyed the day off from work and played hide-and-seek with the staff member’s daughter in their beautiful garden.