Those found guilty of various crimes have been imprisoned and relegated to the back of our minds. They’ve been locked up and the keys thrown away. Most of us decide that they don’t deserve second chances.
Such is the case of Zomba Prison, a maximum-security facility in Malawi.
The prison which was built during the British era, to hold 330 people, has two thousand or more at any given time.
It was to this same prison that Grammy winner and author Ian Brennan and his wife Marilena Delli, along with Kyp Malone and Tunde Adebimpe were granted access.
They gave the inmates an opportunity to record their music. It was the resulting album “I Have No Everything Here“ that’s been given a Grammy nomination.
The album has been nominated in the “Best World Music Album” category. A first for a record out of Malawi.
These prisoners still face other problems, apart from overcrowding.
Due to the prevalence of HIV and AIDS in the prison, the residents see imprisonment as a life sentence, because those that are disease free when they come to the prison more often than not end up with the disease.
The female residents also face the difficult decision of having one child under five years of age live in the prison with them, which means they have to choose between their offspring.
With constant food shortages and overcrowding, prison conditions are particularly rough on the children. The topic is addressed in one of the more gripping songs on the album: “Please don’t kill my child” above.
A lot of the prisoners have been unjustly jailed for situations where they are not the perpetrators, but the victims. Some are serving out life sentences they received as children.
Ian Brennan put the album’s proceeds towards legal representation for some of the prisoners. Since the making of the album, three of the female prisoners on the album have been released.
We definitely hope that Zomba Prison Project wins the award!