Malawians Dispute CNN's Description of Lake Malawi As 'Crocodile Infested'

26 April 2019

Malawians have reacted very angrily to the report by US-based CNN which described Lake Malawi as crocodile-infested in her report that Martin Hobbs swam across its breath for 54 days in a row to set two world records and raise money for the Smile Foundation.

Entitled 'He swam for 54 days across crocodile-infested Lake Malawi to break two world records', Malawians say this is a distortion of facts because crocodiles are very rare on Lake Malawi.

In his post on Facebook, Onjezani Kenani has asked the Ministry of Tourism to formally protest to CNN over this allegation and that it should retract the story and must publish a full and unconditional apology.

According to the CNN report, Martin Hobbs had never swum a mile before but this week, he cemented a world record by swimming 361 miles -- the full length of Lake Malawi, setting the record longest solo swim in a lake and became the first person to swim the entirety ofLake Malawi after swimming for 54 days in a row.

"The South African swimmer started his athletic career as a competitive off-road biker and marathoner, but after fracturing a disk in his back, he was told he could no longer ride a bike or run. Swimming was the only endurance sport left.

"The open water gave him a way to come back from his devastating injury and also gave him motivation to embark on a new adventure.

He is quoted as saying: "I've always wanted to do an African adventure and never got around to it. I didn't want to be buried one day and be known as the guy who worked very hard and that's it. It's nice to leave a legacy behind."

The CNN report attributes Hobbs as technically breaking the Guinness World Record over this feat on Lake Malawi that spans the entire coast of the eastern African nation.

The report says the Lake is known for being home to deadly crocodiles, hippos and mosquitoes.

But Kenani responded by saying: "Dear @CNN @cnni @cnnbrk. This is fake news, there are no crocodiles in Lake Malawi and you must apologize. Just because it is an African Lake you couldn't resist being racist and decided to brand it as a "crocodile-infested". You must retract this article and apologise to Malawians."

In her reaction, Beatrice Mkwaila said: "If it was infested how did he last 54 days then" while John Emma Kachere said he has lived in Nkhata Bay along the shores of the beautiful lake for almost his entire life in which he has swam and fished in that lake for a long time and yet, never has he ever seen a crocodile or heard of an attack by one.

"This line of reporting is unacceptable and uncalled for. It is totally infuriating that these giant media institutions always have a knack of displaying Africa in a negative light! This story needs to be taken off the internet," Kachere said.

Franciwell Phiri said: "It is a very bad image portrayed by people who have never been to LakeMalawi. People who don't even understand the environment in which crocodiles live and thrive. Such people must first crosscheck with people who have knowledge."

Lily Bertha said: "I was raised on the lake village but never heard of a crocodile attack even up until now" to which Reena Purshotam replied: "[perhaps] not not in your village, Lily Bertha, because generally there are deeper waters up north. Monkey Bay has its fair share of crocs but it is not the whole lake."

Former Miss Malawi, Blandina Khondowe agreed, saying this is "a very disproportional headline. Coming from a reputable news source this is damaging to the image of Malawi. Our Lake is the centre piece ofMalawi Tourism. CNN must provide factual evidence otherwise they must retract the story. And by the way, how did the swimmer survive in a crocodile infested Lake. Rubbish!"

Tobias Kumwenda said: "No wonder we were fed lies that a Mzungu discovered Lake Malawiwhile the indigenous were living along the same areas for ages."

Meanwhile, the CNN report says Hobbs used the Herculean swim as a way to raise money for the Smile Foundation, a South African charity that helps children with cleft palates and other facial deformities.

More From: Nyasa Times

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