On Wednesday, November 30, musician and social justice activist Masauko Chipembere visited many different Poly classes ranging from the lower school to the high school to share his knowledge and music. Among these classes was the 2022–2023 global scholars cohort. Chipembere graduated from Poly in 1988 and since then has flourished as a Malawian-American singer-songwriter and played a pivotal role in the Permaculture and Music project for W.I.N.(Women’s Initiative Network) Malawi. His mother, Catherine Chipembere, is one of the most prominent activists in the Mangochi region of Malawi and the founder of WIN Malawi. Because of his parents’ activism, they were in political exile from Malawi: thus, Masauko was born in Los Angeles.
Masauko shared his journey as an international presence from being a Poly student up until the present day. Namely, Masauko talked about his struggle trying to fit into norms and stereotypes. When he first came to Poly, Masauko played on the football team and was friends with a group of jocks who embodied toxic masculine culture. He said his “friends” would playfully make fun of him and tease him. He played into the jokes in order to fit in, but eventually found the courage to stand up to them and be independent. He left the friend group and ended up joining the school musical. From there, he started playing music and singing and hasn’t stopped since. Masauko’s story of finding himself and his passion at Poly was both inspiring and comforting. As a current student at Poly, it was relatable to hear about an experience of self-discovery. Moreover, it was promising to hear about how Poly played a role in Masauko’s path as a musician and social justice activist.
After a few lovely and powerful songs, Masauko talked about his work on the Permaculture and Music project for WIN Malawi. Permaculture is an innovative method of agriculture that is transformative to rural farmers. For the Permaculture and Music project, Malawi’s permaculture expert, Luwayo Biswick, holds annual permaculture training courses for the local rural farmers of Mangochi region of Malawi. Masauko talked about how he is not an expert in Permaculture, but played a vital role as a connector. Masauko uses his platform as a musician to teach others about and spread the innovative Permaculture.
As a young student that is interested in many different global issues, I sometimes feel helpless against daunting global issues like climate change so it was comforting to hear about the impact Masauko was able to make, despite not being an expert in Permaculture. After Masauko’s visit, I felt both inspired and empowered.