Dick Shumba, aka The Diktator, is a Malawian rapper with two albums under his belt. He is also a well-known DJ for Radio 2 FM in Malawi. He is the presenter for Nkhawa Njee ‘Yonse Bo’ (Depression free, life is cool), a radio program that helps raise awareness of mental health issues facing Malawian youth.
“Most young people might have problems,” said Shumba, “but for them to share those problems with their parents, or people they are staying with, is difficult because Malawian culture isolates young people and their parents.”
Remaining distant from parents is a sign of respect but Shumba said it means that the youth suffer in silence. “They don’t discuss when they have problems and this leads to depression.”
Nkhawa Njee ‘Yonse Bo’ has helped break through some of the cultural barriers, helping youth talk about mental health issues.
Shumba said the youth have learnt the importance of sharing their worries with somebody else. That somebody else may be a friend or The Dikatator himself.
“Sometimes the youth tell me things they would not tell their parents, things they would not even tell their friends. We have created a situation where they are free to talk to me about whatever is on their minds,” he said.
The problems are diverse but they remind Shumba of what it is like to be the presenter of an innovative radio program.
“I am dealing with people who have problems. At the end of the day you have to be motivational, you don’t want to disappoint them so it is different to the other show I have hosted before because you just talk about music, but this is about a real life situation,” he said.