Recently we were in the capital City of the Republic of the Shire Highlands, as Blantyre or Kabula, was aptly named by our colonisers, the people who defined our borders, introduced Western educational and political values and taught us to hate our Gods in favour of one God, the God of Israel.
We were enjoying the beautiful roads that former mayor Noel Chalamanda and his team at Blantyre Civic Centre have constructed or repaired. Even though townships like Chilomoni, Nthukwa, Chatha and Chilobwe are still crying for improved roads, what has been achieved so far is worth our commendation. If this progress continues in the next year, we will remove Blantyre City from the list of Cities of Mediocrity.
On the day Malisoni Ndau was dismissed or relieved of his ministerial responsibilities, it rained so hard here that we feared that hurriedly built structures in our vicinity would collapse and contribute to worsen our state of misery. On that Malison Ndau day, the day Nicholas Dausi thanked God for being appointed Minister of Information, on that day we hired a Toyota Belita to take us to the dealers to collect our VW Amailoko so that we continue our expedition.
We could not. The road and atmospheric conditions were not conducive to expeditionary driving. Instead, we went to have some Mzuzu Coffee at Chez Elle in downtown Michiru.
“Welcome, Sirs,” a young lady blessed with a typically African skin and typically African teeth, greeted us.
“Sirs and mademoiselle,” Jean-Philippe corrected the young typically African lady as he pointed at Abiti Joyce Befu, who is fondly also known as MG 66.
“Sorry, Madam,” the young lady said as she gave each one of us the menu.
“Give me local Maliya beans with rice and a cup of hot Mzuzu coffee,” I ordered.
“What’s happening here?” Jean-Philippe asked, adding, “Who will eat the fish if you ask for beans?”
“Change. I am now a vegetarian. I have changed,” I said.
“Great. Change is good,” the Most Paramount Native Authority Mandela said as he ordered his favourite fried pork with French fries, as Irish potatoes are known in the world of nutrition, restaurant and gastro-economics.
Jean-Philippe and MG 66 each ordered an open chambo grilled on charcoal from Neno. Jean-Philippe asked the young lady to give each one of us a drink as we waited for the main dish.
Then we heard a crack of thunder. Then heavens softened, the gates opened and lo, it rained like it will never rain again.
“If Malawi’s politicians and agricultural engineers were serious, water would not be a problem in this country,” Jean-Philippe said before drawing our attention to water gusting from the roof of hotel Chez Elle.
“I share your observation. I hear in Rwanda and other right-thinking and progress-focused countries, such water is harvested using roof gutters directed into water collectors and locally made dams,” Abiti said.
“Water harvesting can and ought to be done at household level, city level, district level, province level and national level,” Jean-Philippe went on.
“Maybe the government should ask our donors like China, Russia, Zambia and Rwanda to teach us how to harvest water and buy for us water tanks for storing the rainwater,” MG 66 suggested.
“You mean, for once, you can’t think about helping yourselves? Have you been to VSO in Lilongwe?” Jean-Philippe wondered.
“What is VSO?” the Most Paramount Native Authority asked.
“The Voluntary Service Overseas or VSO has produced easy-to-follow manuals on rainwater harvesting, among others,” I said, explaining, “The manuals are free. So, instead of asking for donors, let’s use adopt-and-adapt locally produced technologies and models to harvest this rainwater. We will need this water, soon.”
“Instead of concentrating all your efforts on who has been fired and hired, who has resigned or defected from which political party or who has founded a new church here and there, you, Malawians, should invest your collective effort in productive talk, debate and discussion. Ask yourselves: Our country suffers water shortages annually, why are we not harvesting this rainwater?” Jean-Philippe advised. n