All work no play makes Jack a dull boy, so they say. Indeed, great messages can be sent across the populace by spicing it up with pleasure.
So it was on Saturday when Blantyre streets came to a standstill as participants in the annual Nation Publications Limited (NPL) Mother’s Fun Run event trekked from Delamere House in the central business district, down the Haile Selassie Road, into the Masauko Chipembere Highway, to the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH), where K88 million worth of equipment raised by the event was presented to the referral hospital. That is, after only the strong ran from Mpemba to Delamere, a 12.5-kilometre stretch in one hour.
It all started with the Malawi Army Brass Band, which entertained participants, and on-lookers residents with their classical mellow tunes. One tune, like the legendary Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) Nkhani za Uku ndi Uku sig-tune brought fond memories of the late 1980s and early 1990s; the days of a single national radio station.
“Every time we heard this song, in those days, we could know lunch time was approaching and we had to go home,” said one participant.
And, as the procession approached the roundabout towards QECH, the band stopped playing music. The honours were left to only one drummer.
Some participants cried: ‘Magetsi azima, bandi siyikuimba.[Power outage has spoiled the show]’ Others went: ‘Flash yalowa ma virus.[the flash disc has been corrupted]’ But before their cries went farther, the brass band sent the marchers haywire, as they played a popular tune in the religion sector: ‘Ine Toto Kubwerera Mmbuyo!’
And, as the people entered the hospital, where over 14 children were born the previous night, the brass band was subdued by the hospital’s dance troupe which welcomed everyone with their traditional dances. The women were gyrating their waists, the men drumming, as guest of honour British High Commissioner Holly Tett and other dignitaries including Blantyre City Mayor Wild Ndipo and Blantyre district commissioner Bennet Nkasala, were led to the VIP stand of the event that brought together corporate partners, hospital staff and others.
The group performed various acts, but the height of it was when they passed on the deep safe motherhood message the event was all about. Mwana wa thanzi, mayi wa thanzi, Malawi wathanzi. In essence, they were saying a healthy baby and a healthy mother means a healthy mother Malawi. Mother Malawi, by the way, is a closing feature in the Malawi National Anthem.
When director of ceremonies Owen Lupeska of Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) introduced the Mibawa Band, it seemed a simple feat. He urged participants to join in the dance if they could.
The band played renditions from Bob Marley. Then, they shifted to one of the local crowd-pullers, Black Missionaries Band’s Ndimakukonda. Slowly, participants flocked the open space. But, before some of the patrons could go back to their seats, the band performed Jah Prayzah’s Mdhara Vachauya. This got more participants on the dance floor. And before they went back to their seats, the band brought Brenda Fassie’s Weekend Special which attracted more attention.
Yet, that was not enough. Organisers chose to present the guest of honour Trett a gift to remember. Guess what it was? A caricature by NPL cartoonist Ralph Mawera, depicting Tett chatting with a new mother during a sleep-over at Limbe Health Centre last week.
Tett seemed in awe when she received the caricature from NPL chief executive officer Mbumba Banda.