Sometime last week, I visited Flames coach Ernest ‘Wire’ Mtawali at his Chilomoni Township dig. I have known Ernest as a carefree fella and as lunch time approached, he suggested that we take a stroll to the township’s main market known as ‘Msika waukulu’, which is about half a kilometre away, to buy tomato and matemba.
At the market, Mtawali appeared free with women who sell foodstuff and one of them even joked: “Zoona akochi tomato fifite yemweyu kunenerera pulayezi?” And Ernest could only respond with a boyish grin as he packed the three tomatoes and matemba in a small plastic bag—he didn’t give it a damn. He appeared at peace with himself away from the hustles of his challenging Flames’ task.
Perhaps having lived lavish lifestyle for over two decades in countries such as South Africa, Italy, France and Argentina —where he played with some of the world’s best such as Thierry Henry (France) and Diego Maradona (Argentina)—it’s back to take it easy and back to his roots.
But as we strolled back to his house, heavy rains started falling and Mtawali stunned me with his pace as he ran in pursuit for shelter, living me way behind; worse still, a car driving at high-speed splashed him with rain water as naughty kids chanted: “Akochi anyowa!”
This was the whole national football coach suffering embarrassment because his employers—Football Association of Malawi (FAM) and government—have not provided him with a vehicle. Although he put on a brave face and made fun of the incident by saying ‘nilibe pulobulemu’, I felt for him.
Well, at least, it was quite relieving to hear the association’s general secretary Suzgo Nyirenda assuring that they are in the process of buying him a car. But if it were mere talk, then they should seriously consider buying him a three-wheeler tricycle or a bicycle. For God’s sake how does the man identify talent or assess players without transport? Glory be to God. Uloliwe…uloliwe wayidudula hah!, neng’esiza [The train is pushing].n