Last Saturday, May 28, we, our leader of delegation and inspiration, Abiti Joyce Befu, also known as MG 66, the Most Paramount Native Authority Mzee Mandela, Alhajj Sheikh Jean-Philippe LePoisson and I, the Mohashoi, drove to the City of Zomba to dance and celebrate the sending off of Alumbengi Lucy Nyamwasi, who was getting married to a boy from Ungoni, as the people of Tongaland or West Nyasa, call Mzimba, sorry, M’Mbelwa, the land the Jere Ngoni militarily snatched from the Tumbuka and Tonga peoples.
Since the wedding celebration was billed to commence at 13.30 Nyasaland time, we left early to ensure that we drove slowly enough to avoid paying K5 000 to Malawi reformed and ethical traffic police. From our estate in Cashgate’s New Area 43, we drove to the Area 12 PTC to buy some drinks for the road.
“I can’t believe this!” I exclaimed as we parked our Nissan Amailoko.
“What is it?” the Alhajj asked drily as he alighted from the car.
“This was Area 12 PTC, my brother”, I said. “20 years ago, this place was spic and span. If Kamuzu Banda rose from the dead today he would die again immediately out of shock. Can’t the PTC management repair this parking lot? Look how dirty the surroundings are! Malawi, my shameful backward moving country!”
“Well?” Jean-Philippe mocked.
“This is serious!” I shouted.
“No. Live not in the past but in the present.”
“Don’t be too clever in a country without minimum standards! Malawi is the only country that allows its people to wear used underwear!”Jean-Philippe reminded me.
“Guys. Let’s do the shopping and get going. Those who cry for the past die without reaching the future!” Abiti Joyce Befu said.
We bought some fantakoko, Chivas Mikhito, Elephant Amalaula and other softies. Immediately we got into the car and I started the engine, MG 66 asked me to give her one minute. She left for the bathroom. She came back heavily powdered like that woman you see in newspapers. Plus, she wore heavy perfume. Nobody commented, but Mzee asked her where she had bought the perfume.
“I bought it from one of the shops run by the NGO, Disease from People to People (DIPP). Why?” MG 66 responded and opened her handbag to vaseline her mouth.
“I suspect it must have expired!” Mzee joked seriously.
“And started rotting,” Jean-Philippe added.
We all laughed. I started the engine and drove down to the City Centre on our way to Zomba. Soon after leaving the Police Roadblock near Bunda Turn Off, the Amailoko picked up speed. At Nathenje, two traffic officers waved us down and pointed us to someone hiding in the bushes with a camcorder on the stand pointing in our direction. Next to him sat another officer with office stationery.
“What’s it?” I asked.
“Exceeding the speed limit for an up area is punishable by a K5 000 on the spot fine!” one traffic officer said.
“We don’t have K5 000!” Jean-Philippe protested.
“Go and talk to that gentleman sitting down there!”
I went there and pleaded for mercy. The police officer was understanding. He asked me how much I had. I told him I had K1 000. He asked me to add another K1 000. I did. He collected the money and issued a Malawi Government Receipt which indicated that we had been charged, found guilty of inconsiderate driving and sentenced to a K2 000.00 fine.
As we started off to continue with our journey, a bicycle taxi carrying a pregnant woman and a baby came whizzing down the M1 and smashed into the front right tyre of our Amailoko. The cyclist and his passengers fell onto the tarmac road. The traffic officers rushed in to assist.
“What happened?” one traffic officer asked me.
“He banged into our car! Ask him,” I said.
The bicycle taxi cyclist apologised and explained his bicycle had no brakes and he used his feet to stop it. This time, though, he failed to stop it although he applied his “foot brake”.
“Do bicycle taxis ever go for Certificate of Fitness (CoF) tests?” Jean-Philippe asked.
“Or are bicycle taxis insured and licenced to carry passengers?” Abiti added.