Wherever he goes, eyes turn in his direction and tongues wag because of his short and small stature. But when Kondwani Kamiyala met Donnex Kamangazula in Blantyre recently, he was overwhelmed by the giant in DonnexÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s skin.
May 15, 2009. The College of Medicine Sports Complex was jam-packed as people from all backgrounds thronged the venue to see in flesh Nollywood actress Rita Dominic.
Security was tight. No one was to come too close to the Nigerian actress. No one would go anywhere near the high table, where Rita was following the proceedings.
When Black Missionaries played Dalo, the security grew even tighter, as Rita stood to join the dance. Journalists were shoved from getting near the high table. Dancing and dazed fans, who were about to break the barrier towards Rita, faced security pushes and gun butt threats.
But not for Donnex Kamangazula, who, thanks to his size, had squeezed himself past security, onto the high table platform and everyone went agog when he was locked in a jovial dance with the Nigerian actress.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Rita is the one who beckoned me on stage. I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to go on stage, but I rushed there so that she could have maximum Malawian fun,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Kamangazula, a couple of weeks ago when reminded of the scene two years ago.
Ã¢â‚¬ËœMy height doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t bother meÃ¢â‚¬â„¢
Aged 22, Donnex is unique, with his short body frame. If you looked at him from behind, you would think he is a 10 year-old boy.
Walk with him through the streets of Blantyre, even for some 20 metres, you will see eyes turning, tongues wagging. Some wave in his direction. He returns every wave and greeting with a smile.
One would think he would be discouraged with his height, where everyone would want to treat him like a kid or ignore him as just a replica of Nigerian actors Aki na Ukwa.
No, he is not. In fact, he says, he does not allow his height to stand in his way to get a life.
Donnex, a Seventh-Day Adventist adherent, rolls his eyes: Ã¢â‚¬Å“I believe I am unique because that is the way God made me. I am not a half man for I have everything that a man must have.Ã¢â‚¬Â
He is the last born in a family of three. Both his brother and deceased sister had normal heights. His parents, as well, had normal height.
Donnex, who comes from Nakhalu Village in T/A Kayembe in Dowa, recalls that life has been tough for him since his primary school days at Sindeya Primary School in Dowa.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I lost my father when I was in Standard 3. He had been a teacher at Dedza Secondary School. As if that was not sad enough, the ridicule I was getting because of my height was too much to bear. I thought I would grow into a normal height, but when I knew this is how God wanted me to be, I simply began to ignore the ridicule,Ã¢â‚¬Â he says.
What was even more painful for him was that his age-mates simply did not want him to be with them. He was supposed to associate with those much younger than him.
As time passed, and he needed secondary school education, he proceeded to stay with his brother, who was then working in Thyolo. Donnex was schooling at Mpinji Community day Secondary School, before shifting to Soche Hill Secondary School and Chichiri Secondary School.
After completing his secondary school education, he wanted to proceed and study purchasing and supply, but due to lack of resources, he did not go far with the course.
The stars smiled on him when he started work as a salesman at Agrihort, then GPY Investment before joining the Medical Aid Society of Malawi (Masm) where he is a banking clerk. That is, after he managed to pay for a course for the Certificate in Financial Accounting (CIFA).
Ã¢â‚¬Å“There are a number of people who I owe a lot for they have assisted me in my studies. Right now, with all the hitches I am facing looking after my two brothers from another mother, the hard economic times, I am not sure I will reach my goal. God will see me through,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Donnex, who plans to marry the current love of his life five years from now.
Those that have watched Nigerians Aki na Ukwa in action canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t help think of Donnex as an actor. That would not be far from the truth. He appears in Michael UsiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s film, International Cook.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I used to enjoy acting. The height was when I acted in that Manganya film. Before that, I used to rehearse with Wanna Do,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.