We are in Salima to enjoy the sunshine at Senga Bay. While we like the comfort of our Silver Stones Hotel rooms, the absence of haram drinks makes the place horrible to spend the night at. Venturing out is quite costly. But, we are a delegation that sacrifices resources for happiness, pleasure and leisure. So, each time our conference is over for the day, we drive to Salima town, some 20 kilometres away from the lake, to mingle with the people there.
Our real problem, which some observers fail to appreciate, is that we are not a flora and fauna nor a vista tourism delegation. Ours, we repeat, is a people, culture, drink, dance, and food tourism. Wherever people congregate to enjoy themselves and protest things, we are there. That is why we were very angry with the Supreme Court injunction against HRDC organised vigils, sit-ins, marches and demonstrations.
We love joining the demonstrations, not because we really believe they will force Justice of Appeal Jane Ansah to resign but because we love the entertainment, the music, the songs, the message on the placards, the flip flap of shoes, the whistling and dramatisations that characterise the demonstrations.
If we were asked to organise the demonstrations differently, as expatriate experts, we would be more focused and conduct the sit-ins or vigils not at airports or in streets but at Malawi’s Electoral Commission precincts to bar Justice Ansah and her fellow commissioners from leaving or entering their offices.
We know Dausian law will define the Electoral Commission as a protected area but we will justify our presence there as one way of making the place even more protected.
Last Wednesday, Salima was generally boring. We spent a few hours at Mwala wa Bingu near Madando 147 Bar cooling down our anger and bodies with our usual fantakoko. Then a young man, wearing a Bin Laden beard shave, approached us.
“So, this is the famous Joyce Befu!” Bin Laden asked, patting our team leader on her left shoulder.
Nganga protested: “Man, please get away before we react. According to Dausian Law, that woman is a protected entity and the one-metre radius from where she sitting is a protected area. You risk arrest.”
Prof Abiti Dr Joyce Befu and Mufti Jean-Philippe LePoisson, SC (RTD) did not react.
“Apologies, guys. I thought I was joking and trying to be friendly,” Bin Laden said.
“It’s fine. Just learn to respect other people’s private spaces even in public places, that is if you love your life,” Dr Befu warned.
“Again, please receive my apologies. I had a question, though,” Bin Laden said changing topics.
“Ask and it shalt be answered thee,” I said jocundly.
“Have you walked past the Kamuzu Bridge on the M5 highway to Blantyre?” Bin Laden asked.
“No, but we have driven over it. What’s the matter?” Nganga asked
“Today we took a walk beyond the bridge to see life in the villages there. As we walked on the bridge, the bridge shook so threateningly each time a car passed by. I asked myself: ‘For how long will this bridge hold on?”
“I never felt it when we drove on it,” I said.
“You need to walk. Just go there and lean against the rails. You will feel what I mean,” Bin Laden said.
“Report it to Mr Chimulirenji? He is responsible for disaster preparedness,” Abiti proposed.
“Which Chimulirenji?” Bin Laden asked.
“The Vice-President of Malawi,” I said.
“Is his position also being contested alongside that of his boss?” asked Bin Laden, adding “I am not following the post-election legal battles”.
“ Ask him,” Abiti answered, “Is he not the one running the country now?”