Those who care will, those who don’t care should, remember that our Bottom Up expedition started five years ago. Our first assignment for the International Geographic, as soon as Jean-Philippe landed in Malawi, was to find out how the Reverend John Chilembwe died, who killed him and where he was buried.
To fulfill this assignment we had to travel to the Republic of Lomweland comprising the Republics of Chiradzulo, Thyolo, Phalombe, Mulanje and Milanje, whose current Supreme Leader is not Mwene wa Mwene Ngongoliwa, but the Ayatollah Vincento Wandale.
During this, first we learned that Chilembwe was hunted down and killed by fellow Nyasas, fellow Lhomwes to be precise, who served in the Nyasaland Police and were paid for the job. These same Nyasas took the great revolutionary reverend’s body to Mulanje where it was displayed in a court of law for identification. What we failed to establish was where and how the mighty warrior reverend was buried. Was his body cremated? Dissolved in acid? Our expedition will not stop until we find the answers to dispel the Chilembwe myths.
Since then we have been here several times. This year we came here to join the many Malawians and non-Malawians who thronged Providence Industrial Mission (PIM) at Magomero to celebrate Chilembwe’s life and achievements and to ponder on the futility of martyrdom.
This year, we were pleased that the leaders and members, sorry followers or fanatics of the Malawi Congress Party, the Democratic Progressive Party and other small political parties such as the United Democratic Front and the People’s Party decided to bury their differences, dress in their party regalia and come together as one large Malawian political family to honour the man many now believe laid the foundation of Malawi’s freedom from British exploitative and murderous imperialism.
However, hell broke loose when the man who was supposed to unite us, preach to us, teach us about Chilembwe’s mission, and give us hope, started quoting the Gospel of St Patrick Makondetsa found in the latest Malawi edition of the Holy Bible.
According to this Gospel of St Patrick Makondetsa, God is not happy when police officers arrest thieves; God is infuriated when the corrupt are arrested, tried and jailed; God is angry when reporters investigate and shame Cashgate, Maizegate, Tractorgate and Drugsgate masters; God is particularly displeased that journalists and freelance reporters reveal the rot that senior civil servants and politicians have mired Malawi into. The preacher was at his rhetorical best.
“We are poor because God is angry. We have Maizegate because God is angry. We have flush floods every year because God is angry. We have HIV and Aids because God is angry. We have blackouts because God is angry. Our public universities are closed because God is angry. We have a mediocre football team because God is angry.
“The politically powerful are getting richer and the materially weak are getting poorer because God is angry. And I verily tell you that all this anger from God is a result of bad and negative reporting by jealous journalists, reporters and the divided and sick opposition political party leaders.
“But, I can assure you, Sir, that, as the Rev. John Chilembwe wanted, this government, this administration, your government, our administration is here to stay,” the preacher said, smiling slyly like someone who has just finished a packet of Vinho do Nampula.
“I am leaving,” Al Hajj Mufti Jean-Philippe LePoisson, SC (RTD) said, standing up, “I can no longer stomach this kind of preaching!”
“Cool down,” I, the Mohashoi, cajoled him as I pulled him back into his blue seat.
“No, I can’t tolerate this…!” Jean-Philippe insisted.
“You can’t walk away while the man of God is still preaching!” the Most Paramount Native Authority Mzee Mandela said.
“This is not preaching. This is corruption promotion. This is ostrich journalism promotion. This is a call for zombie citizenship. This is inciting political enmity. Actually, that man ought to be jailed!” Jean-Philippe whispered.
“There is freedom of expression and freedom worship in Malawi. He will be through very soon. And the next minute people will forget about what he has said. And everything will be all right. Soon!” Abiti Joyce Befu, MG 66, reasoned.
“What did I just say? Look! Party supporters are slaughtering each other out there,” Jean-Philippe said, pointing at young men in different party colours some of whom were swearing at each other, others were slapping each other and yet others were holding each by the neck, brand new machetes ready for the slaughter.
“Blame all this political violence on bad reporting!” the preacher said, drawing the attention of the Chilembwe memorial audience to the fighting youths yonder. n