We are still ‘resting in peace’ here at Mawe, Jenda City in the Kingdom of Mzimba. We have been up and down the town centre and we are pleased to inform the world that we endorse Jenda. A tourist who does not set foot at Jenda misses a lot and misses the real Warm Heart of Africa. He or she misses the morning market hustle and bustle. He or she misses the hip-swinging antics displayed by the girls from Zambia. He or she misses the warm chat with the people from surrounding villages. He or she misses a lot.
That is why we are still here. We want to leave this place satisfied about its services, its cool temperatures; its cool drinks; its cool and cheap meals and its fresh vegetables, majungu (pumpkins), vimphwete (thorny cucumbers) and vikhau (cassava).
We planned to travel to Kanyika on the Mzimba-Kasungu border to see for ourselves the progress that has been recorded in the rare earths mining projects taking place there. We will report back the truth, whether one minister gets angry and accuses us of scaring away investors. Let the investors get scared, indeed, if the deals are done in such a way that they leave the local communities destitute. We will report back like we did about Kaziwiziwi coalmine which enriched the rich and impoverished the poor people of Phokaland and left them with incurable coughs. We will report back like we did about the Kayekera mining deal because the rich got the sweet cake leaving the poor expectant with hope for a better future from their own natural resources and drinking contaminated water.
In preparation for that long trip to Kanyika, we have subjected the VW Amailoko to some serious maintenance. Yes, Jenda has a reliable garage! And there is fuel, here, dazi lililose (everyday). Of course, one can also obtain the precious liquid from the many tankers that stop here to ‘refuel’. In the absence of the Amailoko, we are using a VW Polio. We tried to fit into a Toyota Mpasu but we politely agreed to go for the Polio.
As we waited for the big outing to Kanyika, we decided to visit Katete Mission at Champhira on foot. Champhira is one nice but dusty place with a lot of services: a secondary school, a primary school, a clinic, a court, a church, bottle stores, beerhalls, and, of course, a graveyard. When we got there, we met an affable man who introduced himself as Dada Nkuna. He took us to the nearest ‘drinking joint’ to taste the real Mzimbian entertainment: dance, mkontho and meat.
“I wonder why journalists like writing about negative things only,” Nkuna said as he sipped on his calabash of mkontho (traditional beer).
“Are you sure about your observation?” I asked.
“I am serious. You know, every day we hear about Cashgate this; Cashgate that but nothing positive about Malawi’s beauty, nothing about mkontho (traditional beer) celebrations and other things that can attract tourists!”Nkuna went on.
“Malawi has beautiful things, flora and fauna but does it have the infrastructure and zeal to attract tourists?” I asked.
“Does Dada Nkuna watch MBC TV? There is always good and positive news there!” Sheikh Jean-Philippe LePoisson, SC (RTD) asked, mockingly. We laughed.
“People like former President Bakili Muluzi are mocked so much so that foreigners may even conclude that the man never did anything positive during his presidency,” Nkuna went on, ignoring the laughter.
“Did you say Muluzi?” Abiti Joyce Befu, MG 66, AMAI (RTD) asked before bursting into uncontrollable laughter.
“Look here. Muluzi set things in motion. He built democracy institutions such as the ACB, the MHRC, the Electoral Commission, allowed civil society to flourish, introduced free primary education, provided potable water throughout the country, built the Mzuzu Central Hospital, the Bakili Bridge, the Mzuzu University and resurfaced all roads that needed resurfacing. Yet, no journalist wants to acknowledge these contributions! Muluzi deserves honour and respect,” Nkuna said.
“Ok, fine,” MG 66 said, “where is the ‘Ladies’?”
“Walk straight and then turn left,” Nkuna said.
As AMAI, as MG 66 is fondly called, walked to the ‘Ladies’, Nkuna fell silent for a moment before commenting, “Indeed, mkazi ndi kumbuyo.”
“What did he say?” Jean-Philippe asked, rather perturbed.
“Just ignore him. He is getting high on mkontho (traditional beer),” Mzee Native Authority Mandela reasoned.