Jean-Philippe has since left Malawi for France to produce the long-awaited International Geographic TV magazine programme on the death of John Chilembwe.
I drove him to Chileka. Before he took his flight, we decided to spend some time at the Wavers Bay.Â The place was unusually quiet. No music. No customer.Â The only people present were the barman, the mangâ€™ina operator and two young-looking women, who sat in one of the summer huts, scratching their heads.
As soon as we settled down in the summer hut opposite where the young-looking women sat, Jean-Philippe called for a Green Carsbegger and some goat mangâ€™ina.Â The barman went inside the bar. After some time he came back and reported that he had run out of Carsbegger products.Â He offered us some exotic drinks. Jean-Philippe declined but I told the barman that I would drink anything drinkable.
â€œI donâ€™t understand why we donâ€™t have Carsbegger drinks,â€ the barman complained.
â€œI suspect the brewer does not have the ingredients for brewing drinks,â€ I said.
â€œAnd why is there no margarine?â€
â€œIs margarine also a Carlsbegger drink?â€ I asked.
â€œLearn not to mix unrelated issues.â€
â€œBut my question still stands. I want to know why we donâ€™t have margarine.â€
â€œMaybe there are no ingredients for making margarine.â€
The barman shook his head before asking: â€œWhy do these companies not tell us their problems? That way we will understand them and explain to our customers. Now we are left guessing.â€
â€œAnd what is your guess?â€ Jean-Philippe asked.
â€œSomeone came here last night and told us that the government is trying to stop the selling of alcohol because President Joyce Banda wants Malawi to be an alcohol-free country.â€
â€œDid you believe that?â€ Jean-Philippe went on.
The barman nodded yes. The mangâ€™ina operator brought us the goat mangâ€™ ina. The two young-looking women joined us to partake in the meal. I asked the barman to bring me Chivas Excellenta and still water for Jean-Philippe.
â€œI now believe women are indeed not ready to run this country. During Binguâ€™s time we had security even though some people complained about fuel and forex shortages,â€ said one of the young-looking women, called Christina. The other woman nodded in agreement.
â€œWhat security? Where were you when the police massacred and maimed innocent protesters? When people were robbed at gunpoint? When civil society offices that were gutted? When media institutions lost their property to party sponsored vandalism?â€
â€œThose were isolated incidents. During Binguâ€™s time, we had drinks, subsidised fertilisers and free ARVs. Joyce Banda does not even know where Bingu used to get the ARVs,â€ Christina countered.
Jean-Philippe laughed. He told the young-looking women the free ARVs were donations and if there were any ARV distribution scale-down it was because of problems Binguâ€™s government had with donors. But, he said, both the subsidised fertiliser programme and free ARV distribution would continue.