We are still here at Nsipe, the future Ndata of Malawi, where Nsipeans smilingly dream to see a new university, hospital, sports stadium and water reservoir for the whole Mangoni. That is when, not if, Saulos Klaus Chilima wins the presidential election next May.
Curtesy of our new-found friend and confidante, Chinkwenta, we have forayed into the surrounding areas and visited places we had been to before. We have been to the headquarters of Traditional Champiti, Makwangwala, and Kwataine.
At Traditional Authority Mwakwangwala’s headquarters, we admired the obelisks constructed and dedicated to the memory of the founding leaders of modern Mangoni in this largely Nyanja country. Our current cultural tourism has taught us that the people Mangoni are extremely tolerant, religiously, and generously, verbally and gastronomically.
In one village we visited, Kachimangakanga, there is a mosque in which people praise Allah, five churches belonging to five denominations where people praise God, a dambwe where people pray to the spirits of Chewa gods, a Nyabinghi Temple where people praise Jah, a common graveyard where Njobvu nyau tombs lie side by side with Christian cross and Moslem quarter moon graveyards.
On the outskirts of this village, there is a pork selling and grilling stall, traditional beer stall, traditional spirit alcohol stall, a tearoom and a kaunjika bench. Not very far from this village, there is a primary school called Kadansana.
When asked to explain why such a small village had so many religious institutions, Chikwenta told us the people of Kachimangakanga are one and behave as one, eat as one, think as one, die as one and bury each other as one. On Sunday they are Christians, on Friday they are Muslims, on Saturday they are Rastas and every evening they are Nyau practitioners. Kachimangakanga is a model village, a place where the government should come to learn about peaceful coexistence.
As we drove back in our newly-acquired Mitubise Patelo, we agreed to stop at a place called Nkhumba to have grilled pork for the road back to Nsipe. In the car, the conversation was animated.
“Do you now understand why I told you that we Mangonians are probably the most generous and tolerant Malawians?” Chinkwenta asked.
“But I wonder why a school should be named Kadansana,” Professor Abiti Joyce Befu responded.
“What’s in a name?” Chinkwenta challenged.
“Names mean a lot. If you are named idiot you are likely to be an idiot. If you are called mavuto you will always suffer,” Abiti explained.
“I have friends called Mulungu or God who have not become God, others called Chilungamo who are very biased and yet others named Kaimfa who are much alive in their old age,” Chinkwenta said, sending the car into rapturous laughter.
“What is Kadansana, by the way?” Jean-Philippe asked.
“It means eclipse,” Mzee Mandela said, adding, “it also means being drunk; but locally an eclipse symbolises darkness and problems that we must endure before a bright day or night lightens up our spirits again.”
“Mangoni and Malawi have been in a state of kadansana for years, but May 2019 will be the day the skies will clear. On that day, we rename our school from Kadansana to Kachausiku,” Chinkwenta said, jokingly.
“Forget about winning the elections!” Nganga joked as he jumped out of the vehicle at Nkhumba.
“Why?” Chinkwenta asked, angrily.
“How can you fill a national party with people from the same place. We have criticised other parties for sidelining some people and some areas of this federation of independent tribes and concentrating too much power in one person. But UTM has done exactly that,” Abiti said.
“Politics as usual,” Jean-Philippe said, “do you know that dictators are the most admired leaders, even by self-styled democrats?” n