We, meaning Native Authority Mandela, Sheikh Jean-Philippe LePoisson, SC, Abiti Joyce Befu, MG 66 and I, had to change our travel plans at the last minute. We had planned to travel from our comfortable seat at Monkey Bay to Mangochi Boma to protest the uncalled for, politically motivated confiscation and illegal keeping of public property by a group of otherwise peaceful and peace-loving religious Malawians. We planned to sit peacefully somewhere in Mangochi, dressed in red, Malawi’s colour of protest, until MBC cameras were returned to the MBC and an apology was issued to ZBS for the beating the station’s reporter suffered. We were ready and we still are ready to be there until May 20, 2014. MG 66 had even asked for a two-week leave from her Monkey Bay Peoples’ shop to be with us.
We should, however, not be confused with supporters of MBC’s bad, or call it, biased journalism. We actually almost abandoned the vigil because MG 66 was of the view that MBC was paying for its crimes, particularly at this time of the political calendar. Sheikh Jean-Philippe convinced MG 66 on the importance of ensuring that MBC has the material it needs to execute its mandate so that lack of cameras should not be used as a further excuse for mediocrity, bias and bad performance.
We were about to leave when we heard an announcement on the radio that the MBC cameras had been peacefully handed back to the broadcaster.
“But we can still go and protest?” Native Authority Mandela suggested.
“Against what?” MG 66 asked.
“For the peaceful handing back of the cameras. Protests are not just about negative things,” NA Mandela reasoned.
“That will be tantamount to glorifying crime,” MG 66 maintained.
“Since we are already packed for Mangochi, I suggest we get there,” Sheikh Jean-Philippe suggested.
“Reasonable suggestion. It’s actually time we went to see other areas,” I said.
“Will you bring me back?”MG 66 wanted to find out.
“The choice is yours. You can stay with us. Or you can come back by road, lake or air,” I joked.
“Monkey Bay used to have an airfield. But today it has been parceled out into football pitches,”NA Mandela commented.
“What do you need an airfield for when Air Malawi has no plane to fly? When even the presidential jet has been sold?” MG 66 wondered.
“By the way, how safe are we with all our ports and ships let out to foreigners? How can we be sure about the goods our private partners are ferrying using our ships?” NA Mandela asked. Nobody answered the question.
We left Monkey Bay around noon with a planned stop at Sunny Sand Holiday Reserve for lunch and a boat ride to Bird Island. As we drove southwards, the noon heat bombarded us wave after wave. So, I switched on the air conditioner. As we approached Nkope, all my passengers fell asleep. To wake them up I turned the car stereo on and slotted in the Galang’ombe Boys CD. I searcher for Kulongolola and raised the volume.
“What’s that for?” Sheikh Sheikh Jean-Philippe shouted as he woke up from his slumber.
“It’s market day. Look outside,” NA Mandela said.
“Wow. Can we take a serious look at that?” Sheikh Jean-Philippe prayed.
I slowed down the vehicle and parked in a safe shady place. Then, we all left and went to the interior of the open roadside flea market.
“This is looks like used underwear!”Sheikh Jean-Philippe said loudly, pointing at an assortment of brassieres, petticoats and bikinis.
“You don’t have to shout!”I said.
“But that’s what we can afford,” MG 66 said.
“I have no objection against anyone buying secondhand clothing,” Sheikh Jean-Philippe said, “but I shudder at the thought of someone, like MG 66 here, wearing used underwear. Surely your government must regulate the kaunjika business.”