We, Sheikh Jean-Philippe LePoisson, Abiti Joyce Befu, MG 66, Native Authority Mandela and I, left Monkey Bay and followed the presidential campaign to Mzuzu, the capital city of the most ignored region in Malawi.
After attending the launch of the PP manifesto in the rain-drenched Mzuzu stadium, we went to check in at Chindele Chakufikapo Lodge. In the evening, we drove out to Kagwenthagwentha Night Club, some five kilometres along the Mzuzu-Kasungu highway.
When we got there, we asked the barman to give us our usual drinks. Abiti Joyce and Native Authority Mandela asked for Amalaulitsa on the rocks while Sheikh Jean-Philippe and I asked for Mzuzu Dry Gin.
“With ice, Sir?” The barman asked.
“Make it double on the rocks,” Sheikh Jean-Philippe said.
“Same for me,” I said.
The barman brought the drinks and went to his counter, took the remote control and switched on the TV. MBC was rebroadcasting the speech the President had made earlier in the day.
“Will MBC ever change?” Abiti Joyce Befu wondered.
“Change from what to what?” Sheikh Jean-Philippe asked.
“I mean, MBC should also feature the opposition. Every day, Joyce Banda, PP, Yamuka. I thought she just said what they are showing there this afternoon. Why repeat?” Abiti explained.
“But only yesterday, they featured the Umodzi Party; the other day they featured Chipani cha Pfuko…” the barman explained.
“MBC should be featuring the major opposition political parties,” Abiti went on.
“There is no opposition party at present. Since Parliament was dissolved there is no ruling party; no opposition. All the parties have the same status,” the barman said.
“Are you also orange?” Abiti asked, sounding rather frustrated.
“Not necessarily, madame. I only have problems understanding your problem. The parties you lavishly call major opposition parties were in Parliament and they never wanted to change the rules and laws that govern the operations of MBC. Today, they are crying for fair coverage. Why should we sympathise with them?”
Abiti Joyce Befu withdrew from the argument to concentrate on her glass of Amalaulitsa. Sheikh Jean-Philippe asked for another set of drinks. He asked the barman if he had pork fillet.
“You eat pork, Sir?” The barman wondered loudly.
“Yeah. Why not?” Sheikh Jean-Philippe answered.
“His Sheikhhood is honourary,” Native Authority Mandela responded, jokingly.
The barman came back with the drinks. He went back and disappeared into the backroom, which we thought acted as the kitchen. Minutes later he came back with a plateful of pork fillet and ganda, that fatty hard pig skin.
“I like ganda,” Abiti said.
“Every part of a pig is nice. Even the bones are nice. The intestines, too, are nice. The skull, eyes, ears, and the trotters, pig mang’ina taste nice. The mouth and nose are succulent. Everything in a pig is edible!” I remarked.
“You should become a pork advertisement agent!”Jean-Philippe said.
We ate and drank in silence. The barman asked us why the Northern Region was always treated third class.
“What makes you think that way?”I asked.
“Well. Everything starts either in Lilongwe or Blantyre. Look at political parties. They launched their manifestos in Blantyre and Lilongwe and lastly in Mzuzu. Shoprite opened its shops in Blantyre and Lilongwe and lastly in Mzuzu. University colleges were built in Lilongwe and Blantyre, and lastly in Mzuzu. GoTV was launched in Blantyre and Lilongwe and it lastly it will be in Mzuzu. You can only fly out of Malawi from Blantyre and Lilongwe and never from Mzuzu. But when it comes to sacrifices; everybody wants northerners to die for the country. Does that pattern not surprise you?”
I kept quiet. Jean-Philippe prodded me to answer, but I refused.
“Why don’t you want to answer his question?” Native Authority Mandela asked, adding: “The man has a genuine concern.”
Still, I kept quiet.
“For these political parties, mpoto is just a place for collecting votes; mbwenu. Nobody really cares about us. We are like a bottle top!” the barman said.