After visiting Chitipi in Lilongwe, we decided to proceed to Chikwawa on the road to Mchinji to spend a few hours there and buy some cabbages, tomatoes and all those green things people diagnosed with heart problems eat.
When we got there, we decided to visit a barber shop first because Alhajj Mufti Jean-Philippe’s head and chin were due for a deep clean laundry.
We went into Uncle Jo’s barber shop. We sat down on bench facing a huge mirror that covered the entire length, height and width of the small barber shop. The other walls were full of political slogans. One read: Chilima for 2019, nkhalamba zikagwere. Another one went: Presidenti sakalamba, Apita omweo; Ana Achepa. Yet another cried: Prof. Dr. Chakwera, ndi boma kale.
“Who is first?”asked the barber, a youngish man, wearing a goatee and tinted hair. He had put on matching red trousers and a half unbuttoned short sleeved shirt that revealed his hirsute chest.
“My friend, I am the only one in need of a shave,” Jean-Philippe said as he went and sat on barber’s chair like a condemned prisoner waiting for the gallows.
“What style do you prefer, Sir?” asked the barber.
“I don’t know,” Jean-Philippe said.
“You want Kamuzu Cut, Bin Laden, Police or Table cut?” the barber offered.
“Can you explain the style look like?”Jean-Philippe asked, timidly.
“Kamuzu Cut means I will deep-shave all your hair, including eye lashes. If you opt for Bin Laden, I will shave your head including eye lashes and moustache but I will trim your beard to look like Osama Bin Laden. With police or table cut, you will get a clean chin; you will have no moustache and I will shave around the lower side of your head and create a table on your head,” the barber explained.
“What do you suggest?” Jean-Philippe asked, turning towards us for assistance.
“Bin Laden is what modern middle aged urban men go for. It is the in-thing. Kamuzu Cut is for old men who hide their age while Police or table cut is for common people, including footballers, spies and private security personnel. I will give you a perfect Bin Laden,” the barber suggested.
“No. I don’t want to be counted as one of the latest converts. Neither do I want to look like a police officer or footballer. I will go for Kamuzu Cut,” Jean-Philippe said.
As the barber went about his job, we sat quietly listening to the whining of the electric shaver. Then, a rather larger than usual young man came into the door virtually eclipsing the sunligh in the room.
“Yes, Biggie, respect,” the barber saluted.
“Yes, Smallie, I will come after you get through with these guys,” Biggie said as he stepped outside the room.
“Have you heard, Biggie? MPs want to give MBC K1.00 in this year’s budget,” the barber said.
“They are just wasting their precious time,” Biggie said unfazed about our presence in the room.
“Why, Biggie? MBC is too biased against us,” the barber said as he tilted Jean-Philippe’s head upwards to shave the fine parts of his neck.
“We don’t need MBC to win elections and in the history of elections in this nobody has ever won or lost an election because of MBC. Check, ” Biggie challenged.
“Don’t you think some weak-minded people might be swayed by the propaganda from there?” the barber asked.
“There are no weak minded voters. People decide whom to vote for in the next election as soon one election is concluded,” Biggie said.
“With Chilima in the game, things will change,” the barber said as he took a bath towel, dipped it in some medicated water and started wiping Jean-Philippe’s head.
“Chilima will get the vote of his supporters; Chakwera will get his; Mutharika will also get his traditional supporters, etc,” Biggie said, adding, “as usual, the eventual winner will be elected by the Electoral Commission!”
“Mwatero, Biggie?” the barber asked.
“Above all, whether MPs officially fund MBC or not, MBC can never shut down. It will make money from advertising and get undercover funding from the government. Have you forgotten how MBC survived the last K1.00 funding year?”