If you are an ardent radio listener, then the name Mikoko should ring a bell. If not, then here is what it is: the only radio program that mixes satire and drama on MIJ FM.
While it might be the second satirical radio programme after MBC’s Makiyolobasi and with subtle similarities, Mikoko is different as no famous person is free from going under the knife of the two hosts Mlauzi, real name Innocent Mphongolo, and Che Nkope, born Nicolas Mbonela.
“Mikoko is a Chichewa name for the wise elderly in a community particularly the village. These people are consulted on various issues affecting people in the community. This is why we related that to the programme as we tackle various issues affecting our day to day life ranging from politics to love.
“The programme started accidentally one day during a night shift. It happened that I was supposed to cover up for a programme which was not there as the presenter and producer failed to log a new edition. That’s when I called upon my colleague to co-present with me the untitled impromptu programme where we tackled love issues. The way we did it impressed many people including the bosses and it became a routine,” explains Mbonela.
The programme started about five years ago and comes every Thursday evening from 8:10pm and is regarded as a court that examines issues affecting the society ranging from love to politics.
After some editions without a name, the duo came up with Mikoko as the trademark. One interesting feature of the programme is that it is unscripted, a break from broadcasting guidelines. Again, the two do not meet to liaise what to discuss.
“We later decided to give it a name and it happened automatically. We don’t write a script although we admit it is unprofessional, there is a saying that, ‘the end justifies means’, so the outcome becomes upbeat that way. We had been having problems with our bosses over the lack of script but they eventually understood us,” says Mbonela.
Adds Mlauzi: “People think it’s all jokes anywhere but it’s not like that. We do where necessary and we are sober whenever presenting that programme.”
With several political developments taking place in Malawi, coupled with how overzealous some politicians are; one would be obliged to suspect that the two politicians have been threatened.
“We have been threatened left, right and centre, more especially from politicians who believe we are bought. Interestingly all, political parties believe we are bought but we are nonpartisan. The good thing is, we do not mention names of those we are satirising,” affirms Mlauzi.
Mbonela adds: “We even received death threats especially during the DPP regime after the death of Polytechnic student Robert Chasowa. We satirically made mention of that and we were told that we would be dealt with like Chasowa. That is just one of the numerous threats. We never mention names and we don’t aim at denting peoples images but we play a watchdog role. Some people change and we appreciate because they confront us while others take it personally.”
One thing that has made the programme popular is the comic character, Nancy Maphwanya a comic voice which remains an enigma. She plays the role of Che Nkope’s supposed girlfriend.
With Mikoko, Mphongolo and Mbonera are dreaming big by conducting some social responsibility activities among others.
“We have already established a radio listenership club for Mikoko called, Friends of Mikoko which we will among others engage in charity works and social responsibilities such as donating to the needy and cleaning health facilities. So far, the group has over 300 registered members,” explains Mbonela.
“My dream for Mikokois for us to grow big so as to be holding shows where people can enjoy our talent. We believe it will be a good move as it will enhance our interaction with our fans,” adds Mphongolo.
A fourth year business communication student at the Polytechnic, Mbonela developed interest in radio at a tender age.
He recalls: “I used to self record my presentations while mimicking the likes of Patrick Mphaka, the late Thom Chisuse and Steve Liwewe Banda just to mention a few.
“I was at often times in trouble with my family for recording over audio tapes they were buying. I then joined Funline mix at MBC where Steve Liwewe Banda was coincidentally my supervisor.
“I am a journalist to the bone and I enjoy my work. My family told me to pursue accounting which I quit due to my passion for journalism,” he says.
Mbonela adds: “My interest started when I was in primary school when my mum was buying newspapers which I was reading page by page. I was asking myself a lot of questions and then I told myself one day I want to write as well. That spurred me to pursue journalism at MIJ before proceeding to Poly.”