Flames coach Kinnah Phiri gave me reason to laugh recently when he made it clear that he would persuade striker Gabadinho Mhango to skip terminal exams to join the Flames for the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup.
As I spoke to Kinnah on the phone, I could not help but laugh my lungs out when he said: â€œSimayeso yeni-yeni iyayi, kaya ndi a weekly, kaya ndi a mock kaya! [It is not a proper examination, I am not sure whether it is weekly or mock examination], but I expect him to come and join the squad,â€ said Kinnah.
He instantly reminded me of a man called Ambewe who was my neighbour over 30 years ago in Mandala where he worked as a cook for a Briton called Sam Jones. Mbewe had a son he fondly called â€˜Gorillaâ€™ who was my good friend in that age of innocence.
â€˜Gorillaâ€™ was the most vigorous and active fella out of his 10 other siblings and his papa was proud of his exploitsâ€”now he could be hunting mice and then next he would be taking an aim at birds using his catapult.
I remember he repeated Standard 2 at Catholic Institute (CI) Primary School well over four timesâ€”that even his sister Mary, who was five years younger, caught up and even left him behind. And that he got a â€˜may tryâ€™ in Standard 3 was because his class teacher had seen enough of him in that class.
Apparently, the father did not give a damn about his poor performance in class. To him, all that mattered was his sonâ€™s ability with a catapult to kill countless birds that he would bring home to supplement relish and his proud father would proudly boast: â€˜Gorilla! Ana amuna bambo!â€Â
Sometimes, when it was time to sit for examination, Mbewe would persuade his son to skip school and go for hunting, saying: â€˜Mayeso uzalembabe Gorilla, kasakeni kaye ndiwo!
The recent issue of Kinnah and â€˜Gabaâ€™ reminded me of my good friend â€˜Gorilla and his papa.
But on a serious note, perhaps Kinnah needs to recall that when he was a student at Chaminade Secondary School in the 1970s, Bata Bullets would fly him from Karonga to Blantyre and back so that he could not miss lessons. So, why then should it be different with â€˜Gabaâ€™?
Those were days when he was known as a supremely-gifted marksman and I am reliably informed that during one of his trips by air, Kinnah asked an air hostess in his trademark Tumbuka accent: â€œKodi bwanji mumangogawa tokhwasula-khwasula iti? Palibe sima ya kondowole na tisomba ta chukuchuku na chigwada?â€
Â To God be the glory ! Uloliwe.. uloliwe wayidudula hi..nangâ€™esiza! [the train is pushing!]