We delayed our departure from Mchinji because Julia, that business lady who took us to Ndawambe Village, asked us to wait for her so that she could accompany us to Lilongwe.Â Julia said she needed to buy farm inputs and leave with her workers for her maize field near Kamwendo.
So, we spent the waiting time first at the St Andrews Hotel reading newspapers and later at the Shabeen eating chips mayaya and drinking the latest beer in the world.Â
â€œWhere did you get this?â€ Jean-Philippe asked the barman as soon as he sipped the latest beer in the world.
â€œMy uncle sent us five six-packs from Scotland just to test them out here,â€ the barman said.
â€œThis is deadly!â€
â€œIt is tastier than Kadansana but more prestigious!â€
â€œPrestigious?Â Yes. But at 65 percentÂ alcohol, this is real Armageddon!â€
Jean-Philippe asked the barman to give him the remainder of the pack.Â We went to sit under the shade ofÂ mango tree within the Shabeen yard.
â€œThere are certain things, events, and people I donâ€™t understand,â€ Jean-Philippe began.Â â€œI donâ€™tâ€™ understand how a political party can switch sides in Parliament three times in three hours. And why are Malawians so quiet about it?â€
I did not answer him because I knew Amargeddon was working. He then asked me why some Malawian academic analysts and lay commentators made declarative statements about serious issues without citing any research findings.Â I still did not answer him. He then asked me why Nalia, that young ever smiling waitress at St Andrews Hotel in Mchinji, sobbed when we bid her au-revoir.
â€œIn training those girls and boys are taught not to over-befriend their clients,â€ I answered.
â€œWhat are you implying?â€
â€œThat you were more than a client to her. You sounded like a suitor each time you talked to her.â€
â€œAnd she took that seriously? Well â€˜the tears of the world are a constant quantity. For each one who begins to weep, somewhere else another stopsâ€™â€.
â€œThat must be Samuel Beckett.â€
Around 3pm Julia called to find out where we were. I gave her directions to the Shabeen.Â Within minutes, she emerged, accompanied by five boys carrying cartons.
â€œHi baby!â€ Jean-Philippe greeted Julia.
â€œHi!â€ Julia answered before whispering to me: â€œNa imwe, wanzanu wokolwa. What beer is he drinking to look so drunk already?â€
â€œWhat is in those cartons?â€ I asked, changing topics.
â€œThis is Harness.Â This is Roundup. This is the NK 603 hybrid maize seed,â€ Julia said as she pulled from the cartons one sample item after another.
â€œWhy do you use Roundup in your maize?â€ I asked.
â€œIt is recommended in conservation agriculture because you donâ€™t need to weed the maize garden.â€
â€œSounds good. But do you know that worldwide that herbicide is associated with a lot of negative side effects, including cancers and male impotence?â€
â€œAbove all Roundup means the maize itself is Roundup ready,â€ Jean-Philippe said, dizzily.
â€œI donâ€™t understand. Nobody has told farmers the side effects of this herbicide,â€ Julia said.
â€œThe manufacturers of that herbicide have genetically modified their maize seed to withstand their herbicide.â€
â€œIn short Roundup means GMO maize.â€
â€œThatâ€™s why France and Russia have banned that type of maize!â€ Jean-Philippe said.