Our crowded market square in the outskirts of the city was hosting another busy lunch hour activity.
From the veranda of one shop, we looked out into the world in front of us. Kanteya, the old shoemaker, was tucked into his seat by the corner, busy stitching leather.
In no time, as expected every lunch hour, our market preacher walked into the picture and quickly got down to business.
Sellers of clothes competed at the highest decibels possible, trying to outwit each other on the stock they had befoe them.
At a nearby informal minibus rank, drivers honked as if to announce doomsday, polluting the air with a din that would cut the universe in half.
And in his corner, Bible in one hand and a walking stick in the other, the preacher, festooned in a white long robe, jumped up and down, his clean-shaven skull radiating from the blistering sun.
As he shouted into the skies, his beard—mostly the moustache—swept the air like a giant broom assigned to comb webs off the trickiest of corners.
The preacher on this day had paged into the New Testament and dwelt around Acts 9 vs 20 about a man called Eutychus who, sitting on a window sill and taken by sleep during as Apostle Paul was preaching, fell down three floors and was taken up dead.
He tied his reading to a tendency of people at the market square to wander into wonderland every time the preacher brings the day’s message.
To rub his message in, the preacher told of the ‘Eutychus of Today’—the man or woman who, in the middle of work or service slips into sleep.
‘M’malo moyendetsa banja, umuona bambo ali ku chibwenzi—limenelo ndi tulo ndipo udzafa!’
‘M’malo motumikira, uli pa mkonono, udzagwa!’
The preacher told of chiefs, teachers, tailors, ward councillors, husbands and even preachers who, in the middle of their expected or elected chores, slumber off the course.
He said the man or woman who lets sleeps steer them off focus shall soon fall off the biblical window sill, down the biblical three floors from off their current stand and be taken up ‘dead.’
It is then that the preacher threw himself to the ground to emphasise his ‘prophecy.’
The audience roared into so much laughter Kanteya the aged shoemaker woke up from his slumber, quickly wiping the corners of his mouth of the drool that took advantage of slump in guard.
The preacher went on.
Upon catching up with the wave of the atmosphere around him, Kanteya the old man was ‘furious.’
He waved his stitching tool in the air towards the preacher, warning against the preacher’s attack on the old man.
Kanteya swore to his gods he had not been sleeping!
The preacher went on.
Our appetite for sleep, either as individuals, communities or as a nation, is the loudest purveyor of our values.
We need to wake up and work, concluded the preacher!
Kanteya was now busy trying to prove he can be trusted to stich leather to perfection. n