The sunset of Monday caught me in the middle of pressures of life in a city 320 kilometres away from home. I was with my brothers busy finding our way to a nest where we could put our anxieties to rest for the night.
As we descended the Kanjedza accent, just getting into Chinyonga, we came across a scene that still disturbs me today as strongly as it did that night.
A few hundred metres ahead of us, the road was lined on both sides by up to about 50 cars.
Could it be an accident? That was a likely guess.
But as we got off our ramshackle and drew nearer, the loud cheers emanating from the cradle of the crowd suggested otherwise.
What would people cheer about an accident anyway?
Then voila! Two young men lay side by side on the edges of the embankment, like sausages in a tray on a supermarket shelf. They lay flat and naked, their swollen jaws and limbs testifying to the dense beating they had received.
Their upper regions were covered by a big tyre, probably from a lorry or other such big engines. Inside the tyre was a burning piece of cloth meant to pass on the flame to the hard rubber of the tyre.
Even from the open flame, the two silent souls underneath the tyre never winced or moved. They were slipping into the abyss of death.
‘Okagula petulo aja akuchedwanso bwanji!’
That was the jazz.
Getting closer to the ‘two objects’ on show, their lower naked regions were there for display. It was a sorry sight. But the drama with this life is that, for some, it made a good subject for pictures which filled the social media half an hour later.
Speculation was that the two guys ‘on show’ had tried to rob a lady of her handbag which had valuables and up to K40 000 in cash. Neither the woman nor any of the people that caught the ‘thieves’ was nowhere to corroborate that line or share a first-hand account.
So, some people took it for their main responsibility to sell the story to the new onlookers arriving by the minute.
Like at every of such events, some ‘brave’ guys whistled on, encouraging the crowd to beat the two bodies to pulp.
And like a ritual, those convinced by the ‘handbag story’ would pick up a stone the size of six ordinary bricks, lift it up above their heads with both hands and catapult it towards the motionless bodies. Bones cracked.
What killed me most was how even some people at the scene could park their car by the roadside, get out with children below 12, and seem to ‘enjoy the show’ like others do at a cinema.
What are we telling our kids? That mob justice is the real deal? Why train your kids this way?
There are better things to show your kids. Take them to drama shows or cinema houses. Even more hunt for Lilongwe, that picture which won an award at the recent ceremony in Nigeria! n