Mission accomplished. We went to Mangochi to nominate, assess and declare the Bottom Up man and woman of 2016. And we did. Actually, our choices impressed most right thinking people in this great federal republic, Malawi, our country.
Of course, some suggested that we should have also nominated Vincent Wandale, the supreme leader of the People’s Land Organisation and Party for his stand on issues of land. We noted the choice but Wandale would not have won because of his declaration that Thyolo and Mulanje are a separate state from the federal Republic of Malawi.
When we left Monkey Bay we decided to visit Cape Maclear to spend a few hours cavorting in the sand and diving into Lake Malawi, our beautiful fresh water lake.
“You know what?” Alhajj Mufti Jean-Philippe LePoisson, SC (RTD) asked.
“What?” I, Malawi’s only Mohashoi, responded to his prompting.
“Each time I come here, I feel like spending all my life here,” Jean-Philippe declared.
“The early Scottish Missionaries wanted to settle here but they were knocked down one by one until the rest fled northwards,” I said.
“The Yao armies fought them?”
“Not at all,” I said.
“They were gunned down by malaria,” the Most Paramount Native Authority Mzee Mandela shot in.
“But they should not have given up! By now, this place would have been developed like Livingstonia in Rumphi,” Abiti Joyce Befu, MG 66 said.
“Livingstonia is developed?” I wondered.
Nobody answered. We left the beach in the afternoon and drove to Namiasi, near Pambiche as Palm Beach Lodge is called locally. We stopped to greet our old friends and buy some latest paintings from Malawi’s accomplished self-taught abstract artist, John Mwantenga Phiri, popularly known as Jomwa. As we walked down to the Namiasi beach, we met Richard, an old acquaintance, who greeted us warmly and invited us to his home for afternoon tea.
“Tea?” Jean-Philippe protested, “Don’t you have something better?”
“Like Mangochi rum?” Abiti proposed.
“This is Mangochi and we, as Muslims, don’t take anything intoxicating!” Richard explained.
“Richard, the Muslim. We are not asking you to take anything intoxicating. It is us who want it and you will just be watching us take the rum,” I said.
“Don’t put me to the test!”Richard protested, laughing out like a minister implicated in both maizegate and tractorgate.
Instead of going to Richard’s house, we headed straight to the Namiasi Beach and sat under the shade of a summer hut built by the management of nearby lodge. Richard asked the waitress to serve us. I opted for fantakoko while my friends went for Mangochi rum on the rocks.
As we waited for the drinks, Richard asked us what we thought about the progress Malawi is making.
“Two steps forward twenty steps backwards,” Mzee Mandela said. “During the MCP and Kamuzu days, Malawi had airports in every district to promote tourism. During the same period, every key area in Malawi was served by public transport. In the cities, there were circular bus services that served residents every hour fourteen hours a day. Today, there are adults born in the 1990s that have never seen a bus; not even a mini bus….”
“Here in Mangochi, Air Malawi used to land at Club Makokola twice if not three times every week,” Richard lamented. “Tourists who could not afford a flight came to Mangochi by Express Bus or Coach. Someone, one of these past presidents promised to build an international Airport and a national stadium here in Mangochi to promote tourism ….”
“And what happened?”Jean-Philippe inquired.
“The Stadium went to Thyolo before someone else sent it to Lilongwe,” Richard answered before asking: Where is our airport, the Mangochi International Airport?”n