aturday, 24 November 2018. The sun had completely tucked itself into the yellow jacket of the sky, bidding farewell to a day’s long sojourn.
I had visited my people in the beautiful lake district of Mangochi in the company of three—my wife, her sister and my two-year-old daughter. Now, the mission was to get home to Lilongwe as quickly as it was safe.
It was a rush against time and I was busy trying to negotiate up the terrifying and meandering Golomoti-Masasa stretch, commonly known as Khwekhwerere, without harm.
A few sharp turns up the escarpment,I saw a group of women metres away, clad in chitenje uniform and scattered around in utter helplessness.
Under the probing light of my noisy old car’s headlamps, I made out a vehicle in the opposite direction had failed to negotiate the bend, and ended up straight into a drain half its height.
My experiences driving under the cover of dark—two of them lucky escapes under the noose of thugs trapping motorists by obstructing the Lilongwe-Blantyre Road with stones and logs— I was convinced the best was to drive past.
After all, the gathering around the spot looked large enough to sort out whatever problem there was.
I looked at the precious faces of my passengers seats and resisted any temptation to trade them for charity.
But then, a few metres on, I imagined what sort of trouble the group of largely women was going through in this sparsely inhabited and travelled patch of earth.
My careful look of a surgeon made out a few more cars parked by the road some 20 metres away. I stopped and joined in.
The journalist in me soon gathered from the women that the trapped vehicle was among a procession negotiating down the escarpment for a donation of maize flour to the old and poor.
“Ma Burundi awa! Tiwathandize atigaire kangachepe!’ [the owner of the vehicle are Burundi nationals! We must help them for some cash in return!],” said one guy excitedly alighting from a vehicle nearby.
He sensed my unease.
Was his mind on the money because the people involved were foreigners or that he was just never to get involved in any laborious task for no penny.
Whichever way, it was a bit ‘not Malawian.’
“Amwene,ndiye bwezi madokotala ndi maloya akugwira yauleletu![if charity counted, doctors and lawyers wouldn’t expect any pay!],” he reasoned.
He had many supporters among the crowd. Nonetheless, there will always be true Samaritans and the job was soon underway.
It was a back-breaking job, yes! Heads rolled as much as palms blistered. But in the end, the vehicle was trawled out of the ditch!
The owners now figured out what to do with two burst front tryres, at least a great deal of their fix was dealt with.
I examined myself in the illumination of the passing vehicles. I was a filthy lot, but feeling much decent inside for helping others out in their time of need.
That Saturday night, I wondered about people who always cashout of others’ predicaments.
I hope that on Sunday, as the Black Missionaries remembered in song their band’s founder Late Evison Matafale, they played Yang’ana Nkhope.
- Gogo wanga adandiuza,
- Kalekale kunali chikondi,
- Pakati pa anthu akuda,
- Mmenemo mzungu asanabwere
- Tinkayenda ati maulendo
- Kumakafika kutalitali,
- Gonani pano musaoloke,
- Kunjaku kwada komanso mikango
- Munthu osamum’dziwa ameneyo,
- Chikondi cha anthu wakuda!
- Yang’ana nkhope yanga
- Yang’ana nkhope yako
- Yang’ana nkhope za wena,
- Tifanana ndi mlengi!
When humanity, and not nationality, race or creed, counted.Strangershelping strangers without any strings attached! Matafale lives on! n