“Madzi akatayika sawoleka”
My journey has been a long one and at some points very tiring, disappointing to the point of losing all hope but you always have that inner voice that keeps telling you “it’s ok mama, someone nice will come along someday and you too will be happy.” I’ve been singing that song now for more than three decades with no luck in sight, well maybe some slight chance that this may be it but I’m here to talk about my not so exciting experience not too long ago. My experience involved a blank CD. Yes, you heard me right “A BLANK CD!!”
In my quest for happiness I have met the ruffians, gentlemen who failed to live up to that term, liars and cheats who came bearing gifts and sweet nothings. This one was no exception. Imagine my excitement as I told a friend of mine about this new guy and how he was going to do x, y and z for me, for us so we could grow as a couple. My friend listened quietly and it wasn’t until I mentioned the name that he got skeptical about the guy I was talking about and asked me if he lived with anyone by any chance. For those of you who are wondering why such a question came about I’ll explain. We in the western world find it cheaper to live with roommates to share in expenses but this was not why he was asking. He meant a woman/lover not a roommate. Ofcourse I had no way of knowing since I had never visited him in his home. To cut a long story short, he had called the man’s home and some girl had answered his phone. He asked me if it was ok for him to ask around because he did not want to see me hurt yet again.
After a week of waiting patiently I received the dreaded phone call and it is where I get the title for this piece you are reading now. “Asisi (sister) how are you?” I answered him politely and told him to cut to the chase and please tell me what was going on. He asked me if I had ever seen a blank CD. “Ofcourse I have, what kind of question is that?” I asked. Then he said to me “When you are a DJ and someone gives you a blank CD you want to show you skills by burning nothing but the best music on it so that when the people listen to it they should be wowed. You my friend are a blank CD. You have kept yourself all these years without spoiling your image. Let me explain. You are a single woman past thirty years of age, financially stable, never been married or lived with a man, no children. It would be insane for you to go with this man because with the kind of life he is living, the baggage he brings along with him into this relationship will be the one thing that will mess up the CD. All he will do is burn bad songs to the CD (like a bad DJ), adzangoyikandakanda basi ( he will just scratch it) and in so doing no one will be able to burn a good playlist to your CD when he is done with you. Please wait for the right man to come along so he can do a better job than this one will.” I thanked him and politely let go of the one with his extra baggage. Down the road I realise my friend was right and I wish all people had friends like him. This is where my life experience ends and I now talk about my other love. Mai Malawi.
All life experiences are somewhat interlinked in one way or another. My life would have been like Malawi had I not taken my friend’s advice and dumped the “bad DJ.” Malawi didn’t exactly start of like a blank CD but was close. When Kamuzu Banda became president in 1964 after independence there were some infrastructures already in place. Inspite of some of the mistakes he made it is only fair to say that he was a not so bad DJ. During the years that he governed and even though we were oppressed due to a lack of freedom of press, some issues with academic freedom since he controlled the courses that were being offered at the Universities and that his youth leaguers terrorized people.
Some tarmac roads would later be constructed throughout the country. Back then life was good. Most of the roads in the cities are in good shape courtesy of the Japanese. His Excellency would also go on to build the railroad to Beira and Nacala to transport goods to and from Mozambique. Malawi happens to be a landlocked country so this worked out good for us being that it is a cheap way of shipping in and out goods. However, due to the war in Mozambique this would come to and end. Being the smart leader that he was, a solution was found in the form of the Northern corridor connecting us to the seaport in Dar El Salem. This means of transportation however is very expensive compared to using the railroads.
Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital which happens to be the largest hospital in the country was constructed by the british in the 1950’s and was officially opened by the Queen Mother in 1957. Initially a 300 bed facility it has now grown to a 1100 bed facility with the addition of the Gogo Chatinkha Maternity Wing, the Lepra Department and the Eye Department. Delamere House used to be the tallest building but now there are tall building all over town. In the last years of his reign Kamuzu had all the old rusty buildings demolished because they were a sight for sore eyes and dangerous structures to be conducting business in.
There was a time when we used to partake in the global market, when it paid to be a farmer. Tobacco was the cash crop. Tea was another. A time when we used to grow enough Maize for personal consumption and to sell some it to the neighbouring countries. The president and his advisors came up with the idea of building silos to store the surplus for hard times kinda like in the story of the smart grasshopper. He was the responsible leader, the caring father who always said “food first leaking houses later.” Whatever the case he tried to do what he could. Though he was a good leader who found solutions for everything, times were hard times because people still lived in fear. Sadly over a decade after introducing democracy into the country people are once again living in fear.
1994 Democracy found a home in Malawi and slowly started settling down. Everything seemed promising but this is the time when the DJ’s changed and instead of having the best DJ for the CD, in came the down grade of an amateur DJ. He was not the best but he was in a way likable. He could spin some records but never like the pro. The CD started being abused. By this I mean it was over played, not well taken care of, the equipment it was placed in was not the best for the CD, everyone got a hold of it and pretty much got it dirty with a few scratches here and there but still it was something you could listen to after all that wear and tear. A whole decade would pass under the leadership of Muluzi and no maintenance or careful handling of the CD was done.
2004 brought in the economical DJ. Just like the man who my friend had warned me about, this one would come looking all fly and promising this that and the other. Malawi should have known from the way he talked that he would be a disappointment. He lied and abused her only to later throw her away when he was done using her. But like the lady in love she fell for the lies and went ahead refusing to listen to the warnings from the COMESA report that he had been fired for financial mismanagement and failure to work well with others. Red flag was not warning enough for her so in came the DJ. Instead of restoring the CD or trying to carry out some sort of maintenance he did the unthinkable. Anangoyikandakanda CD.
As a result what you have now is a messed up CD, yokandika kwambiri! The roads that Kamuzu left are now full of potholes. One would worry but why should they when they can’t drive on the roads due to shortage of fuel? The government has boldly told people to get used to the problem. Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital the biggest one in the country now goes for days without running water and when management was asked about it even they couldn’t give a reason why this was so. Medicines are scarce that people have now resorted to going to private hospitals. Electricity outages are all over the country. Forex is something people have stopped talking about because the banks don’t have it. Structures and proper planning was not done to accommodate both population and economic growth. This is like a case where the DJ didn’t plan ahead of time in anticipation of a huge crowd turning up and now there’s no room on the dance floor for everyone.
We are now confronted with a messed up CD beyond repair. The songs are not enjoyable and more like the electricity outages to the point you might as well not listen to it at all. The DJ can’t redeem himself because he can’t even come up with a CD with the kind of music that was on the original which has now been tossed away and replaced by a fake one from China. Although some burned copies have been floating around everyone knows they aren’t the original. One can spot an original leader from afar and like the saying goes “zinthu zina umabadwa nazo” which means there are some gifts you are just born with, no special training required. It was evident from his being fired from COMESA and the report that followed thereafter that he was not born a leader. The country just like the CD has gone to the dogs with no hope of survival in sight, atleast not under his leadership.
As painful as it has been watching these DJ’s messing up a good CD Malawi has learnt to forgive but not forget so as the saying goes “madzi akatayika sawoleka” (let bygones be bygones) she too will let it go. The lessons she will take along with her are that this time when the auditions come around she will spend more time checking out the skills of these DJ’s so as not to end up with a copy cat who will just help pile on more problems to the already existing ones. What she needs is someone who knows how to take us back to economic glory, eradicate poverty, reinstitute freedoms needed for Democracy to prevail. It’s like the DJ who can spin the wheel, come up with a good playlist with only the best songs so that when people get on that dance floor they will know that they are in the presence of the best DJ ever and will freely and happily dance the hours away knowing that a good time will be had by all….