Our leader of delegation, Abiti Joyce, MG 66; the Most Excellent Grand Achiever or MEGA-1, is angry not because we are still here at Bwengu, in the ever neat Bazale Nyirenda village, Traditional Authority Jaravikuba, in uMzimba but for something else.
Before she disclosed the source of her anger, we were forced to guess that she was angry because of Rev Maurice Munthali’s long political prayer in which he blamed the incompetent and unqualified driver of this secondhand minibus called the Federal Republic of Malawi. In that prayer, the pastor politician rightly, to some extent, intimated that floods due to heavy rains are natural but they can be mitigated, and in some cases, prevented if Malawi properly planned and budgeted for them.
The fact that the Meteorological Department gives us the weather briefs and warnings on a daily basis is proof enough that we have the skills to predict and forecast some natural disasters, mostly floods and dry spells, and even diseases like cholera.
However, according to the reverend politician, the driver of this secondhand minibus is sleeping on the job and unless he or she wakes up in good time to take charge, the secondhand minibus will plunge into the Njakwa ravine, killing all Malawians. If he or she does not wake up, the pastor politician emphasized, God should soon give Malawi a new driver with a fresh and valid passenger vehicle driver’s license.
We were wrong. Our leader was not perturbed by that.
We guessed that our leader of delegation was angry with the fake advertisements that claimed that Malawi had 4.5G Internet all over. One of the silliest pro-urban biases is evident here at Bwengu and the environs.
The fiber cable that takes the Internet from the Indian Ocean through Tanzania to Mzuzu, Lilongwe and Blantyre passes through Bwengu but this beautiful village has extremely poor Internet connectivity. Yet, we expect the people of Bwengu and other areas to take good care of the fiber cable!
While in urban centres, mobile telephone and hence internet carrier tower jostle for space, in rural areas including Bwengu, where we are, towers could be as far apart as 10 kilometres. To call hyena a hyena, the service here is very, very, very poor indeed. Whatever happened to the Last Mile Dream!
“What is the Last Mile?” Abiti asked, a smile beaming on her face like the break of a new day.
“It’s the worldwide dream to connect everyone to the internet. The West or first world has had its full share. The second world has had two thirds of its share. Even in the so-called third world, the urban has had its good share. Thus, the village, the countryside, particularly in Africa is the Last Mile to reach with communication facilities,” I, Malawi’s only Mohashoi, explained.
“And why do they call it the Last Mile and not the Last Kilometre?” MG 66 inquired jocundly.
“Because the British and the Americans don’t believe in the metric system. It’s like succumbing to the French and Europeans. But let’s ask Macra,” joked Nganga Maigwaigwa, PSC (RTD).
“But I still want to know why you don’t look happy,” asked the Most Paramount Traditional Authority Mzee Mandela.
“It’s something Peter Mutharika shouldn’t smile about; Lexton Kachama must be angry about; Edge Kanyongolo, Ralph Kasambara, Emmie Chanika, Emma Kaliya, Wiseman Chirwa and Zimani Kadzamira and all other veteran human rights campaigners and defenders will be shocked to hear. Two decades of human rights and gender equality education have come to nil…”
“Listen very hard, lady,” started Mukeme Alhajj Mufti Jean-Philippe LePoisson, SC (RTD), “just tell us your problem or shut up!” You can’t keep us guessing!”
“Okay. Someone whatsapped me this song,” MG 66 said, fiddling with her Mose wa Lero tablet. She played it. Musician rapped,
‘Ndinayamba kale kukusilira/Koma umathawathawa
‘Ndidza*****e/Pakamwa ndidzakumata Tape!’
“Good beat; nice rhythm,” Jean-Philippe commended.
“But the content is terrible,” said Nganga, “this is a call to rape women! In Malawi, incitement to rape is a serious crime. This so-called musician ought to pay for it. I am out on duty!”
“But you are retired,” Jean-Philippe said.
“I am retiring from retirement,” Nganga said as he walked to the car to pack his bags.