You name it, Ndirande has it all. If you want it, they will give it to you day or night. Call for it, someone will bring it to you if you can pay for it.
Such is the ceaseless rush for money in probably the busiest township in Blantyre that residents proudly quip that even aeroplane spares are available on demand.
From Ma Flats to Goliyo, the buzzing, populous township is clearly distinct.
Our first stop is Pa Corner near a whitish, time-honoured, imposing home of the late James Frederick Sangala, the nationalist on the K100 note. This is where founding president Hastings Kamuzu Banda spent his comeback night on July 6 1958, says Davis Daud, 74.
Sangala’s wife, Jethro, corroborates the story of ndirande’s first house with iron sheets.
In the vicinity is Ndirande Market, the heart of the township where crowds clog the streets as they chase money. Around the clock, processions of walkers march up to Safarawo, others down Goliyo, up Makata and down Chinseu.
In the thick of things, everyone is doing something. Some perch in shops, others sell assorted goods by the roadside and yet others sell what is not theirs.
Throughout, the sounds of hammers thrashing out pails, lamps, pots, toys and dimpled car bodies offer an immutable soundtrack to the heartbeat of Ndirande.
Small-scale businesses mushrooming on the roadside—carpentry and joinery, tyre fitting, welding and metal fabrication, timber making, coffin shops and tinsmiths—mirror the town’s enduring spirit of entrepreneurship.
Their business ingenuity is evident as they turn scrap yards into goldmines.
“Whatever you want, we have it here,” brags Twaha Amidu, 34. “We have gifted mechanics and panel beaters who churn out wheelbarrows, parts of grinding, hoes, steel doors and window frames and television stands.”
Across a ground dotted with minibuses, lorries and taxis, a riot erupted which led colonial forces to arrest Kamuzu on March 3 1959.
From the historic spot, Ndirande Mountain, which inspired novelist Aubrey Kalitera to write To Ndirande Mountain with Love, can be seem. The bare massif stands aloft like a guardian watching over the township.
Nasolo River runs between Makata and Safarawo, meandering past Ndirande Market which hardly ever snores.
According to businessperson Karim Fatch, the busy market started at Chinseu, one-and-a half kilometres away.
“It was shifted to this site in 1971. Two years later, Blantyre City Council built a shade and offices,” he explains.
The market is a hive of activity where nothing is impossible with the brains that make business tick. Impossibilities take them just a little longer.
If you cannot find what you desperately want, it will be locked up somewhere in the township nicknamed Ndix or Ndixville.
According to Ndirande vendors committee vice-chairperson Ernest Bwanali, Ndix has almost “everything you want” because of its proximity to factories and traders’ tendency to buy anything that comes their way.
“Vendors just buy anything even when they don’t know when and where they will sell. We store what we buy because we see money where others see litter,” he says.
The market is home to numerous hardware shops which stock spare parts of various vehicles. Are you in trouble? In Ndirande, it will just a few minutes to get what you want. Equally reliable is Chinseu, the home of renowned musician Sally Nyundo, where pubs abound.
This town never sleeps. As people drink and make merry till dawn, some perch in pubs and verandas to buy or sell things that make Ndirande a go-to place.
And they say Ndirande is not just a town, but a lifestyle and a political barometer. Legend has it that no party wins a vital election if it cannot win hearts and sway votes in Ndixville.