Jean-Philippe says fear is good. Fear is might. Fear is the beginning of wisdom. He believes the fearless fight to die while the fearful fight to live.
Jean-Philippe and I fear people who cry about the suffering of the poor rural people when in the yesteryear they presided over the praise of our falsified economic progress and food abundance. We fear telling them the truth because, we fear, they will follow our tracks.
Last week, Jean-Philippe asked me to take him to some real rural area because he was sick of listening and giving alms to people who idle their time away but complain about poverty. I chose Mchinji.
â€œHow far is it?â€
â€œOne hundred kilometres or so.â€
â€œDo we have enough fuel?â€
â€œThe needle is pointing at Enough.â€
â€œLetâ€™s go kwa Bwandilo to refill.â€
We drove to Bwandilo and bought something like 100 litres of petrol and set off for Mchinji. As we drove away from Lilongwe, the landscape changed. It was less dusty but windier. Verily, driving on the Lilongwe-Mchinji Highway can be satisfying. For more than twenty years, the Queenâ€™s Road has been solid despite the heavy traffic that pounds it daily.
â€œThis is Chikwawa. Open market day,â€ I told Jean-Philippe as we drove past the place.
â€œCan I take a photo?â€
I stopped the car. Jean-Philippe went right inside the crowd. I followed him. I found him busy trying out zitenje. The woman who was cajoling him into buying the cloths looked at me before tapping Jean-Philippe on the shoulder. He turned, saw me, smiled and started following me.
â€œBeautiful wrapping cloths! Yeah?â€ Jean-Philippe asked as he jumped into the car.
â€œThe women there told me these are good for making easy-to-wear shirts.â€
We drove on to the Namitete border post. There, a police officer checked our vehicle before asking me to ask the Jean-Philippe if he would accept to carry a business woman who was also headed to Mchinji. I did not even bother. I knew Jean-Philippeâ€™s tastes. So, I asked the lady to jump in.
â€œWhere are you going?â€ I asked.
â€œLudzi but mayilo nidzayenda kungâ€™anda, kwa Ndawambe.â€
I explained to Jean-Philippe that the lady was going home to Ludzi and the following day she would be going to Ndawambe Village.
â€œDo you know all those places?â€
â€œI am the map of Malawi.â€
At Kamwendo, the lady asked us if we wanted a drink. We accepted. I stopped and parked the car near a drinking joint. The woman bought the drinks.
â€œKamwendo was virtually the headquarters of Mchinji districtâ€, the lady said. â€œTraders coming by train, trucks, bicycles, and buses transacted here. And money circulated.â€
â€œWhat happened?â€ Jean-Philippe asked.
â€œMultiparty democrats killed all that. If CAMA still existed it would be fighting for the restoration of such vital services. If Cama existed, it would have taken on these telephone companies which freely milk us through fake promotions.â€
We left Kamwendo an hour later. As I whizzed past the Ludzi Turn-Off, the lady shouted:
I stopped and reversed the vehicle a few metres. The lady scribbled something on a piece of paper and gave it to me. She dropped off and waved. Jean-Philippe smiled. I smiled, too.Â