We planned to visit Ndawambe Village near the Mchinji forest last Thursday afternoon. Since we arrived here in Mchinji, people we have met have been asking us why we want to visit Ndawambe village of all places. One of the many friends we have made since we came suggested that we, instead, go across the border to taste Mosi, the KucheKuche of Zambia. But Jean-Philippe declined.
Ndawambe is a critical and strategic village. If Ndawambeans decided today to cut down every tree in the Mchinji forest, and they can if they want, the Bua river fishery and the irrigation farming that is based on it from Mchinji through Kasungu to Nkhotakota, would collapse. The wild animals in Nkhotatota Wildlife Reserve would collapse. The livelihoods of achina dada and achina kaka of Nkhotakota would collapse.
The Bua River Lodge, a reasonably priced facility that my retired British friend, John Dickinson, built near the wildlife reserve would collapse. Snakes, lions, monkeys, wild dogs, elephants, rodents, hares, fish eagles, and mosquitoes would run amok. The mpasa fish that the Bua River is famous for would collapse. Herbalists, wizards and witches would collapse. Of course, the cultivation of that famous money and head-spinning vegetable of wisdom would also collapse.
All these owe their lives and livelihoods to one great guardian village, Ndawambe. Ndawambeans know better than the water boards in Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu, and Zomba, that water is life and that protecting watersheds is the beginning of wisdom. Ndawambeans know that those who appreciate the value of nature need no policing or exogenous incentivisation!
But, we have not been able to go because last Thursday morning I received a phone call from that business lady we gave a ride to on our way from Lilongwe via Namitete and Kamwendo. I asked her what she wanted at that time of the morning.
â€œChiteni,â€ she started, â€œI wanted to propose that we to go to meet my people next Sunday because I still need to collect my money from the people who got honey last month.â€
â€œOur schedule is very tight. We canâ€™t afford to be here waiting for one person,â€ I replied.
â€œNa imwe, understand my situation. Yes? Napapata.â€
â€œOkay, we will wait but not for too long.â€
â€œThanks. Thatâ€™s my man!â€
â€œLove you. Byeâ€
I stood up and went to Jean-Philippeâ€™s room to brief him about the conversation.
â€œSo what do we do between now and Sunday?â€
â€œDrink and get drunk.â€
â€œOr eat and get eaten!â€ Jean-Philippe joked before saying, â€œWell. If itâ€™s good for you, itâ€™s worth the waiting. And whatâ€™s her name?â€
â€œI didnâ€™t ask herâ€
â€œAnd does she know your name and lifestyle?â€
â€œIs this a presidential inquiry into private relationships?â€
â€œI just wanted to know who and what we are dealing with. Last time you were notoriously and torturously inquisitive about my Susana of Kacheri, Alfonsina of Chididi and this one from Chalet dâ€™Omuraâ€¦â€
â€œKweeni Jennifer Niherio? She died.â€
â€œWell. Birth is a one way ticket to death. Yeah?â€
â€œHow do you condole? Verbally or in hard currency?â€
â€œYou want to start drinking now?â€
â€œDrinking knows no hour.â€
â€œOkay, ask Nalia to give you two for breakfast.â€
â€œMake it six. I am mourning.â€