Before the advent of multiparty politics, Gwapes once walked the length and breadth of Sanjika Palace in Blantyre.
And, then, Bakili Muluzi came onto the scene as president of the Republic of Malawi.
One day, as he was being driven outside Sanjika Palace on one of his many political journeys, he spotted one Gwape crossing the road from one part of Sanjika Hill to the other.
Muluzi’s cleaving for Gwape meat was aroused.
On his way back, he issued an order.
“Kill one Gwape for me!”
He was the President. Nobody could challenge his authority.
That evening, one Gwape died.
That marked the beginning of the end for many Gwapes at Sanjika Palace.
And the Gwapes, possibly, new that another ruler was in town!
Every two days, Muluzi could order that one Gwape be killed. Until the numbers begun to dwindle.
Kamuzu Banda, Malawi’s first post-independence president, had worked had to have Sanjika Palace— his official residence— stocked with Gwapes.
Every time he was being driven out of Sanjika, he rejoined in seeing the Gwapes cross the road. From one bush to another, inside the gates of Sanjika Palace. The Gwapes could even defy the hooting of the vehicles on the presidential convoy and delay it, and Kamuzu, along the way.
Kamuzu made sure no one hit the Gwapes.
Until Muluzi came onto the scene. And started eating them one by one.
By the time he left office, the Gwapes’ numbers had so declined from 1, 750 to 380.
Today, not many Gwapes roam around at Sanjika Palace.
Some are in Muluzi’s stomach. But those who remain are too shy to come out in the open.
They have lost the trust they had in human beings. Thanks to Muluzi’s mouth.
Well, Muluzi has Gwapes at his BCA Hill Residence. Some of the Gwapes he took with him on his reluctant way out of Sanjika Palace.
Story as told by one of the bodyguards who worked at Sanjika Palace between June 1994 and April 2004.