When former president, the late Bingu wa Mutharika, suddenly took ill on April 5, 2012, Patricia Kaliati was the Information Minister.
As such, because in Malawi people think they can be responsible for information processing and dissemination, Kaliati was also the details facto government spokesperson.
The task was cut out for her; she had to turn any negative news into a chain of positivity and generate as much hope as she could, no matter how hopeless the situation.
So, as Bingu's once mighty heart slowly, but decisively, lost its vigour; as that heart got stilled at last-- Kaliati was busy refuting reports that Bingu, loved by many locals and hated by as many in the donor community, had crossed the veil.
The president is well, said Kaliati.
And, somehow, people sympathised with her.
After all, here was a government long used to spewing lies, half truths, and, sometimes, vitriol.
And Bingu did die. And no more energy to rebuff, or let alone postpone, the truth was left.
Kaliati could be understood. She was a lay woman.
In September (last month), whether by coincidence or otherwise, President Peter Mutharika-- who was last seen in Malawi in September, but his case of a missing person has not been reported to police -- President Peter Mutharika moved Kaliati from the position of government spokesperson to that far away from speaking for the government.
And in her place came Malison Ndau,a pastor.
As a pastor, Ndau knows how important speaking nothing but the truth can be. Of course, we know that there is nothing like the truth-- because the truth does not exist, hence they say it is relative. At one point it was true that the earth was flat. Until someone said, 'No, that is not true. The earth is oval-like in shape'.
Well, that the earth was flat was not untrue; it was the truth of that time, until another version of truth emerged. That the earth is oval-like in shape is the truth of this time. Until another version of truth emerges.
And Ndau knows the shortfalls of the concept of truth very well.
When Kaliati was busy, while wiping tit bits of saliva from her mouth, telling Malawians that Bingu was well and bubbly during the afternoon of April 5 2016, she was right because, according to the truth of the time, doctors had not yet pronounced Bingu dead. If they did, at least the contents of that confirmation document was not publicly known.
And Kaliati was a lay woman! Not lost in the shrubs of religiosity.
Today, with Pastor Ndau playing Kaliati's April 5 2012 role, reports are rife that President Peter Mutharika is seriously ill and recuperating in the United States of America. But, on the whole, these are reports emanating from people bitter with greed, people whose frustrations are publicly known, and their political inclination a matter of public currency.
In the heat of these reports came Pastor Ndau with that press statement, reiterating that Peter Mutharika is still the President of the Republic of Malawi, and that he continues performing his duties of Head of State and Government by remote control.
Well, because he is a pastor, as opposed to the lay woman Kaliati, maybe Malawians could do better to believe him.
They say Malawi is a God-fearing nation, no so? Even though the Malawi Constitution is secular, not so?
Well, like the information gap on President Peter Mutharika's exact where-abouts in the United States-- in one of the scenes in my favourite love comedy, Coming to America, which I watch in the evening every two days, Semmi tells Prince Akeem, while looking at the map of the United States of America, that "... The land is so infinite" -- so many 'not sos' do not fill the information.
Maybe the fact that Ndau is a pastor in this highly superstitious nation will.