Saturday, December 17, 2016

Those were the days!

Once, when Bakili Muluzi was Malawi's president, the talk around town was that he never missed a funeral, especially those of his friends.
And Muluzi had the look of someone who swam in such talk; for it made him sail directly into public favour.
And public favour, the way it is programmed, can sway an election in a politician's favour.
That reminds me. Muluzi was a politician. He, therefore, had to win votes by hook or crook.
But, then, there was something real-- something so close to the people-- about that man. The look on his face.
During funerals, Muluzi could really be said to be sad.
And the man had a penchant for remembering faces. Once Muluzi set his eye on you, he could not forget you. It was as if your face was written in his mind.
Except, of course, me!
Whatever I am today, it is because of the UDF News, which took me in as a correspondent as I cut my teeth in journalism.
Well, the pay was not good enough, but the training was worth it.
The late Elson Kasinja [may his soul rest in peace] shaped my writing. Joseph Kayira was always encouraging me. Richard Chinansi was a brother-in-arms. In Edith Malamula I found an inspired female journalist. Of course, Harriet Kachingwe was always there to typeset our work.
Then, there was Levison Lifikiro, the UDF News editor. Lifikiro once worked as one of the editors at Malawi's oldest newspaper, The Daily Times, and took me by the arm whenever I goofed.
At one point, I wrote an article in UDF News about what was public information. Former UDF director of research, Humphreys Mvula, has announced his resignation from the UDF [in this case, United Democratic Front, the party] and I put that in the newspaper.
He came to the office the moment the news was out on the streets. He was angry. He shouted. He asked for Richard Chirombo.
Fortunately, he [Mvula] did not know me in person. So, I came out of our newsroom, to the outside where Mvula was shouting and threatening. Lifikiro patted him on the back, from now and then, but Mvula could have none of it. He wanted to see and meet Richard Chirombo.
I was there, and I shook in the knees.
Well, Lifikiro saved my skin.
A week later, I met Mvula at Tambala Food Products Limited and he picked me from Ginnery Corner, where Tambala Food Products is, to Blantyre Central Business District. I even introduced myself. Mvula was in the company of Tusekere Mwanyongo.
Tell you what Mvula was smiling and we have been smiling at each other ever since.
Bygones, in Mvula's world, are bygones.
But, then...the only sad thing that ever happened to me was that Muluzi once shook everyone's hand at a public place and refused to shake mine. I do not know why!
Those were the days!

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