By Patseni Mauka

Mr Tsokaliyenda died suddenly. He had no time to organize and retire his magical charms. With the help of his charms, Tsokaliyenda refused to leave this world. Not before he was ready. He refused to be buried. The magical charmswere still getting instructions from him even in his death. The first signof trouble was when the gravediggers started digging the grave for departedTsokaliyenda. They dug the grave six feet deep and just when they thought theyhad finished, the grave collapsed. They dug a second one and to their shock, itcollapsed too.

That was when they sensed that they were dealing with someone who was using the power of magical charms to refuse to be buried. Tired of the tough work of digging a grave, the gravediggers decided to dig for the last time, but they only dug a knee deep grave. As usual, they then sent a message to the funeral house that the funeral organizers could proceed with the ceremony and bring the coffin with Tsokaliyenda’s remains to the graveyard.

When the people at the funeral house tried to lift the coffin, they got shocked with it’s strange weight. The coffin was too heavy for any number of people to carry it to the graveyard. Tsokaliyenda was definitely refusing to go. Presumably, even in death, he was aware of the proceedings and was in control. The people then decided to use an ox cart to carry the coffin to the graveyard.

With the coffin loaded, the ox cart struggled to move. Slowly, the ox cart moved but took three hours to arrive at a close village graveyard. Upon arrival, everyone refused to take the coffin out of the ox cart. They were so afraid. A creature, probably a young reptile, showed it’s tongue from the coffin. It took some people who got charms from a witch doctor to finally get the coffin out of the ox cart. 

Afraid of further chaos, they just dropped the coffin in the grave without further graveyard proceedings. Finally, the people were told to go home as it was already dark in the evening. That’s the man I know had control over his funeral, Mr Tsokaliyenda. The story was well narrated in the song titled ‘Tsokaliyenda’ .

To the best of my knowledge, maybe apart from Mr Tsokaliyenda, nobody knows what happens when people die. Nobody has really died and and come back to tell us how it feels. All the stories of what happens after death are just beliefs. With a lifeless body, probably nobody follows what happens at their funeral. However, regardless of whatever happens, everyone deserves a proper and dignified funeral, not a chaotic one.

It was therefore shameful and regrettable that on Tuesday this week drama erupted at the funereal service of late Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe at Bolero in Rumphi District. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government selfishly and deliberately did not include other political leaders on the funeral service programme. This resulted in a clash between the clergy and traditional leaders, threatening to disrupt the service.

As reported by the Nation newspaper, director of ceremonies Chimbizga Msimuko of state run Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) specifically asked all speakers to only acknowledge President Peter Mutharika in their salutations despite the presence of Vice President Saulos Chilima, Leader of opposition Lazarus Chakwera and other political leaders.

The government then skipped Reverend Levi Nyondo of C.C.A.P Livingstonia Synod, who was on the initial list of speakers for advising that Chilima’s presence should be acknowledged. In delivering the President’s eulogy, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Kondwani Nankhumwa reportedly only acknowledged the presence of the Speaker, Cabinet ministers and traditional leaders, among others. He never mentioned Chilima or Chakwera.

Reports say that having noted the strange government antics, Synod moderator the Reverend Douglas Chipofya announced that Nyondo, Chakwera and Chilima would speak before the church section of the ceremony. His announcement drew applause from sections of the mourners. The clergy’s insistence to have other political leaders recognized was just in line with norms and culture of acknowledging leaders at functions.

Without shame, the government through two traditional leaders, including group village head Kazamawe moved in to seize the microphone from Chipofya, stating that protocol does not allow anyone to speak after the President. It was such an embarrassing and shameful act of funeral possessiveness by the DPP government.

The incident is just one of the several embarrassing occasions where politicians have caused problems by trying to outdo each other during funerals. The DPP seems to have specifically mastered the art of owning funerals as if all prominent dead people belong to them. Last year, there were chaos at the funeral ceremony of mother to Senior Chief Lukwa of Kasungu when DPP district governor for Kasungu, Osward Chirwa, snatched a microphone from Kasungu Central Member of Parliament (MCP), Amon Nkhata, who was delivering his eulogy.

The same year, Lazarus Chakwera’s presence at the funeral ceremony of Senior Chief Kabudula in Lilongwe, was also not recognized. The ceremony was led by the same desperate DPP government. Similar incidents also occurred during the burial ceremony of victims of the Mlowe boat accident in Rumphi and also at a similar function for former cabinet minister, Robson Chirwa in Mzuzu.

Folks, just pause and think. The whole government headed by a professor agreeing that it’s a good idea not to acknowledge other political leader’s presence at a funeral. What logical purpose does that serve? Surely, by doing this they must have objectives to achieve. Obviously, of the many mediocre reasons that they had, two of them must be to frustrate the other political leaders and show them that they are the government which has control over funeral ceremonies. The other lame reason would be to make people think that they are the only ones that care about the departed people and therefore increase chances of people liking DPP.

This is illogical thinking. In the first place, the people that attended the funeral, have eyes and ears. Many must have seen the presence of the other political leaders. They didn’t need to hear about their presence from the speakers at the funeral for them to know that they were present. Therefore, not acknowledging other political leaders does little to nothing about their presence at funeral ceremonies. In addition, in this day and age, information flows very fast. In real time, people were posting videos and photos of the funeral service on social media. In real time, people knew who was present at the funeral right on their mobile phones, tablets and computers.

The futile antics just made DPP feel good about themselves but didn’t achieve anything. If anything it just showed that DPP is full of greedy people who are desperate to remain in power and will do anything, not matter how shameful to score political points. Unfortunately with such mediocre ideas, they are actually removing the little respect that other people may still have for them.

DPP needs to stop primitive politics and realize that they can’t block people or disregard their presence at funeral ceremonies. At 86, the late Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe must have interacted with people of walks of life. The people he interacted with in his personal and public life were free to attend the funeral and even give eulogies in accordance with our culture. Therefore, DPP had no right whatsoever to be extremely possessive with the funeral ceremony. Maliro saphangira. Shame on Peter Mutharika and DPP.