Written by PIUS NYONDO
My good friend Zikomo Matope and I are in Karonga. It isn't the Karonga that I used to know five years ago. The uranium town, as it’s popularly referred to now, is home to the Kayerekela Mine, at this moment Malawi's largest mine.
We happen to be in Karona for no special purpose. We're on our way to Mzuzu. We are coming from my village in Chitipa district where we went to bury my relation who kicked the bucket last week.
Much as Zikomo Matope pointed out that a 'funeral is a funeral' and insisted on accompanying me, deep down I knew he just wanted to get away from Mzuzu. To be precise, I knew he simply wanted to get himself a visa to be away from home for some time.
His wife, Marita, is a problem when it comes to giving 'exits' to her husband for outings. But since a 'funeral is a funeral' even Marita hadn't any strength to deny her husband, Zikomo Matope, the visa to escort me.
Fortunately for us, we'd had our perks deposited into our bank accounts the day prior to our departure. I must confess, Matope isn’t the only guilty one. My going to the funeral, while it brought smiles to my kinsmen, wasn't in good faith. Like Matope, I just wanted to be away for a minute.
Soon after the burial ceremony we left. But it wasn’t that easy. I bought off my kinsmen to let us leave. While we were loaded with the devalued currency of this land, it still was painful. Anyhow, my people didn't ask us to stay as per our tradition – we had just bribed them - so off we left.
It’s a Friday, and I didn't want to stop over in Karonga, but Zikomo Matope insisted. I wanted to spend time at our usual Mzuzu social joints to catch up on the latest happenings.
We've been hunting for real fun for some time now. All those places I used to enjoy some five years ago, no longer have life. Planet, LuliLo Bottlestore and Big Five are all dead. Yes, dead and buried.
And then we've found real fun.
As we empty the dark bottles at Club Elusion, Zikomo Matope and I can't stop marvelling at the quality of merry-making our brothers and sisters in beer have in this part of the country.
Dancing skills are on display from men in old fashioned jackets. And the girls, of all shapes and colours, are there too shaking their hips like there's no tomorrow.
"Look at that one," Zikomo Matope tells me. "How can she bring a baby to a bar?"
"What's your business? Do you want to adopt the baby?" I ask under the influence.
But before I even finish saying so, Zikomo Matope leaves and comes back with her.
"I don't understand what she's saying," complains Zikomo Matope.
"I'll try to interpret for you. Ngamu yako yo na? [what's your name?]" I ask her.
"Anganile," she says.
We ask her why her baby doesn't reflect the seed of a Malawian. We learn that the father is a Chinese national. He was an engineer during the construction of the Karonga-Chitipa Road. He got her pregnant and then vanished into thin air.
"Ntha nemwene hayi, tuli bingi [I'm not the only one, we're many],” she tells us.
Zikomo Matope tells me that she likes the girl and would like to marry her.
"But what about Marita?" I ask.
"She'll be my Mzuzu based wife and Anganile will be the Karonga based one."
"Anga," I turn to Anganile. "My friend would like to marry you."
She shakes her head.
"Why? Are you already married?"
Unfortunately for Zikomo Matope, Anganile nods. She says she is married but her husband is in prison. He continued to smuggle maize to neighbouring Tanzania even after government had issued a ban until she met the long arm of the Malawi police.
The police, says Anganile, is too corrupt. Her husband was arrested because he couldn't manage bribe the police.
"Mughanile fiyo [I love him so much],” she says.
We buy her beer and she leaves.
"I think I must go after her," Zikomo Matope follows her.
"Ipyana! Ipyana!" Someone shouts my name. I turn.
And then we're hugging and laughing. The loudmouth is Frank Mukisi, my primary schoolmate now a Member of Parliament in the area.
"Long time, friend. Where have you been?" I ask.
"I've been busy, doing my PhD."
"PhD? But the last time I checked you weren't even an MSCE holder?"
"Politics my friend," he says. "Politics is the easiest way to attain good academic papers."
I'm shocked. I know I was smarter than him in class and yet I still possess the same Diploma in Education from Domasi College of Education.
"By the way, in case you haven't heard," he continues, "Our president is now Dr. Joyce Banda."
(c) The Maravi Post 2013