Written by PIUS NYONDO
My good friend Zikomo Matope and I are sad. We are sad that you are gone. It doesn’t matter that we didn’t know you personally. A funeral is a funeral and we always pay heartfelt condolences to the bereaved.
Chief, wherever you are, know that we aren’t jealous that you were accorded a state funeral. My friend Zikomo Matope just doesn’t cry anyhow and I saw him shed a tear at the news of your passing.
He confesses that he only mourns for great people and you were one of such great people. Chief, you united the people of Mzimba; you united the people of Malawi.
If my memory serves me right, you accorded the title of Ngwazi to our ill-fated dictator Bingu wa Mutharika, yes, that man who left us in April last year. Zikomo Matope and I have mixed feelings about your gesture. We had another Ngwazi in Malawi whose human rights record was tainted. His name was Kamuzu Banda.
I and Zikomo have been wondering whether Bingu’s successor, another Banda (not related to the first Ngwazi), was also going to be called the great one by you. A university in South Korea just acknowledged Abiti JB for fixing our economy and was given an honorary doctorate. Zikomo Matope and I think very soon we should have been referring to her as Ngwazi Dr. Joyce Banda! Well, may be not. But why not?
Chief, the fact is people of Mzimba will miss you. They ate mang’ina and drunk themselves silly at your expense. The people of Mzimba were a proud people, courtesy of you. They sent their sons and daughters to good secondary schools in your name, Chief. People simply loved you.
People will miss you now that you are gone. We only hope that your son, Mkhosi Jere, will be a uniting force as you were.
Allow Zikomo and I, Chief, to say you have left at the wrong time. Our economy is struggling and our government is limping, seriously. During the late Moya’s time, yes, during Bingu wa Mutharika’s time, we used to buy a bottle of Carlsberg beer at K150.00. That was a time when you lived among us and danced to the Umtheto tunes.
Chief, as a bonafide Ngoni, you know Ngonis love their drink, be it traditional or otherwise. Life is tough and since you loved people and people loved you, we are just wondering whether it was a good move for you to be accorded a state funeral. Our hospitals have no drugs yet the government quickly found money for a lavish funeral for you.
At the same time, just know that we have no hard feelings. We are just thinking aloud. Rest well, Chief, rest well. As our forefathers said, bakufwa bakupumula [the dead rest].
Pius and Zikomo Matope