Peter Mmangisa Chonga-Correspondent
One bright Saturday morning in June, five Malawian friends from the state of Connecticut and New York carpooled to travel over 130 miles to console one of their own in the state of Massachusetts, who at this time had lost a sister in Machinjili city, Malawi. A gesture that exemplifies a true testament to the idea of Umodzi derived from the concept of Umunthu. A concept predominantly practiced in Africa and Malawi in particular. This would have been just like any other journey made in the past as is now customary whenever such things happen.
Since September 2018, New England Malawi Association (NEMA) has been doing things differently. The Association got back from a more than 4-year slumber with an epiphany; it’s time we start taking care of our own. This road trip turned out to be special in every aspect of the word. Mrs Anne Phiri one of the passengers brought up a topic about her son Ian, who on September 6, 2019 will be hosting a standup comic show at one of the renowned comic joints known as the Elbow Room in West Hartford, Connecticut, USA.
To NEMA members traveling on this trip, this was pure serendipity and a eureka moment at the same time. When you set out to do good, the universe conspires to make it happen. I had not heard about this young man until this day. I took interest in the young man and inquired more about him from his Mom. Mrs Phiri spoke about her son Ian with grin in her face like a proud Mama would. Who would blame her, it was her moment to shine, like the northern star indeed she did?
Ian was born in Malawi to Dr and Mrs Phiri. At the age of 7, Ian moved to the United States. In 2006 he graduated from Hamden high school in the state of Connecticut and went on to obtain a Baccalaureate in Business Administration in Marketing from Southern Connecticut State University in 2012. However, organizing, mobilizing and putting smiles on people’s faces to him is innate, it’s in his DNA. While at Connecticut State University Ian was a Director of Broadcasting for the School radio. His life comes full circle when he is in front of a microphone.
As the organizer and host of the nights event entitled Doing Too Much, Too Fast, Ian takes to the stage. A proud Malawian young man with black, red and green sanguineous oozing through his veins. Ian conquers the stage like the champ that he is. Dr and Mrs Phiri could not be any prouder. It was a night full of laughter and lessons. One valuable lesson I leant on this night, is that you should never put trust in a comedian even if that comedian is your own son or else the joke is on you, literally. “Do you guys need more drinks? He asked the audience, “don’t be like my Dad, he is always sober,” the audience goes into stitches some turning their heads to see this ever-sober Dad who at this point was sitting to the far right of the room. “Growing up I always wondered”, he continued “what type of a man does not consume alcohol? “Then he quickly answers his question, “a responsible one”. Laughter reverberates the room.
Ian has just roasted his Dad and complemented him in the same sentence. If you ask me, that’s ingenuity in all its glory right there. The show continues, Ian introduces each one of the comedians with so much pomp, creating palpable expectation from the audience; a true master of his craft. Then he closes the night with a stellar joke regarding his youthful days. At that point I could not believe the night was over.
Kudos to Ian Phiri for raising the Malawian banner and as he continues mounting up wings, soaring like an eagle