Wednesday, 26 October 2016

DAY 22 PART 1 OF 22 DAY CHALLENGE: SO LONG, FAREWELL, IT'S TIME TO SAY GOODBYE

I started the 22-day challenge, complements of Rex Harawa PhD, the ultimate bespoke-gentleman. This video was recorded yesterday but due to a technical hitch could not be loaded. But be assured your Mfundisi lived up to his word.
Today's final nomination continues in the tradition of bespoke gentlemen. It is my singular honour and privilege of nominating Justice Dingiswayo Madise aka CJ (cibongo Dhlamini). ow as most of you will know., I am not a Judge. He is the Judge. I am a mere mfundisi. Dingi is my young brother. We were both born in the same city, Blantyre. We grew up together in the divers places that our parents lived. We share too many stories such that despite the summary provided here; it is still a long post; the longest post of the series. I therefore apologise in advance. The only solace I can offer is it is my last.
I am told my father once worked in Quelimane and Botswana after finishing his secondary education. He was the only person selected in his year from Madise Primary School to a new national secondary school; all the way at Blantyre Secondary School. My father was born Phangazindabo. The Headmaster said he had the gait of a king and reminded him of his king of England, George.,That is how his certificate name became George. But his mother always called him by his true name: Phangandabo. If she wanted to tease him she would go "Joroji". I also understand he stayed and worked in Mzimba, Zomba, Chikangawa. I can only recall being in Blantyre and Lilongwe and back to Blantyre. Our being found in Blantyre was not because of his secondary education per se but his political activities. After finishing secondary he returned to Mzimba after having tried his luck in other territories. He never said it but I always suspected he was a patriot. He worked as a Clerk at M'mbelwa District Council. Our father was one of the young Turks arrested on 3 March 1959 in Mzimba for "spreading the independence message". He was detained and was earmarked for Khami Prison in Southern Rhodesia while Kamuzu was incecerated at Gweru. They travelled by ship from Nkhatabay to Chipoka and were thrown into the train to Blantyre from where they were to be flown to Khami. Luckily they found that the plane had already left and they were detained at Kanjedza. Upon his release a year later, he was banned from ever returning to his home district of Mzimba and was confined to Blantyre. But the Colonial Government gave him a job instead! He was posted to several places and his ban later rescinded as the country gained its independence. But even then he had to get authority from the government to travel outside his hometown of Blantyre! How ironic! But he never abandoned his Ngoni cornerstones! No Sir!
What I recall is us growing up in Lilongwe and Blantyre. Dingi and I grew and played together as if we were twins although I was slightly older; but just. Our best moments were as kids at Dharap. Now Dingi always liked to play and this at times would get him into all sorts of trouble. But I relied on my fists to ensure my brother was never intimated. When I heard someone was threatening him, I quickly rushed, blows first no questions asked thereafter. I may have moderated now, but don't push your luck. We were never intimated as children thatvI can safely say and grew up supporting each other. When most of the new buildings in Blantyre City were being constructed, Dingi and I and our friends were the town boys. We saw how Woods Transport carried sand from the Mudi River and build the town. We even would go and watch golf at Blantyre Sports Club. And we developed an early passion for drama and would go and watch English drama movies at the British Council, where Umoyo now stands. I recall that after watching Pride and Prejudice I was nicknamed "Mr Darcy". I had a well known temper, and was not very stingy with my fists! They called one of my sisters "Darcy Wa Mkazi" - and that tells you she was a force to reckon with. Well she still is. Bless her. When the old Conforzi building was being razed down to pave way for Chayamba, a hyena was heard howling. We were told to remain indoors in the evenings lest we be eaten. Did we listen? Never! Not when there was a free evening film at the School and Likuni Phala (they did not tell us they would give us chidindo cha BCG in return!) - I still nurse the scar on left upper arm! The long and short of it was we knew Blantyre inside out. We could walk to townships and the only thing we were scared off was the Orange Kombi by the owners of Hong Kong Restaurant. Whenever we saw the Kombi we scrammed in all directions, hiding in all available crevices! I remember us coasting one of their Chinese Waiters (who really walked like Jacke Chan) to teach us Kung-fu! The dude did not even know a basic kung-fu stance! Zoba! At that time our abode was in Kabula. Councillor Chinsima was the Mayor of Blantyre. He always dashing in his all white suit; riding in his white Kingswood limousine. Original big man. True bespoke gentleman.
Tinazendewela ma lorry a David Whitehead mkudumpha kunsupuka m'mabondo koma osakanena kunyumba! Timakaseseleka kuutuchi. We even would go and slide on the green algae on the river banks of Mudi (Nyakupha was the name Chanthenda and Chakufwa Chawinga gave it). Sunduzwayo Jere and Chiza Jere (aMakhosi) were always part of our gang. Kukwapulidwa ku sukulu sinali nkhani. Mdala amasina in between the things! Ukalakwa mayeso, umathyolerathu wekha chikwapu popita pa deni. Ma galimoto amawaya tamanga; nkuyendetsa full-driver! Police Band tinaguba; titavala used Chibuku packets (much to the chagrin of our parents when they saw us!). It was fun growing up. We had no TV, no cell phones and the phone could be locked with a padlock! Internet was a nonexistent word.
One year during 6 July Celebrations, Dingi and I, being our usually nose selves noticed that our father had brought home a strange looking wooden box into his bedroom. You bet what happened next! We as were opened it, of course at my instigating, we immediately realised it was the head of a lion complete with its intricately woven. skin. We had previously seen a similar stuffed head on display at Bombay Bazaar. Like I said, we knew Blantyre like the back of our palm. We decided to investigate the next day and found the lion was no,longer on display at Bombay Bazaar! We knew our father had a penchant for Bombay Bazaar shirts and suits and we were convinced it was the same animal! So imagine our surprise to read the newspapers after 6 July showing Ngoni true Chiefs from Mzimba robbing Kamuzu with a similar lion skin? We decided to investigate further and found that the box was now empty. And we then recalled hearing strange conversation (Ngoni -but a language we could not grasp then) very late at night (they thought we were asleep) by some strange looking tall dark fellows with strange looking outfits like they had come from the jungle with my father. And it then dawned on us. Our father had been the trusted emissary to procure the gift for the Ngwazi. But typical of him, he never even went to the stadium. He spent the day drinking his ucwala and eating manqina and listening to Tabu Ley! He did not even switch on to, or listen to the live broadcast! What a man! We never ever talked about it. But Dingi and I were left in no doubt that our father was not an ordinary man! My father also taught me a practical lesson "never allow anyone to insult your wife". One day some known 'undercover' special police chap shouted at my mother. Now this man was a giant and scary looking. My father heard it and in a flash had the giant on the floor. No questions asked. A few minutes later the man was bleeding profusely and apologising. He was promptly banned from our bottle store. Medium built but strong my father was. I suspected he grew up hunting with big game in his youth and this giant was nothing to scare him! And I knew he always kept his unkomto behind the shelves! You can take the Ngoni man out of Mzimba but his ungoni goes with him! Make no mistake. I saw it in my father. GPS. This is something NyaKamkwalala has problem understanding. I will protect her honour with my own blood! She always says "asiyeni"! Eish! Zovuzedi!
But I must pause here and make a frank admission. Although. Dingi and I were always together, we were very different. He was the good spirit, always optimistic, the peace maker. I was the celebrated trouble maker. In all our mischievous deeds, it was I who coaxed him (nay threatened him) to do as I sad. I recall my father one day threatened me with banishment to Mpemba Boys Home. He actually took me on a ride towards Mpemba and I became scared! That was the start of kuwongoka kwa mwana wosochela! Zikwapu tinali titazolowela. If truth be said; that is the only moment I recollect ever being truly scared. Threat of banishment! I even remember it was a rainy cold day! Eish!
We later moved to Chilomoni. We called it Babylon - well that is the name Kenneth Kwelepeta and his brother Ted Kwelepeta gave it. (Ted and Chiza were the who when we fought it ended in a draw! Ha ha ha !) The other name for Chilomoni was Saigon. This is where Dingi grew up into an inquisitive youngster. He loved going on the Christmas Bus Rides. For me the Train Rides had better sights; timashula ta saizi yathu nthawi imeneyo! That time Mulunguzi, at the outskirts of Nthukwa was just a few houses strong. The rest was bush and trees. But our dual passion for drama did not wane. Under the tutelage of our older cousin (he was at custom actually our son) Simon Mathambo Hara, he taught us the basic rudiments of acting for different stages and audiences.,Simon Hara is the one who taught me the "Dali Katete Wototomela" song. So we started acting while in primary school! That was the time when Kwathu and Tiwuke Performing Arts (later Wakhumbata) were just emerging. I recall we once shared the stage at a festival sponsored by Stephen Mcheka of Tiwawonerere Performing Arts assisted by Charles Kachitsa in Lilongwe with two hot talents from Mulanje with a lot of promise. They had their own fiery brand of drama and comedy. One was Bon Kalindo aka Winiko. The rest for this talent from Mulanje is as they say now history! We later moved to Ndixville near Chinseu Tavern where we horned manqina cooking skills! Our father would also take me and Dingi out for his hunting escapades. The hunting ground was after Lirangwe. There were many deers and antelopes there. He killed lots using his loud Greener Shot Gun (ya machaka). Every time he fired we would remain deaf for a few hours later. That Greener is a sure shot but it has a booming sound; that I can testify! The hunt was always in the wee hours of the night! In short, we grew up streetwise. We grew up without fear. My father's favourite part of the meat was the umlenze (the legs). Nothing can match the taste of dried game which has been left out to naturally aerate. Not much meat in a deer; but tasty nonetheless. There is another story of how my father once hit a warthog on the road. Brought it home and skinned it overnight! Didn't care much about the damaged radiator of the 404. Now if there is meat that a Ngoni will not abandon then warthog is that meat! One of my cousins decided he would not go to work as doing so would make him miss the feast. He was fired from work. He didn't regret it it! Angoni sadzatheka! We learnt to kill and skin a goat while we were still youngsters, Dingi and I. We learnt how to cook lubende (spleen and bits and pieces) and inhloko (head)
I pursued my drama interests at Chichiri Secondary and for 2 years we just missed the top national prize by a whisker. One was under my direction; penned by the legendary Chipiliro Matiya. Swanzie (Munthali) Mawerenga gave a performance of a lifetime in the play with Barnet Matiya! Remember it as if it was yesterday. Dingi went to HHI Secondary where he told me that for the first time he felt he was challenged by someone; not in the physical sense (paja yamanja sinali nkhani) but "dramatically". That person was a young budding poet called Gospel Kazako. If Dingi became a good playwright, it was in part because he wanted to compete with the more fluent Gospel who even at that age was a master of the stage and prose. At that time Gospel was writing short stories already worth publication. Now we all know the media mogul that Gospel is. It was evident we were witnessing then unveiling of greatness. A bespoke gentleman. But conquer his fears, Dingi did, and his play "United We Stand" starring him as Dada Mkhulu is one of the most memorable players I have ever watched. The lines were just beautiful to read. Poetic. Picturesque. When he asked me to view it in production; I cried. I saw before my eyes the most authentic character of an old man on stage I have ever seen. His play did not win, coming second, to much boos from the packed crowd in Lilongwe. But there was no denying who the master actor of the ATEM Festival Festival. Although he was not the lead protagonist; he won the best actor award. He was masterclass. The legend of Dada Mkhulu was born. The signature anthem for the play was "Together As One" by Lucky Dube. And Dada Mkhulu would dance that song! Haibo!
Now you know where "mkhulunews" can start to be traced from. But not so fast. It gets more complicated. Our home Village is Mkhulu right there in Madise in Mzimba. There; you have it. mkhulunews. We are part of the Mlumuzana (GVH) Mkakabanthu Madise. The correct Zulu name is Mnumzana (meaning head of family). So as a people we are Malawians first, then Ngonis (both our parents were Ngoni). That is why we have names that read like sentences! But there are meanings behind those names! So Mkhulu is the seat of Mnumzana GVH Mkakabanthu. But if I get stopped by the Traffic Police Officer and get asked my tribe; I stubbornly reply Malawian. Apo pokha sindigonja.
We both pursued our drama interest in College albeit in different cohorts and were active members of the Chancellor College Travelling Theatre. We later formed United Artists and our task was to go and entertain students in Secondary and Tertiary Education institutions! We once undertook a self-funded national wide tour, from Mulanje all the way to Rumphi - where we were amazed to see Gotani wa Gotani (Gots) International. We just wanted to have fun! And we had fun. Nsema Lloyd, Clifton Kandoje, Salad Nthenda, Chawezi C Longwe and Deidre were part of this group. So were the cameo appearances of Mwizay Madise (cibongo Kanyolokela) Doskani Madise (cibongo Mahlekehleke) and Zindaba Wa Chisiza. We even had the legendary Tony Bismarck, the coolest bad character on stage. We performed many plays at the French Culture Centre. We considered it our home ground theatre.
Dingi has always been an entrepreneur. I recall a time when the College that God Loved Most was closed (yes after 1991, Chanco would never be the same), Dingi would come home to Chitawira and ask for orders to procure goods in Salisbury (Harare). At that time I had undertaken to sponsor his education. He however would ask for all his allowance upfront because he said wanted to invest in his business. I was naturally risk averse but Dingi is the consummate negotiator. Calm, collected and logical. Somehow he always managed to fleece me of my money despite my efforts! He told me that when they arrived in Salisbury they slept at Carlton Hotel. One day, out of curiosity if nothing else as to what my kid brother was up to, I decided to accompany him, and also I must admit after being impressed by the various wares he was bringing from Salisbury (He always brought the classiest of things and obviously ensured he kept some for his wardrobe. Osadzimana iyayi!) But with hindsight, I should should have asked clearly. It was Katoni Hotel as in makatoni. Not the famous Carlton Hotel! It was in fact no Hotel, just an open space where the Munorurama Bus dispatched us. When we arrived, I notice that folded carton boxes were being given to customers and each was getting a space to lie down. Seeing the confusion and obvious lack of comprehension on my face, Dingi got two sets for us; put them down and calmly said to me "Welcome to Katoni Hotel". And that is how I was introduced to what we fondly called the "The Carton Hotel" which I visited on several occasions on my own! So in his College days all Dingi would ask for was some money to invest in his business and would promise not to ask for any more picket money - until there was a Sports Festival at Poly! But life is a real karma! While I supported Dingi with pocket money for his College days, when I went back to Kuimba 2 it was Dingi who now supported me with pocket money! He always lied it was a loan he was offering to me but every time I tried to repay him he found another excuse! Our mother NyaChibambo (Hwesa) should be proud of him! Selfless man. Benevolent man. Good man, if I must say so as his own sibling. And if truth be told, it was Dingi who introduced me to the Harare line of goods and a spirit of entrepreneurship (which I am yet to master)! Humility is learning from your juniors. I learnt from the best.And our slogan when we were growing up was from the poem by Dennis Brutus "Somehow We Survive." So whenever we were faced with a mountain; we would recite the poem in a frenzy and somehow we survived!
When I went for my "Second Recording"; I recall being asked "Kodi tchifu uja ankayenda ndi ndodo, akusuta paipi kukamwa, ndi nkulu wanu? Nayenso ankapanga za , ngati zanuzi"? 
Ine "utiyo?". 
"Wina wake wadzina lofana-fana ngati lanu? Anzake ankamuti CJ?. Amayenda ndi mdidi. Koma inu muzitha? Chifukwa ku law kuli sukulutu"
There and then Mr Mbewe (Mr Chanco) would jump in as if on cue and chide the inquirer: "kodi awa simukuwadziwa? Amene uja ndi mwana wa mng'ono. Mwini dzina ndi amenewa. Uja anabwela kumbuyo. Awa anapanga kale sukulu yoyamba pano. Padali pawo pano!. Muzitifunsa ambiri yakalefe"
And he would look at me with his usual twinkle! "Monga amfumu ndikunama?"
And then he would add ""Eeeeh koma nayetu ndi katundu mng'ono wanu uja. Adasiya mbiri yache pano."
Then he would all of a sudden become serious
"Koma don't worry are a big man you will manage. You already did your first degree, it will be a stroll in the park; just ngati kungobwerenza" 
Ha ha ha ha ha
Mr Mbewe! What a man
Akati akupope ukhonza kukweradi mu mtengo! 
But he has an incredible memory. 
He remembers almost everyone who has ever stepped through Chanco; and where their file is!
So when I finally write my life story, Dingi will have at least 4 chapters
- Dingi the boyhood friend and ally
- Dingi the theatre maestro
- Dingi the Jurist
- Dingi the Entrepreneur 
I am thinking one volume will not be enough for my story. When I look back; I can surely pen at least 2-3 life stories! What a life! No regrets!
A few months ago, Dingi had to be admitted to hospital with blood pressure. He is now recuperating. So I am not sure if his doctors will allow him to engage in this challenge. If you can, then do as many push-ups as you can manage. But for you, I will do two sets today, one for me and one for you, as always! And for each set I have done 2 sets also; just to make sure I have you covered bro!

Somehow we survive! 
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video

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