My good friend Zikomo Matope woke me up with a call at around 11: 00 pm last Friday, saying he was in the hands of the police.
“Police?” I asked. “What charges?”
Unfortunately–to my immeasurable disappointment–Zikomo hang up. I cursed, first of all, the network service providers for their persistent backwardness when their tariffs get hiked each passing day and; then, the police for arresting my very good friend Zikomo.
Surely it was, I thought, because of his recent political outbursts on the Masiteni led government. Zikomo has been criticizing the incumbent regime for one reason or another. With the purchase of a Blackberry smartphone recently, the criticisms have become wild and wilder.
He calls the Masiteni led government all sorts of names; a government by accident, a safe maizehood government, a clueless one-cow-one-family government, a thoughtless build-a-house-we-will-roof government plus many other names. Zikomo proudly posts all these on Facebook and; just below the updates an inscription ‘Sent via My Blackberry Smartphone’ reads.
I wasn’t surprised; therefore, to hear that Zikomo was in the hands of the police. Like lust, patience wears out too–and government is no exception.
Hardly had I finished plotting my next move on the matter than I felt my ‘Mose wa Lero Stupidphone’ vibrate again. I grabbed it in haste. It was a text message from Zikomo which simply read: “I meant police officers are buying me beer at Sports Café tonight, I miss your presence man.”
I furiously kicked aimlessly in the air and cursed Zikomo for playing with my emotions. On Saturday morning–very unusual of him, since he was supposed to be nursing his hangover–Zikomo gave me another call. I had forsaken it the first time fearing a repeat of the previous day’s intercourse.
“Come to Mzuzu Hotel just now!” shouted a jovial Zikomo at the other end. “We’re getting drunk to shit today.”
“Do we have sponsors?”
“Just come,” was the answer before he hung up.
You see, ten years is a long time for one to notice whether a friend is telling a lie or not. In my ten year comradeship with Zikomo, I have learnt that the man of the bottle can lie to me on any other topic but not on one that concerns beer scapades.
In less than ten minutes I was already at Mzuzu Hotel, looking around for my friend’s big head. And; there it was, at one of the edges of Boma Park. And; Zikomo’s head was not the only one; there was another that was just opposite. Strange! Zikomo rarely drinks in company of men–except me–women do.
“Here you’re!” Zikomo shouted as soon as I arrived at the table.
“You didn’t tell me you have company.”
“Oh!” Zikomo smiled, looking at the man sitting opposite him. “He is a politician, Daniel Phiri. Our today’s sponsor.”
As we emptied the expensive Carlsberg green bottles at Mzuzu Hotel that day I learnt that the politician was a strategist for the main opposition party in the country. He was, according to Zikomo, conducting surveys on how popular the opposition party was prior to the next year’s tripartite elections.
“But I think you guys are missing it out,” I said as the man explained the purpose of his visit.
“How do you mean?” Daniel Phiri, the politician, queried.
“I mean you’re not supposed to make us who live in the cities as main targets to your propaganda,” I returned. “If you do your impact will be abysmal. We’re only a fraction of the masses who will vote in the next year’s elections. You must have those in the rural areas on your side if you are to make it.”
Zikomo and Daniel Phiri, the politician nodded.
Thrilled I continued. “Emulate Chenji Golo. He talks to people who really matter, people who are in the villages.”
“There I won’t keep quiet,” Zikomo cut me short. “Chenji Golo is as clueless as the government which he is serving as Minister.”
“I thought so too,” Daniel Phiri, the politician chipped in. “The guy talks like a woman.”
“Chenji Golo must be permanently high on ‘Blackberries’,” Zikomo returned. “When has he ever spoken sense since he joined Masiteni’s government? Today, he talks about opposition leaders emulating mating dogs. Tomorrow he lies about somebody’s age. Chenji Golo is naturally drunk.”
“But he is a mosque-going Muslim,” I said.
“I’m also a church-going protestant,” Zikomo retaliated.
We laughed. Being a Saturday, Mzuzu Hotel–which is usually full of life on Fridays–was not as lively.
“Shall we change venues please?” I begged.
“Not until you strike a deal,” was Zikomo’s response.
Daniel Phiri, the politician, explained the deal. I was supposed to accompany him wherever he went for the whole month of August on his political escapades in the Northern Region at a handsome pay.
Zikomo nodded at each word.
“So when are you making the first payment?” I asked.
“As a matter of fact I have already started,” Daniel Phiri, the politician said. “Zikomo has told me that you have no problem getting paid in kind as I’m doing now–paying for your beers. Do you?”
“No,” Zikomo answered. “Of course he doesn’t. We can just drink beers for this whole month of August.”
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