It is on days like these that I get to remember how blessed I was to work with such remarkable and beautiful minds as Hardy Nyirenda’s and Dingi Chirwa’s.
After an event like the one below, whoever we would send to cover the Melania Trump function would come back and share the usual banter of who did what, where – no notes, nothing, just chit-chat. Then the following day you would walk into the newsroom to find Hardy quietly hunched over on his chair, combing through the day’s newspapers. He would not say much but after he was done, he would walk over to me and throw the paper on my desk
“We got our lead. I knew they would miss it,” he would say, pointing at a particular page or picture. One look at the item and I would know exactly what he meant.
If it was Dingi’s find, you would walk in to find him punching away on that tiny 128 MB Mac LC Desktop (yap, we produced an entire paper on a meagre 128MB toy of a computer in those days!).
‘I have a lead Bwana,” he would say without much of a glance from the screen, pointing at the picture on the folded page beside him. One look and, yeah, we have a lead.
Being a weekly publication, keeping The Democrat attractive was hard work considering we had to compete and outdo two, daily publications that had the advantage of publishing stories as they happened. That meant we had to learn to find nuggets of diamond where others had already dug and dredged if we were to remain relevant. And somehow, we learnt to look at the same things and see what others could not see.
And so on this Friday, today, The Democrat’s story on Melania’s visit to this school would not be on the school or Melania. It would be on the shoes – all the children are wearing shoes. And that is odd. Nothing wrong with school children wearing shoes. But not these children. We know because we were these children, growing up, and we still see ourselves in this particular type of school children. Most of them do not wear shoes. Maybe it was a donation that was made a long time ago by some program that we did not know of. Or may be they just got them before this occasion. But whatever the circumstances, the fact remains that on this day, it is the shoes that are talking. Everything else in the picture looks normal. Except for the shoes.
And so we would follow the story of how ALL the children came to wear shoes for Melania Trump – or maybe not for her. But on this day, our headline would simply be AND THEY ALL WORE SHOES and the sub-text would read: ‘Thank You Melania’ (assuming they are wearing it for the first time).
There are times when people ask me ‘why can’t you restart The Democrat?’ And I am always like, ‘you don’t get it, it can’t be done’. And they’ll be like, ‘why not? Just put a team together and that’s it.’ No. That’s not it.
You see, The Democrat was not a paper, in the sense of a physical newspaper. It was an abstract of sorts, a convergence of minds. It was like the 1989 Malawi National Team. Kinnah Phiri would soar into the air amid the Zambian defenders, poised to head home that corner kick but, at the very last moment, he would duck his head and, somehow, the ball would find itself on the nimble feet of Barnett Gondwe, behind him, who would tap it into the far right corner of the net. Yet Kinnah never turned, not even once, to check where Barnet Gondwe was positioned. He just knew. Just as Barnet knew that Kinnah would not butt it in. It was a connection of minds.
Damn! I miss you guys, miss my team. Especially today. But as they say, there will always be days like these. I hate that saying.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :