THE MEMORY CARD

I nearly missed the coach. I arrived at Mbobe Filling Station (I didn’t know the name of the place until this day!) just in the nick of time. After paying my fare I went to the upper deck and perched on a window seat. I like window seats and probably everybody does. I understand some airlines charge extra for window seats.

On the two seats in front of me was a foreign couple by the look of their complexion and language. They hugged and kissed each other almost the whole trip. This is not typical of Malawians. Directly behind me was a Malawian lady probably in her early 20s. I didn’t physically see her but she kept talking on her mobile phone for a distance of not less than 30kms all the time attempting to sound American. The seat next to mine, the aisle seat, was unoccupied but directly across the aisle was a lady who was very busy with her laptop for almost the whole journey.

The engine of the bus being way below us there was deafening silence in our deck even after the bus had coughed into life. That’s what makes me miss the local bus sometimes. In a local bus there is always noise. People talk about politics and other issues and you can learn a lot of things by simply listening to them. This is not the case in these coaches and the journey becomes boring. Beautiful as the coach was, there was neither music nor movies being played to entertain us. The video screens that we could see hanging on the roof of the coach were only for decoration.

I, therefore, had to find a way of entertaining myself. Unfortunately I had given the only Christian book I had taken on this trip to somebody in Mzimba. So I pulled out my Nokia mobile phone from my pocket and connected the headphones. I had loaded several Gospel albums that I found on my friends’ computers onto my 8GB memory card. I was ready to listen to music all the way to Blantyre. I went straight to the music section of the phone and to my surprise and shock there was no single album listed. I shook my head in disbelief. I then opened File Manager and saw that drive C was there with the disk size and drive E (memory card) was there but without disk size. When I clicked on the latter this dreaded message was displayed “Card is corrupted and cannot be opened”. Oh my heart sank. So I had lost all the music, photos, videos and other information? Desperation set in. How has it become corrupted? Then I remembered something.

Earlier in the day my colleague in the project asked me if she could load my memory card in her phone to see if internet would work. The internet never worked even with the memory card inside. Since I was in a hurry for the coach I removed the memory card while it was still being accessed by the phone and she also warned me that she had lost the functionality of her external hard drive because it was disconnected from a pc while it was being accessed. These memories brought more desperation into my heart.

I then switched off the phone, waited for some few seconds and then switched it on again hoping it would perhaps work. To my dismay and grief the same dreaded message appeared “Card is corrupted and cannot opened”.

Now what else could I do? I just couldn’t stand the thought of losing all what was on the card. As I have already said I had videos, music, photos, Hyssop applications, etc on the card and losing them all really brought desperation. I then bowed down my head and prayed. I wanted my card to be back to normal. When I said “… in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen” I switched off the phone once again, waited for some seconds and then switched it on again. I quickly went to the File Manager and lo and behold there was drive E with the disk size beside it. I quickly opened it and found that my music, videos, etc were all there intact.

Who said God doesn’t repair faulty gadgets?

This reminds me of what happened to a certain gentleman in Nkhotakota. This man’s phone had a faulty charging system or the system itself had outlived its usefulness. So it was constantly put on charge. When Brother Overton Makuta went there the phone was brought to him for prayer. After praying for it not only did God fix the charging system but He even made the phone self-charging. Ever heard of it? The phone kept on charging itself (no charger was connected) for weeks.

WITH GOD ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE. ONLY BELIEVE

WHY I THINK MALAWI WILL NEVER DEVELOP

WHY I THINK MALAWI WILL NEVER DEVELOP

“Where is the signpost?” the man asked while looking around as if he would see it somewhere nearby. The policewoman ignored the question pretending to be busy with yet another offender.

“Show me the sign!” the man insisted. “In the absence of the sign then you are being unfair to us, the motorists.”

I personally agreed with the man. I looked at the policewoman and saw a lady with a heart as hard as stone from Mulanje Mountain. I had heard that you were better off meeting a wizard than a witch and I thought this saying was being proved right before me. I remained on my seat with the charge sheet in my hand which the lady had given to me. She said that I was driving at 133km/hr and yet the maximum speed on the roads of Malawi was 100km/hr for small cars like mine. She handed me the charge sheet and without waiting to hear my response she went away to stop other speeding cars. This showed clearly that she was not interested in negotiations at all. You see, I had spent over a week in Lilongwe and was anxious to get home. Besides, I wanted to spend a few hours in my office before proceeding home hence the high speed.

I was in the company of a French national. He got interested in what was going on and became curious to take photos. He managed to take the first photo unnoticed but was spotted when he continued shooting. Along came a policeman and spoke to him, “It is an offence to take a photo of a police officer on duty. You understand?”

“Sorry I didn’t know,” apologized my friend.

“Please delete the photos in my presence,” commanded the policeman and my friend did indeed delete the photos while the policeman was watching.

I got off the car and went and stood by the policewoman’s side while the other man was still challenging the charge. “This is unfair,” he continued. “There is no sign here!”

“There is no need for a signpost!” answered back the policewoman. Another police officer was busy with the camera trying to avoid arguing with the man lest his attention be distracted and let speeding cars pass. A third police officer was seated under a tree issuing receipts. There was no house nearby and this was on a straight stretch of the road that passed through a bushy area.

“Did you go to a driving school?” she asked. I don’t think she expected an answer. “You were supposed to learn about speeds on the roads of Malawi right there. So there was no need for the authorities to erect signposts. Where would they erect them after all?

“If you don’t have money just say so. Don’t hide behind lack of signpost. By the way, you seem to be drunk or do you want us to bring a breath analyser?”

The guy didn’t respond. He just went and paid his fine. I followed suit. I paid MK3,000 instead of the normal fine of MK5,000.

Now while speed limit of 50km/h at trading centres may be understandable I feel maximum of 100km/h on all roads to be very unrealistic. The distance from Blantyre to Lilongwe is only about 330km and travelling at a constant speed of 100km/h (if that were possible) you would take about 3 hours. But realistically this is not possible as there are corners to be negotiated at much lower speeds, road blocks, and worst of all there are 50km/h zones which really are a nuisance to many motorists. Besides the 60km/h speed limit within the city you have, beginning from Blantyre, the following 50km/h zones and roadblocks: Lunzu, Lirangwe, Mdeka, Shire (Zalewa), Kammwamba, Phalula, Senzani, XXXX, Chingeni, Balaka Market, XXXX, Kampepuza, Ntcheu, XXXX, Lizulu, XXXX, XXXX, Dedza, Chimbiya, Linthipe III, Linthipe I, Kamphata, Nathenje, Nanjiri, Bunda Turn Off and then you enter the 60km/h zone (XXXX denotes a place whose name I can’t recall). If you take all this into account you find that it takes more than 5 hours to cover the distance between Blantyre and Lilongwe. Any wonder that Malawi remains a poor country? Whoever said time is money knew what they were talking about. We lose a lot of money in terms of the time we waste.

 

 

Take it from me. Malawians don’t value time. This reminds me what happened one day as I was on my way to Lilongwe by coach. Just before Chingeni someone threw a stone and broke glass and we took an hour at Chingeni roadblock just to give a report to the police. One full hour!

What beats me right in the face is the fact that we don’t seem to take notice of these factors that negatively affect our economic growth. We allow people to do business right by the roadside or even in the middle of the road and then punish motorists by forcing them to drive at tortoise speed. Take, for example, Lunzu in Blantyre and Lizulu and Kampepuza in Ntcheu where the markets span across the main road. Though the speed limit is 50km/h you can’t even dare drive through at 30km/hr at these places. You have to crawl through almost at zero km/h lest you knock someone down. Do we have planners in the government? Why don’t they move the markets off the road? M1 road connects 2 major cities of Malawi. These are commercial cities with concentration of business people who control – to some extent – the economy and yet we force them to waste lots of valuable time with unrealistic speeds.

The only thing I think the planners did well was to make the road pass some distance away from Dedza town centre. However, though the road is away from the Dedza town centre these authorities imposed a 50km/h speed limit over a distance of almost 5 km. Why when there is no trading centre along the road?

Unfortunately those in authority don’t have to obey traffic rules. When they travel by road between the cities they drive at very high speeds with sirens blaring ahead of them. Everybody has to give way. The traffic police officer hides his speed trap camera until the authorities pass. If they too followed the rules I’m sure by now some of these unrealistic laws would have been repealed but the cries of a common man like me fall on deaf ears.

If the police were as passionate about ending crime as they are with traffic would we have crime today?

By the way, do you know that Malawians are said to be the slowest in the world? Check this out http://www.japanprobe.com/2011/03/07/malawi-the-land-of-slow-walking/ A distance an average Japanese takes 11 seconds a Malawian in Blantyre takes 30 seconds. Then you think we will ever develop? I doubt!

One of the characteristics of successful people in the world is that they want to do things fast. Bill Gates is on record to have been fined several times for overspeeding. There is an interesting interview here (http://beginnersinvest.about.com/od/billgates/l/blbillgatesint5.htm).

I’m not saying overspeeding is good but the speed limits must be realistic and 100km/h is not, at least to me! Can authorities look into this please?

 

MY MEETING WITH THE HONOURABLE MP

When I walked into the consultation room I couldn’t take my eyes off the well bearded man sitting behind the desk. On one wall was a large photo of him still with the long beard. I am not sure if he is indeed a doctor or medical officer but on the door was a label “Doctor In. Please Keep quiet”.

He then pointed me to a seat.

“Muli bwanji (how are you)?” he greeted me while looking at my MASM card. I thought it was obvious that my coming into his room was a sign that all was not well with me but as a well disciplined Malawian and as a matter of courtesy I managed to answer him.

“I am fine. How are you?”

Whether he answered me or not I can’t rcall.

He then looked at the MASM card that I had presented to him.

“Yes, Ophara. What can I do for you?” Before I could answer his question he became interested in my name.

“Ophara, where are you from?” he asked.

“From Phalombe,” I answered.

“Which part of Phalombe?”

“Around Likulezi River, just before Holy Family Hospital. You know the place?”

“Yes, I do. I have a friend there in Phalombe but hails from Nambazo area. He’s the MP for that area.”

“Ok. I know the area,” I answered but I must quickly admit that I wasn’t 100% right for though I was born and raised up in Phalombe I’m not familiar with the district especially the northern part where Nambazo happens to be.

He smiled before adding “I am also the MP for my area in…” he mentioned the district.

“Oh is that so?”

My perplexion did not escape his attention.

“Yes I am honourable…” he mentioned his name. “When people come in here they think they meet an ordinary person not knowing I am honourable MP.”

I laughed as a matter of courtesy but within me there was this feeling that we were wasting other patients’ time as they had to meet the same honourable doctor. Now I realized why the client who went in before me had spent what I felt like an eternity with him until my patience almost had run out. He (the doctor) too might have realized the effect of our personal chat on those who were waiting on the queue just outside his office for he quickly came to the real business.

“Yes, so what can I do for you, Ophara?” he asked.

I started narrating my problems and before I was through his mobile phone buzzed. He picked it up, looked at the dial and smiled before answering the call.

“Hello!”. Pause. “Yes, I’ll shortly go to meet him.” Another pause. “We are planning to hold a rally at Njamba this Sunday.”

I knew now that he had temporarily suspended his medical profession and had turned to politics.

“We would like to inform Amayi that time of mourning is over,” he continued.

I’m not sure whether this mourning was for the late president or somebody else.

“Hahahahahaha! ” he laughed loudly before proceeding, “yes, we have to tell her time for mourning is over. She now needs to get down to business. The whole president cannot go to Phalombe just to distribute food items. And to put hot pepper on an already painful wound she goes there together with cabinet ministers, members of parliament, principal secretaries and a host of other dignitaries who have to receive allowances on each trip and yet she claims she has come up with economic recovery plan. What kind of recovery plan is this when she is wasting taxpayers’ money doing things that her juniors could do at a much lower cost?”

I began enjoying the conversation but at the same time I felt we were also wasting other patient’s time. By this time he had just written something on my card and this conversation was going far too long for my liking.

“Just hold on,” he spoke into the mouthpiece. He then turned to me. “Amwene tangopitani ndi card’yi kwa cashier and then you go to the lab.”

“But I haven’t finished telling you my problems,” I protested.

“Ok. Ok. Ok.” He then held up the phone to his mouth and said “Aise ndikuimbirabe posachedwapa.”

That’s when he gave me time to tell him my problems. No wonder within a few minutes he was gone leaving only one doctor to attend to the clients who by this time had grown in number.

Politicians!!! I just hope he won’t read this post and “revenge” when I next visit his hospital. I’m just narrating my experiences.

By the way, did I tell you that one day I was given wrong drugs at another private clinic? That’s a story for another day.

 

Long Live Malawi

THE LOCKED DOOR

Lilongwe, Lilongwe, Lilongwe! It seems every time I visit this city I experience something strange. On this particular day I was in Lilongwe on duty but I used public transport and as such I was relying on the staff bus which picked staff from various points within the city.

I was lodging at Area 11 Villa which is next to Capital Hotel. It’s one of the best lodges in Lilongwe. The staff are just excellent in terms of hospitality. It’s very quiet and secure. The rooms themselves are of superb quality. Should you go to Lilongwe next time and want a place for comfort you’ll never regret lodging at this place. Their rates are also competitive.

It was at this beautiful place where I found myself stranded. When I got up in the morning I went into the washing room and before I took a bath I decided to go back into the bed room. I tried to open the door to the room and, to my shock, found that the door couldn’t open. I gave up the struggle and instead had a shower. Thereafter I went back to the battle front. I tried to open the door but it just couldn’t open. I tried with all my might to pull the door open. It seems the rod that moves the latch out of the door frame slot when you pull the door handle had moved out of the handle so that turning the handle had no effect on the rod. Time was running out and soon the staff bus would be here to pick me.

When I realized that I was fighting a losing battle I decided to call for help. Unfortunately the bathroom window faced away from the front of the building.

“Please help”! I cried out in embarrassment and waited for response but none came. To make matters worse I was on the upper floor. Perhaps my cry for help was heard by those outside the Villa premises.

“Please help me open the door”! I cried louder.

“Chonde ndithandizeni kuno”! I changed to Chichewa just in case someone heard me but didn’t know English.

After what looked like eternity I saw a man going away from the building. I cried even louder “Please help me here, please”! but he disappeared without response.

I remained still in the room like a bird that was caged and was bruised after hitting the cage in a failed attempt to escape. I then gathered up all the strength that was left in me and gave a final SOS cry. “Help me please!”

“Eee tikubwera (we are coming to your rescue)”. Whew, someone at last had heard me. “What’s the problem, Sir?”

“I can’t open the door to the room from the bathroom”.

“Oh, sorry, Sir. We’ll try to help you. Unfortunately we don’t have a spare key for your room. We could have opened the toilet door from your room. Just wait while we look for ladders.”

Meanwhile my fellow staff had already given up on waiting for me having been told of my problem. The driver told the Villa staff that he would come back later for me.

After a while a ladder was put up against the wall and a man came up with a chisel and a hammer in his hand. He managed to remove louvers from the window and joined me in the room through the window. He then opened the door for me.

Lilongwe!!!!!!!

 

THE ACCIDENT THAT SAVED GOD’S CHILDREN

Brother Kasawala and his wife were on their way home from Blantyre where they had gone to visit relations. They were waiting for transport just opposite Shoprite at Chichiri. This was on the eve of 2011 Christmas.

Joseph on this particular day was driving a Mercedes Compressor. It wasn’t his. It belonged to Blessings. They had to exchange cars as Blessings wanted to use Joseph’s 7 seater Toyota Gaia to Salima where they went to attend Christian meetings. Joseph set off to town in the company of his wife and as they were passing Shoprite they saw Brother Kasawala and his wife at the bus stop and stopped for them.

“God bless you, Brother”, said Brother Kasawala as he opened the passenger’s door.

“Where are you coming from”? It was obvious they were going back home, Luchenza, Thyolo, hence Joseph didn’t ask them where they were going.

I wish there were designated places where cars would run out of fuel but alas with the current fuel crisis cars run out of fuel anywhere. These are the days when we drive our cars by faith, believing we will make it to our destination but not always does this faith work. And for sure it didn’t work for Joseph on this particular day for as he was trying to drive into the Limbe market compound the engine stalled. The car was at a slope and unfortunately another car driven by a lady was immediately behind this beautiful Merc. Joseph quickly applied the hand brake. In his confused state he wanted to slide backwards by releasing the hand brake and applying the foot brake.

He must have thought he was driving his automatic Toyota Gaia. Nay, this was a Mercedes Benz with a manual transmission system and operations of this vehicle are different from the rest of the cars. I remember two days after this incident I was asked to drive a “Just Married” couple in a borrowed Mercedes Benz. Oh gosh how embarrassing it was when I failed to engage a reverse gear after visiting Blue Lagoon where photographs were taken. The rest of the convoy had to wait for me as I struggled with the gear lever until they had to push me in order to change direction. Don’t laugh at me. Next time you are asked to drive a car that you have never driven before, especially these fancy ones, make sure you are clearly given instructions on how to operate it.

Now hydraulic brake system works well when the engine is running. When the engine is off the foot brake pedal stiffens and the steering wheel becomes as hard as those of UTM buses in the 80’s. So when Joseph released the hand brake the car rolled backwards and he failed to control the motion with the foot brake. In no time the Merc rammed into a Toyota Corsa that was behind it pushing it into the main road before ramming into it again. The Corsa lady screamed.

“Oh why Lord?” Joseph sighed, not knowing what to do next.

Brother and Sister Kasawala could clearly see the minibus that was to take them to Thyolo. They pondered over the accident and felt guilty to leave Joseph and his wife alone in that state. They accompanied them to the police station and then to Ndirande where the Corsa lady’s husband was as this matter required his attention.

By God’s grace both cars were not badly damaged. When the Corsa lady’s husband saw his wife’s car he uttered words that put Joseph at ease.

“Ahh kodi vuto lake ndi limeneli (Is this the case)? Ambwiye (Uncle) don’t worry. Go and enjoy your Christmas”!

Joseph couldn’t believe his ears. He expected to pay for all the charges that would go into the repairs of the vehicle. But they just shook hands and parted while Joseph thanked God for His intervention.

When Brother Kasawala and his wife finally reached the bus depot they found that the minibus they thought of taking had already left and had to wait for another one. They were delayed quite alright but they were relieved that they had been with the one who had showed them kindness in his troubles. They jumped into another minibus and before long they heard that the minibus that had left them had been involved in a fatal accident where all the passengers except two perished. They passed the pitiful site shaking their heads while thanking God for saving their lives. So the delay was for a purpose?

Wow, God’s ways are indeed not our ways.

When I Doubted Going To Church Was Necessary

Our head office in Europe had organized a workshop for all IT specialists in Africa and I was invited to attend the workshop. As a matter of fact Malawi was initially not included on the programme but when the organizers noticed that they still had 3 places available they extended the invitation to Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Malawi.

“Please send Ophara to Mombasa. Sorry for inviting you at such a short notice”, read the email in part which was sent to the director of finance. I was happy they mentioned my name in black and white otherwise somebody else might have gone there (when I returned and as I was reporting to one of my bosses how I had traveled he said “only that I didn’t want to go there myself” . This made me realize that it was good the organizers had explicitly mentioned who was to attend the workshop). Within a day I had my air ticket ready and the second day I was on my way to Mombasa.

When I arrived in Mombasa on the morning of Sunday 11th January I was so tired that I felt like sleeping straight away but something urged me to go to Church. (You know, I had hardly slept the previous night. I had worked till about 10pm and then went to the airport. The flight was at 2:20am arriving at Nairobi around 5:30am which is 4:30am Malawi time).  I asked for a pentecostal church and was directed to Crossroads Church just a few kilometres from Nyali Hotel. I quickly took a shower and took a taxi to Crossroads. I took the taxi driver’s number and told him I would call him after the service.

I was very early as the service would be starting in an hour’s time. In no time I was dozing uncontrollably. I must confess I didn’t enjoy the service because of this fatigue. I regretted. I felt it was just as good as missing the service in the first place. I should have taken time to sleep and get refreshed. Little did I know God had a purpose in all this.

At the end of the service I decided not to call for the taxi but rather walk back to the hotel enjoying the scenic views on the way. I convinced myself that I would not be lost and indeed I successfully made my way back to the hotel.

On the third day of the workshop I decided to inform my internet friend, Patrick Abungu, of my presence in his home country. Little did I know he was from the same Mombasa. He was then in Netherlands doing his masters degree. The reply I received from him was not what I had expected. “Please visit my family. I’ve already informed my wife and she will be expecting you”.

I knew Patrick through another internet friend in Botswana, Ntikwe, who I knew through yet another internet friend in Zimbabwe, late Blessings. I’ve now forgotten how I came to know Blessings.

When I told my fellow participants at the workshop about my intention to visit a family in Tudor they all told me not to go ahead with the plan as I was new in this place. They feared for my life but I assured them I was safe. So on the eve of my departure back to Malawi I asked the driver of our vehicle to drop me in Tudor where I was met by three children who led me to Patrick’s house.

I was welcomed into the house by Sister Liez, Patrick’s wife, who was accompanied by Lavina, a close friend of Liez’s, Brian and 2 other children.

Now as we were chatting in the house I didn’t seem to be in a hurry. I really took my time sharing with them my home experiences and delicacies as I also enjoyed listening to theirs. I must have thought Mombasa was as small as my beloved city, Blantyre. I was shocked when Brian later told me that we would have to take 3 matatus (minibuses) to get to Nyali Beach Hotel. My heart sank when I thought Brian had to take the same route back to Tudor. That was well after 9pm.

When we were waiting to take the third matatu I suggested to Brian we take the motor cycle taxi which was readily available. I didn’t want to waste any more time. I had turned down dinner at the house so had to be in time for dinner at the hotel. After negotiating the fare we jumped on the motorbike and the rider told us he knew the place where we were going. It was the first time for me to take a motorbike ride without wearing a helmet. In my country it is a strongly enforced law to always have a helmet on whether you are the rider or the passenger failing which you can be fined heavily. In addition, to have 2 passengers on one motorbike is totally inconceivable in my country. Anyway there we were with the rider struggling to balance the bike with the weights of the 2 passengers. He was lucky because I didn’t weigh more than 53kgs. In fact I have never weighed more than 57kgs in the many years that the Lord has allowed me to live on this beautiful planet while my wife’s weight ranges from 90 to 100kgs.

About 15 minutes later we passed a certain place where I saw a notable landmark, a sculpture of a large crocodile. I instantly told our “driver” to stop. “We are lost”, I said. I had seen this sculpture when I visited Crossroads Church and the signpost of the church was just a few metres away. “Now from here follow my directions. Let’s go back.”

We took the road in the direction of where we had come from and I led our driver to Nyali Beach Hotel. I was there just 5 minutes before 10:00 p.m. when the restaurant would be closed and that was also the time my colleagues had finished drinking and we all had our dinner together. They had earlier expressed worry about my safety in the strange land when I dropped in Tudor but I had assured them all was going to be alright. So they were happy to see me safely in their midst.

Then I thought my going to church the previous Sunday was for a purpose even though I was dozing during the service. If I did not recognise this landmark where would we end up at? Would Brian be able to get back to Tudor in good time? I was glad when he sent me a message that he had arrived safely back home.

For everything there is a purpose. When you prosper or suffer or feel inconvenienced or  do something that you yourself don’t understand don’t get excited or worried. God might have a purpose in your situation.

THE HARD WON BATTLE

“Do you promise to love Rose the rest of your life?” Pastor Kalua asked me. I had a Bible in my hand raised up for everyone to see.

“Yes, I do”, I responded

This was on Saturday 1st October 1994 and we are celebrating 17 years of successful marriage today, Saturday 1st October 2011.

I was a Mathematics teacher then at a private secondary school in Mzuzu and had advised my students never to attend my wedding. I was shy. I didn’t want to make those vows in their presence. However, some of them defied my advice and did attend.

It was like a dream come true. I had fought this battle for nearly 2 years and here I was making this solemn vow that would remain with me for the rest of my life. My prospective parents-in-law had doubts a non-Tumbuka would really care for their beloved daughter. My “predecessors” who were working on Mzuzu-Karonga road had not done a good job. They had married the local girls and gave them children but they disappeared when the project was over. This caused the locals to lose confidence in the Chewas, for that’s what they used to call everyone who was a non-northerner.

I was in my fifth (final) year at the Polytechnic and the college had been closed due to the misunderstandings that had arisen between the students and the registrar over the death of our fellow students and staff. The accident occurred at Thondwe as the college minibus carrying students who had gone to Chancellor College for sports swerved and dived into Thondwe river killing about 3 students and the driver. Since the closure was unexpected and we were forced to leave the premises by the end of the day we were offered travel warrants. I was reluctant to use travel warrants to go home which was only 80km away. I had to make better use of this opportunity. I then remembered there was a convention in Mzuzu 700km away at Pastor Kalua’s church. That’s how I was found in Mzuzu in December 1992. I went there with a keyboard, Yamaha PSS 570, that belonged to the Newlands Church.

At the end of the convention I was asked to remain behind to record instrumentals for Brother Phiri. I was then transferred to the Pastor’s house and while there I saw this girl, Rose Munthali, who was staying in the same house. There were lots of girls in the house and in the neighbouring believers’ houses but I couldn’t just take my eyes off this particular lass. Yes I was still at college and the future was a little blurred with the closure of the college but I was determined to take her. Yes, I had prayed but did not have a vision or a dream or any direct answer from God but I felt led to her. Sometimes God speaks in inaudible voice, doesn’t He? I therefore had to make a move without wasting time. I had been taught that a man ought to be brave enough to propose a lady for marriage directly and not through letters. I gathered up courage and with the pastor’s permission, yes I did it. I proposed her for marriage.

“Well, allow me to go and pray first”, she replied.

I waited for about 3 days before the answer came. During this period of waiting there was nothing I enjoyed. Food which otherwise would be delicious ceased to be appetizing. Dreams were disturbed. You see, I had never been in love before so I think you can excuse me for going into an extra gear of excitement.

On 2nd January 1993 I received a note from one of the Pastor’s sons.

“Who is it from”? I enquired.

“From Sister Rose”, the boy replied.

“OK”, I responded before stuffing the note into my pocket. I wasn’t sure of the response. My facial expression changed. I excused myself from my friends and went into my room to read the note. I knelt down and thanked God for this moment.

My mission was over and I had to go back to Blantyre. On Monday 4th January I left for Blantyre but the battle was not over yet. Rose’s parents didn’t want to give their daughter to a Chewa. Never! Pastor Kalua helped me fight this battle. He sent Brother Mighty Kayira to speak to her parents for me. I had not met Brother Kayira before and this posed another challenge. He met tough questions from the parents.

“Do you know, Ophara”? they asked him

“No”, he replied not knowing what else to say.

“Then how come you represent him here?”

“He is my brother in Christ and I know he will take care of your daughter”

After a year of a fierce battle victory was sure to be won.

“Do you promise to obey Ophara, your husband, the rest of your life?” It was now her turn. I watched her and smiled when she said “Amen”.

Ten months later, 26th July 1995 to be more precise, Timothy and Eliezer came along. A double portion! Probably God was rewarding us for the battle well fought and the patience exercised. Joseph and King David came 3 and 4 years later respectively. It just happened that all the children were born in the 90s. It wasn’t planned.

That was 17 years ago today when we tied the knot. I thank God for wonderful things He has done for me. Praise be to Him now and forever.