It was very early in the morning when my wife received a phone call and from the way she was speaking on the phone I knew something had gone amiss somewhere.

“What’s the matter?” I asked her after the call.

“It’s Mrs K who called”, she replied. “She says her husband has lost his mother”.

The Ks were our neighbors, in fact our closest neighbors. We immediately went to their house though my eyes were still heavy with sleep. We found only the wife and kids in the house as the man was reportedly out in the field from where he would go straight to the funeral without coming home first. The wife therefore needed some transport money which we provided. Burial was on the following day, Saturday.

We started off around noon on a 65km journey. I was in the company of my wife, two other neighbours (ladies) and Mr K’s daughter. When we got there we found the “speech ceremony” had just started in readiness for the journey to the final resting place of the deceased.

I parked my car some metres away before reaching the gathering place. Though there were vacant chairs, as is our custom, I sat on the ground. When I looked to the right I noticed my neighbour also seated on the ground. Surprisingly he didn’t seem to have taken notice of my presence. After a few minutes I decided to sit close to him to offer him my condolences. Again surprisingly he paid no attention to me. I whispered some condolence message to him and he responded. I then dipped into my pocket and fished out some green bank notes. He received them and stuffed them in his pocket without a second glance and immediately took his focus off me. Confused I went back to my original seat.

When we returned from the graveyard there were a few speeches made and then we were released. As I was pondering over what to do next I caught sight of my neighbour. He was in the company of another gentleman. I rushed to him with an aim of bidding him farewell. When I got to the spot where he was standing some two other mortals had already arrived there ahead of me. I then extended my hand to my neighbour to bid him farewell but he seemed to have ignored me for he turned away from me as he was busy talking to someone else. I felt too weak to withdraw my hand so it was still hanging in the air until another good Samaritan grabbed it and smiled though the hand wasn’t meant for him.

When finally my neighbour turned to me I again extended my hand and this time he responded. We shook hands and I bade him farewell. “Thank you very much” is all he said. Feeling confused, embarrassed, discomposed, stupefied and dazed I signaled to my wife that I was heading for the car and that she should hurry up. I didn’t expect to be treated as a special guest but honestly didn’t expect this indifference either. I wobbly sauntered to my car. I sat there with all the windows closed to avoid dust coming in from the passing vehicles.

I was deep in thought when suddenly I saw an image of my neighbour through one of the rearview mirrors. He was walking towards the car. I wondered what he wanted. I didn’t want to get out of the car so I simply wound down the glass.

“Are you going back?” he asked.


“Tiyeni mukamwe kaye madzi”

After arguing for a while the Malawian way I gave in. I followed him like a sheep being led to pasture. He then led me into a small old house. There were no chairs and I had to sit on the floor. Except for my neighbour I was alone in the room. After a while he brought two plates, one for nsima and the other for relish and later brought a basin of water for washing my hands. “Oh, let me also bring drinking water”. He disappeared into what looked like a kitchen and in no time reappeared with a cup of water. I didn’t understand what was happening. Is this the same neighbour who had given me a cold shoulder a while ago? Anyway, I began doing justice to the food. The guy squatted about a metre from me and entertained me with stories. He told me about his clan. He told me about his deceased mother. At one point he excused himself and when he came back he apologised. “Sorry I went out to meet some other people who were also bidding farewell”. He was there with me until I emptied the plates clean.

Why this sudden change of attitude? I was getting more and more confused.

He then led me out of the house. On our way to the car another guy stopped us. He narrated something to my neighbour but my neighbour’s response puzzled me. “You go and sort it out”, he answered. “I’m busy with my neighbour. I’m escorting him”. He then described my house to him and talked a lot. The other guy, with a smile on his lips, shook my hand yet again. We then proceeded with our walk to the car when some boys came up to him with some stories that also needed his attention. As if not wanting me to proceed alone, my neighbour talked to them while holding my hand in his. Honestly, the confusion that engulfed me at this time was much greater than it had been when I was treated like a nincompoop.

When we finally made it to the car we were joined by my wife, the other two neighbours and Mrs K and her daughter. We bade them farewell before driving off.

All the way to Blantyre I was trying to digest what had just happened. Why the sudden change from treating me like a moron to a king? What had happened? I resisted the urge to explain to my wife all this ordeal while driving. I didn’t want the other two ladies to hear about it.

When we finally got home I explained everything to my wife and the answer she gave me solved the whole jigsaw puzzle. You see, guys, we moved into our present house exactly two years ago and since then I had never met Mr K face to face except one night when I went to him to inform him about the demise of my mother-in-law. Yes, I could recognise him thereafter but it seems he had completely forgotten my face. This time it must have been after his wife had told him about me being in the car that he remembered me and gave me the king’s treatment.

Abale tiyeni tiziyenderana mmakwalalamu kuopa kuona zomwe ndinakomana nazo ine pa 12 September 2015 dzana dzana lomweli, laliwisili!!!



I would like to commend the government, previous and the present, for its effort to uplift the status of women through girl child education. I remember we used to have GABLE (Girls Attainment in Basic Literacy Education) which specifically focused on girls’ enrolment in schools. I think at the end of the project it was described as a success which means we have more educated women now than we would have without GABLE’s efforts. This further means we have more women working in offices now. Efforts are still being made to make sure that more and more women take up high positions in government and non-government institutions. There was a time we used to see small girls begging for alms along the streets but now very few of them or none at all continue begging. I presume they were either adopted or they are in orphanages and have been sent back to school. Possibly if this trend continues we should see less and less prostitutes in cities though a close friend of mine  told me that some of the prostitutes are ladies working in companies. I can hardly believe this as I don’t think a lady can be a secretary, cashier, clerk, officer, manageress or nurse during the day and a prostitute at night. It’s like having a man working in an office during the day and a habitual thief at night. Those in offices, from this layman’s perspective, have their own “smart” way of prostituting and stealing without being called a prostitute or thief. Anyway, that’s a discussion for another day.

However, we seem to focus more on the girl child, leaving the boy to struggle alone with education. As mentioned earlier GABLE was for girls only. I’m not very sure if we have any NGO that is doing a similar job for boys like GABLE was for girls. We continue seeing small boys who could have been at school begging along the streets. While educating the girl is important I feel education for the boy is even more important.

Idle Kids

Malawi , just like most poor nations, adopts anything that the Western countries advocate. That’s the problem with being poor. The rich will always dictate to us what to do. America-funded NGOs have been formed to lobby for the rights and promotion of women. Not a bad idea. It’s now common to find adverts that end in “Women are encouraged to apply”. Not a bad idea either. However, if we have more women working than men we should expect chaos.

United States , the champion of democracy and women’s rights, has probably the highest rate of crime. According to In America , the crime clock continues to click: one murder every 22 minutes, one rape every 5 minutes, one robbery every 49 seconds, and one burglary every 10 seconds. And the cost of crime continues to mount: $78 billion for the criminal justice system, $64 billion for private protection, $202 billion in loss of life and work, $120 billion in crimes against business, $60 billion in stolen goods and fraud, $40 billion from drug abuse, and $110 billion from drunk driving. When you add up all the costs, crime costs Americans a stunning $675 billion each year.

  Armed Robber

In my opinion this is the price we pay if we put emphasis on women and in the process ignore the needs of men. It’s also the price we pay whenever we deliberately or otherwise act contrary to God’s Word who said “Because you [Adam] listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:17-19) (NIV)

The man was given the task of fending for the family. This responsibility was not put on the woman. In verse 16 God said  to the woman … “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” Man and woman will eat of his (not her) sweat. That’s the reason the woman was put under his authority. The two were equal before sin came in. One day we shall go back to that condition but that time is definitely NOT NOW.

America has the highest crime rate because of the same policy they have managed to impose on almost all nations: promoting women to high positions. More and more women are being educated sometimes at the expense of men as women are usually given lower passing rates and favoured when it comes to employment. It has been a practice and perhaps it is still a practice for the examination boards to give lower passing rate to girls than to boys. If a boy drops from school he doesn’t receive the same attention as a girl dropout. The end result is that we have many loafing boys who, if they were only encouraged to go to school, would have been earning a living the acceptable way. But pity! There are many boys whose only way of earning a living is stealing and robbery.


These boys we see everyday begging in the streets are being brought up in town. Most of them don’t know their home village. They don’t know farming. But they are growing up. Naturally at one point they’ll need to marry and then raise children. Can they sustain their families through street begging? Since they are not educated can they find a decent job? Nay. What’s the way out for them? Crime! Some of them who are scared to marry because they cannot take care of the wife opt for rape in order to satisfy their lusts.

According to a study by Kerry L. Papps of Victoria University of Wellington and Rainer Winkelmann* of IZA and Centre for Economic Policy Research, London there is some relationship between Unemployment and Crime and crime is closely associated with men and not women, at least in the Malawian context. Crime will be on the increase if more boys drop out of school and therefore fail to secure employment. In fact if you can only get all married women off the offices and give their jobs to the equally qualified but unemployed men then you have much less crime.

According to America has about 6% unemployment. The population of USA is 301,091,077 ( , as of 3 February 2007 2:16pm). Take 6% of this you get about 18 million people unemployed (I don’t know if this is the right interpretation. I can be corrected). Any wonder that crime rate is so high?

According to unemployment stands at 40% in South Africa which is described as the most dangerous country in the world, which is not at war ( . There is something wrong somewhere.

Experience has shown that a working woman can hardly support a jobless husband. I’ve seen marriages breaking up just because the husband was not working and the wife was the sole bread earner. A jobless man naturally feels inferior if he is being supported by his wife. But thank God! His original plan works perfectly well and in fact many men are happier to have housewives than otherwise.

Please understand this layman properly. I’m not saying women ought not to be educated and/or employed. There is literally nothing wrong in educating the woman. There are many single women– whether by choice, divorced or widowed – now working and doing very well who would have otherwise been  suffering had they not been educated. The programme of encouraging women to go to school so that they can be independent later should continue. However, my appeal is that we should not forget the boy child when we are trying to help the girl child in all aspects of life. I know some few years ago there used to be more boys than girls going to school thus the formation of GABLE but now it appears it’s the opposite. We have more girls than boys going to school. It’s high time we saw BABLE formed to encourage boys to go to school to catch up with the girls. Let’s take these young boys off the streets while they are still tamable. Adzatibvutatu awa. Azidzatiberatu awa. Let’s do something before it’s too late!

Nayowoyapo waka apa ine maghanoghano ghane.

So who is ready to join this layman in forming BABLE or at least CABLE (or YABLE) to take care of both sexes?


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.




“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 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 (

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?



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


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.




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.


“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.


Sometimes God, in His wisdom and care for His children, has to inconvenience some people in order to serve His children. He can allow someone to lose their money which will be picked up by His needy child. He will allow people to grow mapira so that His birds should feed on them.

By the way, do you know that we all live on dead things? Something has to die in order for us to live. Isn’t that the reason we rear animals? And we slaughter them without mercy. I can hear someone say “but I am a vegetarian”. My brother, my sister even plants are living things. We kill them in order for us to live. We cannot live without something dying. Oh what a picture of Jesus Christ dying so that we could live! No death no life!!!

Anyway, let me get to my story.

When I was about to start building my house I heard that one of the office blocks at our place of work would be demolished to pave way for a new and modern office block with a warehouse under it and that the materials from the demolished building would be sold by tender. I thought about my house and my eyes fell on the windows. Just imagine getting windows with all the panes and burglar bars in place. All I would need was to paint them. This would be much cheaper than buying new ones. Please don’t laugh at me. These are times of economic hardships and we ought to save where possible.

“Ehhh, if you want those windows your bid should be not less than MK15,000”, this was Maxch telling me after I had told him my mind and that was my problem: I disclosed to almost everyone what my plans were.

“Well, just put them at MK2,500 each”, Funzi, another colleague of mine, whispered to me. “As for me it won’t be more than MK2,500. Why should I make them expensive for myself?” This sounded more sensible.

After much thought and prayer I opened an Excel workbook and typed in what I thought was more reasonable and affordable price. I sealed the document in an envelope and started off for the office of the Assistant Personnel Manager (APM) who was put in charge of the tender documents. I had put my tender at MK9,000 for each window. Midway something whispered to me “go and change the figure. One or two people might have also indicated the same figure”. I ignored it and took two more steps and heard the same voice saying the same statement again. This was not an audible voice but I heard it from within. It was like real. This time around I didn’t ignore it. I went back to my office and changed the figure to MK12,000. Why not MK10,000? You will understand why. Read on.

The day came when the materials would be distributed to the lucky ones. The tender documents were not opened in public. We were just told the results. In fact in my case I knew the materials were being distributed when I saw a crowd of people gathering around the demolished building. I rushed there in high anticipation. I enquired from Dorcas, the lady who was responsible for the distribution, about the windows and she told me they were all given to Fanny, one of the top managers of our company. My heart sank. I had lost the windows.

“How much was her bid?” I asked Dorcas

“MK9,000 each”, she replied. I felt like somebody had pierced my heart with a hot iron. In our organization it is the person with the highest tender who gets the item and I had beaten Fanny’s tender by MK3,000. Why her and not me? Questions without answers ran through my mind and my face was suddenly wrinkled with sadness and disappointment.

Now Fanny, as I have already said, was one of the topmost guys in the organization. Perhaps what I was getting as a monthly salary was what she was paying to Malawi Revenue Authority as PAYE tax. She too had a building project and wanted all the 15 windows to herself. In order to make sure that she had secured the deal she had to speak to the DOF (not Destroyer of Federation but Director of Finance) who had the final say. When all the tenders were submitted the APM prepared a manual worksheet for he didn’t have a computer. To accommodate all the details he had to join two sheets of paper using tape. He then submitted this worksheet to the DOF who then assured Fanny that hers was the highest tender before returning it (the worksheet) to the APM.

When I confronted Dorcas why Fanny had got all the windows when her tender was less than mine she told me the DOF’s word was final. I was very confused but managed to gather up courage and met the DOF as soon as he stepped into his office that afternoon.

“Sir”, I paused as my mind searched for the right vocabulary to impress this white man. “I know your word is final. I’m not disputing this but errr…” I stammered a little as I searched for the best way of presenting my issue. “Well, Sir, the issue is I’ve heard that Fanny has bought all the windows.”

“Yes”, he answered. “So what’s the problem?”

“Sir, can she share the windows with me? I just need a few.”


“Sir, my tender was higher than hers”. I saw a surprise look on his face.

“How much was yours?”


“No. That’s not possible”.

“It is, Sir”

“Ok let me call Rispin”, he said as he reached for his telephone and dialed the APM. “Can you bring your worksheet here, please?” I heard him say into the mouthpiece. In no time Rispin burst into the room with his manual worksheet before laying it flat before the DOF. We all leaned over to check what was written against my name.

Now I understood why the DOF thought my tender was less than MK9,000. My name was right where the two sheets were joined with a tape. The figure 1 in MK12,000 was written on the edge of one sheet and was barely visible making the DOF interpret the figure as MK2,000. What if it were MK10,000? Your guess is just as good as mine.

The DOF shook his head and stared at me. I smiled. “OK, you are right. It’s MK12,000. So what do we do?”

This was not a question that he expected an answer for. He rubbed his hands together as was his habit and then said “I allow you to take as many windows as you want at MK12,000 each and leave the remainder for Fanny at MK9,000 each.”

“Thank you very much, Sir. Thank you indeed”. I had not expected that the issue would end up like this. I got 7 windows and left 8 for Fanny. She was not happy with this turn of events and until today I don’t know if she really understood why my tender was initially misread as MK2,000. Had the DOF read my figure correctly he would have communicated with Fanny and she would have pushed hers to just over my figure even if it were by MK500.

When God says “Yes” nobody, and I repeat nobody, can come in the way. Nobody can say “No”. It may take someone to be inconvenienced, yes, but all is well so long as God’s child has been served.

Now I am not saying Fanny is not a child of God but God sometimes works in a way that is way beyond our comprehension for His thoughts are not our thoughts nor His ways ours. To Him be glory and honour now and forevermore. Amen!

Do you have a need? Don’t look at the size of the problem. Don’t look at the complexity of the issue. The way may look dark. You may not be able to see light at the end of the tunnel. Just take your burden to the Lord and leave it there. How God solves it for you it’s none of your business. He can even blind the eyes of azungu just to make sure that your need is met. Put your trust in Him and He will never let you down. God bless you.

The Angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him [who revere and worship Him with awe] and each of them He delivers. Psalm 34:7, Amplified Bible.