At first, it was when the Malawian football player died.
His death, widely attracting attention, was what spurred the thoughts.
Douglas Chirambo, for that was his name, died a pauper. His health failure was talked about on social media while the traditional media kept feeding us news of the fights going on in the club he had played for. In other words, his plight was the footnote in the debates of football administrators. You can doubt they even talked about him. You can be sure they never did.
The day he died, the tongues started wagging in the corridors of football power in Malawi. The day he was to have his body transferred to be laid to rest in his home village in the rural parts of Malawi was the day football administrators started talking about the plight of Malawian football players.
Before that, nothing. Silence.
It was enough the football players made them money. Enough they provided entertainment. Enough they, the administrators, were basking in glory.
Chirambo was not the first one. Thank the Malawian culture of believing not to record events and activities, a lot of players have died poor and forgotten yet their names shall not be remembered. Except when we are trying to celebrate the golden days of football, which were not golden really.
The day I heard of his death, I thought. Deep and hard.
I thought of all the police officers who have been killed in the line of duty. I thought of that musician, that other musician, the other musician as well, who died poor while broadcasters owed them royalties. I thought of the actor whose stage and radio skills mesmerized us yet when in the dusk of his life he was poor, alone and confused. Abandoned.
I wondered who was to blame. The system. Our economy. Or the characters.
The thoughts I had that time were aptly captured in the article Another death, still no remorse...
Then, May 1 came.
May 1 is the day that holds memories. Apparently, the month of May has mixed fortunes for me.
If I were to write a book on May, I would go superstitious. And, of course, it will not be a small book.
That day, however, I was focusing on May 1. 2013. The events of that day, with my family, we have less talked about them.
It is a page that is yet to be finished. Sometimes, you want to forget the events. Other times, you enjoy remembering them.
The time I logged into this blog, the title of the article was Reliving 1 May...
Now, came today.
I have, from a comfort of a distance, followed the United Kingdom elections. I had a chance to vote but then I procrastinated and did not vote. Nevertheless, with the mood you cannot just pretend you live under a rock and ignore everything.
I remembered going for voting, in Malawi. The environment was tense. The aura charged. The confusion could be felt in the sky that kept wavering around blue and grey and something. Something only an anxious Malawian can understand.
Reports, before I went for voting, were that in some centres there were no materials. The actions pointed to a flawed election. I vowed I would not vote until a friend encouraged me. I voted. Peter Mutharika. Now, Malawi President.
The night they announced the results I was at work. Away from the work station, at a musical show, but at work. The joys of being in the Arts and Entertainment of the Times Group.
After the results, we were afraid. We saw violence break out. The streets had been deserted hours before the announcement. At 4 the streets were empty despite that the results would come out most likely at 12. Everybody was afraid of the other. It was cold war. Nobody knew who would start the violence but everyone was sure there would be violence. Regardless of the winner.
The election had of course been irregular. Instead of a day for voting, it came to three. Instead of two days for results, it graduated into a week. Everything was upside down.
Now, today, I thought of that election. And the UK election. The differences. The expectations. The campaigning.
Then, I remembered in Burundi. The President wants to seek another term despite the complaints of the constitution, and the people. He has twisted the arms of the judiciary. They have allowed him to. But the people.
The people are stronger. They are pouring in the streets. Protesting. Dying. Others are fleeing. They say 40,000 have fled the last time I saw.
Pierre Nkurunziza, the President of Burundi, hardly cares about the deaths. The voice of the people. He has confirmed he is seeking a third term. Like Bakili Muluzi of Malawi. Like Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso. Like Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal. Like Yoweri Museveni of Uganda. Like Sam Nujoma of Namibia. Like Paul Biya of Cameroon. Like, anyway, the other African President's this list must have forgotten.
I wanted to write an article titled The problem, Africa, is you and me...
Now, three drafts later, this is what I have to show.
Like a poor Malawian player at point of death, I have less to show but one article. Like the me arrested on May 1, my thoughts have been swamped and condensed into one. Like the African President thinking three is one.