6/05/2015

Another death, no lesson learnt

Two years is a long time. In politics, it is an eternity. In life, it is a long time. The lessons we learnt, two years ago, tend to be forgotten.

In December 2013, in Balaka, a football fan died. There was a fracas. Police fired teargas and, on the way to save his life, 31 year old Lemiyasi Josita lost it. Mighty Wanderers and Silver Strikers, the two teams playing that day, were condemned. They were punished as well. In 2013. As of 2014, there still was a hangover of the punishment.

The comments that spread across social media were sensible. The anger was rational. And justified. Even the football teams said little, if anything, in their defense. As a nation, Malawi, we joined hands and condemned hooliganism in football.

Some of us, on Facebook, wondered why all the nonsense we call football in Malawi should be worth a death. But then, it appears, it was as good as writing nothing. Nobody read. Nobody heard. Or, if they did, two years is a long time. In football.

In 2015, hardly two  years after the unfortunate loss of Josita, our play that resembles football degenerated into the same chaos. At what is sarcastically called 'the soccer Mecca', a game that resembles football saw the end result not pleasing one of the teams. End result? Violence.

This violence, however, was not just a reactional attack on football supporters. It was a hooliganism unleashed in full force, if the reports concerning the recent death are to be trusted and are sincere. This, the violence, was a naked portrayal of unashamed brutality by a people meant to protect the country. The Malawi Defence Forces.

The reports say the victim, Godfrey Mwale, was on a bus stage. Waiting to take a bus home. For those not in the know, the stage is close to the stadium but not so close to the stadium. You can leave a furnace of violence in the stadium and be assured of sanity on the stage, in some circumstances.

It was at this respectable distance that Mwale met his fate. The officers, who had escaped violence themselves from irate supporters, decided to take all the revenge on Mwale. His haplessness was their drive. His cries as they drove their feet into the hard surface of his skull was their aphrodisiac in the rape of the sanctity of human life.

Half-dead they left the young man. He was later taken to QECH, the major referral, but as all other sacrifices on the altar of blood thirsty gods of football - or something resembling football like that played in Malawi - he did not make it. After a month of mimicking consciousness, slipping in and out of dear life, he surrendered the battle today. 05 June 2015. In the morning.

Like Josita before him, his death has sent tongues wagging. His death has made fingers dance on keyboards Facebooking and, somehow, tweeting. New debates have emerged. Maybe we should ban teams from the military in a civilian league. No we should not.

In the madness of this anger, some new story will take over. The nation's attention will divert to that. The soul of Mwale, a son of a police officer, will slide into its peace. Back to our lives until again some other life is lost, for something that resembles football. The circus will be played again, then!