Atcheya the philanthropist


Granted, the title ‘chair’ became famous during former president, Bakili Muluzi’s reign.

And Atcheya— meaning, the former president— had this unrivalled sense of humour, the kind Malawians had not been accustomed to. Maybe that is why they embraced him.

Of course, I do not really understand Atcheya. I mean, the former president.


One day, I bumped into him at a funeral in Bangwe, Blantyre— I do not know which year; maybe I am getting old. All I know is that he had long retired from Sanjika Palace. There were about nine people close to the podium. By nine, I am including myself.

Atcheya— the former president— greeted every one of the eight except me. He actually came close to greeting me but, while he was a metre or so from me, suddenly turned back.

I looked at Atcheya, wondering why he singled me out for a ‘non-greeting’! Probably, Atcheya did not put his bullet proof on! You know how some people look in a bullet proof vest: like a penguin! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Remember, each ha! is for the 12 tribes of Israel.


Let me get over Atcheya. His right hand belongs to him and he is free to extend it to whoever he wants to, me excluded!

Rather, I want to talk about Atcheya who greets people. I am talking of the Atcheya who has nearly eclipsed the real Atcheya. I am talking of Frank Naligonje, the presidential mimicker.

Now, last Saturday, I decided to go shopping at, of all places, Kachere Trading Centre in Blantyre. This is a place along the Zomba-Limbe Road.

As I waited for a minibus to take me back to Limbe [Blantyre], Atcheya popped up from nowhere and started greeting everyone, including me. He actually gave me a high five.

He threw one joke, involving, of course, the original Atcheya. In the joke, Atcheya, the original one who did not greet me, was expressing surprise that some mature people can forgo their old wives for a born-free!

Now, after the new Atcheya said a joke that rounded on the subject of infidelity, he bought sweets for everyone who was around; instead of us paying him.

How I laughed. Why did he pay us for doing nothing, instead of the opposite? Truthfully, I enjoyed the taste of the sweets. It has been a long time since I tasted it. In Chichewa, they call it kanindo. Thanks for the kanindo, Atcheya. Well, it turns out we have a new philanthropist in town. Atcheya!

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