Billy the tenant!


The best experiences in life are best lived alone. It is success stories we must share.

I do not know, but I think it is the vulnerability to others that gets us on the road to understanding success when it finally lands on our lap.

Like the story of Billy Kaunda, one-time (is it two-time because he stood twice and won; or one time because his two terms came back to back? Whatever!) Parliamentarian, and one-time tenant in Balaka District.


Now, Billy— gauging by the warm glow around him; using the smile that never escapes his lips as a yardstick-is the kind of fella you would grow a liking to when he is strutting his stuff on stage; and then rarely give much thought to after the performance.

This is because Billy somehow keeps to himself after stage performances and, as such, has not been in the media for the wrong reasons. For the large part, at least!

But, hold on! Billy was once guilty of defaulting on rent payment!


And poor Billy was as dead broke as the landlord was unsympathetic — if not unforgiving!

Now, that is life!

It must be borne in mind that the sixth-born in a family of 11 broke the wall of family members’ resistance to join the music industry in the first place.

But, as destiny would have it, he has songs in his head, which he sings out through his mouth.

Billy said it himself, in The Sunday Times of February 12 2006: “My family protested against my wishes [to join the music industry] arguing that Malawian music has no future. They wanted me to do mechanics but finally let up and gave me a K12, 000 studio fee, which I used for production of my first album.”

Surely, if the family had found its way, Billy would have been into mechanics. He, in that case, would have had a brown or green working suit, a pair of black boots (maybe worn-out), spanners, and what have you!

Imagine Billy in, say, a red overall trying to fix this or that ‘imaginary’ fault. You see, every fault is imaginary unless it has been diagnosed!

But that was not to be.

For Billy is a musician of his own ilk.

He even lives a comfortable life. He even writes scripts for Kwathu Drama Group.

And, yet, Billy was once evicted by a ‘naughty’ landlord in Balaka, of all places.

“I was too broke to pay rent back then,” Billy told The Sunday Times of February 12 2006.

I can imagine the landlord shouting at Billy: “Get out of here! Construct your own house if you can! Do you know where I got the sand used in constructing this house? Do you know where I got the cement? I had to borrow money from a loan shark to construct this house!”

Billy, caught up in a foreign land that is Balaka, and cast out of his own house (when we are tenants, we are owners of the house, albeit temporarily) tries to reason with the ‘unreasonable’ landlord: “I will pay tomorrow. Please let me in! You know this is the rainy season and it will rain soon!”

But the landlord, as worse as they can be, shouts back: “How many times should I tell you? I will throw your belongings out!”

The landlord, with saliva forming in the mouth, goes inside, grabs Billy’s most beloved iron or aluminium pot, and throws it out of the house!

Billy thinks: I have no money, yes; but, at least, I have the energy of youth. Should I beat him up?

Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

It is good that Billy is his own landlord now.

It is good that he no longer watches over his back, or steals glances at an imaginary landlord.

Now, imagine Billy meeting his once ‘naughty’ landlord at Chichiri Shopping Mall in Blantyre, Biwi Triangle in Lilongwe, or Luwinga in Mzuzu City!

As the once naughty landlord (who must have been broke then) looks down, wishing the soil could swallow him, Billy bursts into song: Mwapindulanji? Ah aye! / Mwapatsidwa chani…?

Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

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