Chindime, ‘borrowed faces’


I never believed Edward Lorne, renowned author— of course, non-Malawian— when he said: “Art is long and life is short.”

Until, of course, I met Chindime face to face [I mean, from a distance of five metres] on June 3 this month. The venue was the Sanctuary in Lilongwe.

Clad in a short-sleeved shirt and… the counter hindered my view, so that I could not see whether he was wearing a pair of trousers or shorts, let alone their colour.


But that is irrelevant.

Let me start by unbundling Lorne’s words— that art is long while life has a short span. We all know why life is short. Few of us live up to 100 years, or do we? Will we? Okay, let us put it at 150 years!

And, then, the issue of art being long. What does it mean? I think it means art knows no boundaries. Nobody can build a wall around art, because art has a way of popping out.


I guess we are settled on life being as short as art is long. Back to our business.

So, knowing how painfully short life can be, Chindime the stand-up comedian decided to visit Sanctuary in Lilongwe on June 3 to make merry while life lasts. That is how best we treat life.

What I liked about Chindime is his idea of stretching art beyond the stage, or private and public events he performs at. This evening, Chindime decided to entertain the people he was drinking, whatever he was drinking, with.

The first joke he threw at the unfortunate man who was so fortunate to be the subject of Chindime’s generosity went like this:

Iwe, tatenga Botolo limodzi apo! (Hey, get one drink)”.

The other man, probably in his 50s, responded: “[Paja alimi a ku Central Region mukakolola fodya kukonda kugulagula (How could I forget that you, our friends from the Central Region, splash cash like nobody’s business, especially when you have sold your tobacco).”

Chindime was not one to keep quiet:

Unachoka kutali iwe, mpaka pano abale ako anakuyiwala. Wafika ku tawuni tadzingomwa apa! (You have come a long way to the Capital City. Make merry while enjoying the sun in town)”.

The other man was not to be scooped. He ventured: “Bola ine ndidachoka kumudzi koma ndi ine okongola. Ngati ka mtsikana. (“It is well with me unlike you who, although you have the cash to splash on me you do not have…”

Chindime cut him short.

Maybe he sensed ‘danger’. But the man was not to be stopped. “You….”

But Chindime did not even give the man a chance to continue with whatever he wanted to say. Instead, it was Chindime who threw a joke at the man; a joke that would, in his view, be enough to finish the man off.

“Iwe usasokose apa. Kodi chifukwa chiyani anthu ngati inu mumakhala ndi nkhope zokhwepa? Zimachita kukhala ngati Mulungu adangoyikiza nkhopeyo mwa temporary, kuti adzapitiriza mawa.

Koma pobwera mawa adapeza mwathawa nayo nkhope ija; kubwera nayo pa dziko la… (Hush. Why is it that some of you have oversized faces? It is like you interrupted God while he was still working on your faces. You run away with the face while it was work in progress and…)”

Ask me, did the man wait for Chindime to finish? He called it a night!

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

Indeed, “Art is long and life is short”.

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