Gwaladi the athlete


Now, mental illness is no laughing matter. It is a state, I would say, that pits one against oneself and one against the world.

What else can I say, considering what happened in Limbe— Blantyre City’s commercial hub— some five weeks ago?

Joe Gwaladi!!! Yes, I mean that proud owner of a bicycle and loud speaker he keeps in tow everywhere he goes. It is like the speakers watch over Gwaladi’s bike!


Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Gwaladi ndi Gwaladi basi!

Now, this Friday in question, Gwaladi was in Limbe— the street that stretches from Pep Stores to Jupiter [Limbe Police] after crossing the main road that takes one to Limbe Bus Depot— shouting on top of his voice as he sold music stored in memory sticks and CDs.

Kupeza nyimbo pano. Ma flash a 4 GB pa mtengo wa K500 yokha. Gwaladi uja ndi uno. Gulani nyimbo motchipa pano!” shouted Gwaladi.


Well, a multitude soon gathered around him. Gwaladi could play one song, his composition of course, and then slip into marketing mood again.

Kupeza nyimbo pano. Ma flash a 4 GB pa mtengo wa K500 yokha. Gwaladi uja ndi uno. Gulani nyimbo motchipa pano! [Buy songs at a giveaway price. For K500, you get a 4 GB flash loaded with songs]”

Maybe he has a script.

Every now and then, Gwaladi could break into dance— the kind of dance reserved for the night.

I do not know the relationship between Malawians and waist wriggling. John Chilembwe, may his soul rest in peace, could not have tolerated it!

It’s what I am thinking, after all.

Gwaladi attracted a number of customers, who splashed K500 notes on him— in exchange for a CD or 4 GB memory card loaded with songs. The buyers loaded Gwaladi with cash, in exchange for whatever song Gwaladi had loaded into the CD or memory stick.

Now, Gwaladi is a clever man. Whenever he gets cash, he does not throw it in an open basket or keep it where crafty minds could connive to take it away from him.

Maybe that’s why he dons a pair of jean trousers. The cloth is strong. Nobody can drill a hole into Gwaladi’s pockets. Do not ask me why he falls for blue pairs of jeans? I have seen him spotting blue ones at times!

Well, Gwaladi must have been dancing when a man, presumed to be mentally unsound, popped onto the scene. I have said, already, that a mentally disturbed man or woman may be forced into a situation that pits them against themselves and the world.

These are people who need our care because, I am not sure about this, they are encased by their own thoughts and live in their own world. In that state, they, surely, cannot view the world the way we do.

Gwaladi, who had been dancing, suddenly stopped. One man in the group was giving him a K500 note in exchange for a CD or flash disk [I have forgotten which one it was] loaded with music.

That is when the man, presumed to be mentally disturbed, snatched the K500 note from Gwaladi’s right hand. Upon which Gwaladi started chasing the man.

Wamisala amadziwa ndalama? Wadziwa bwanji kuti ndi ndalama? [If you are mentally disturbed, how do you know that this is K500?]” Gwaladi shouted while running after the man.

Gwaladi must have run for a distance of between 20 and 30 metres when someone, who happened to be in front of the presumably mentally disturbed man, tripped him (the mentally disturbed man).

You should have seen the relief on Gwaladi’s face.

Gwaladi drew a fist, changed his mind, smiled, and started off for the spot he had left his bicycle and loud speaker!

Now, that is what I call relief.

And, mayi oh mayi, that boy Gwaladi can run!

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