Joe Gwaladi’s Gucci-inspired peace


With Richard Chirombo:

I did not know that Malawi’s number one ‘philosopher’, Joe Gwaladi, spares some time to reflect on days that were, and are not. It simply did not occur to me.

But all that changed on Monday, after I came face-to-face with the philosopher. Not that it was the first time I chanced upon Gwaladi; far from it. It was, perhaps, the umpteenth time.


Just that it was the first time for me to hear Gwaladi talk about his past. Maybe he recollected his past at my expense.

I say so because, before he delved into the story of his past, Gwaladi asked me to buy a 4GB memory card from him.

Not that the memory card was ‘filled’ with his beats. Not at all.


It has poems and other stuff unrelated to philosopher Gwaladi.

But, anyway, I had to buy the memory card so that I could squeeze as many ‘juices’ as I could out of Gwaladi’s orange-of-life.

Maybe I got it [the memory card] for a song: K1,000.

Kunena zoona, anthu ena akugulitsa ma memory card a 4GB pa mtengo wa K4,000.

Ndi ine, ndi K1,000 yokha basi! Nanga ndidzikundikire ndalama? Isaaa! [If the truth be told, you are getting this memory card for a song. Others are selling it at K4,000. Why should I overcharge? I cannot do that!]”

That is Gwaladi, in his own words.

To my surprise, he gave me change of K1,000 after I gave him a K2,000 banknote.

You see, I thought Gwaladi was giving me a bluff meal when he said I would buy the memory card at K1,000.

But, then, philosophers do not lie! Especially a philosopher as great as Gwaladi.

Long live Gwaladi! Ha!Ha! Ha!Ha!Ha!Ha!Ha!Ha!Ha!Ha! Ha!Ha!

When Gwaladi gave me the memory card— which, I must report, is in order; working ‘exceptionally’ well— I decided to get my just rewards. I decided to ask him some questions: “Growing up, what did you crave to have in life?”

Well, perhaps satisfied that I had lined his pocket with cash, no matter how little, Gwaladi told me that “I always wanted to have a walk-man”.

Yes, walk-man. This is a portable listening device. In the days that are past and dead, the walk-man was the in-thing.

Of course, I find it offensive that it was called a walk-man. How about women? Male chauvinism at its best.

“Okay”, I said, looking Gwaladi in the right eye, “what next”?

“[I also wanted to have a go at] designer clothes,” Gwaladi said.

Now, I decided to ask one last question and rush to my workplace, Ginnery Corner. You know I am a Scott Road boy!

Did I say ‘boy’? Perhaps I am a boy. Ha!Ha!Ha!Ha!Ha!H a!Ha!Ha!Ha!Ha!Ha!Ha!

Bwana [boss],” I said, “I will ask this one question and leave you alone. After all, K1,000 is not worth the trouble of all these questions. If you were born today and were dreaming about a great future, what thing would you look forward to having?”

Gwaladi did not even think twice [how do I know? What I mean is that it did not take Gwaladi a lifetime to answer my question] and was at ease when he told me: “I would wish I had a Gucci pair of trousers.”

That is it.

It takes a Gucci to make Gwaladi happy, in modern-day terms.

But Gwaladi had the last laugh because, before I could say bye, he told me: “Koma ndiribe chifukwa chofunira kukula chifukwa ndiri ndi zonse zimene ndimafuna. Ndiri ndi Gucci [wait a minute. There is nothing for me to hope for because I have all I wanted. I even have a Gucci pair of trousers]!”.

Gwaladi, as he says, ndi Gwaladi basi [Gwaladi will never change]!

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