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Laughing at Zamadula’s expense

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Once, in the series that has stood the taste of time called ‘Pamajiga’, there starred a man whose sense of humour could stir a deep contentment even in the best sceptic.

In those days, when the nation was still reeling from the intoxicating power of sleep, in could come Zamadula— of course, he was starring alongside other people in ‘Pamajiga’; notably Anyoni—to stir the nation into wakefulness.

Now, I was young, and never had the opportunity to see Zamadula in action. In fact, I did not even know that I would come face to face with him someday; for meeting Zamadula was a dream too true to believe.

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So, I got to understand the man through the medium we call radio. In the morning, from quarter-to-six to a minute-to-six or there-about, I would rise up from whatever dream wanted to interrupt me, tune in to the radio [you know which radio] and pay all attention to Zamadula.

Thanks, of course, to my father— Leviano Simon Chirombo— for buying a Nzeru radio set for the house. And — should I say thanks again? — thanks to my father again, who was heard calling me Zamadula several times. Whenever I was behaving like a clown, my father would pick me out of a crowd by calling me Zamadula. It is just now that I have come to realise that they knew each other, which is not surprising because Zamadula’s village is two villages away from mine somewhere in Dedza.

Whatever the case, the radio set and my being called Zamadula by my father prompted me to keep in touch with Zamadula’s adventures. I remember that term ‘adventure’ because, in those early years, my English teacher— who used to call me Robert, and not Richard. I do not know why— introduced that word to my limited lexicon.

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That teacher, I remember very well, was Mrs Gondwe, who used to stay in what we called Admarc houses in Salima District in those days; days so sweet that it hits me as sad that they are gone.

The next time I came across the word adventure was when I came across Richard Mwale’s book, Adventures of Pyoka Milimo. I must say that I stumbled upon that book, as I was coming from “my Magisa”— as I used to call the secondary school I was going to in those days.

A man, probably in his early 20s, was low on cash. Penniless sounds ruthless. And, so, he asked me to pay K20 to get the book. That is in 1997. I bought it, upon chancing on the words ‘adventure’ and enjoyed reading it from cover to cover.

Pyoka Milimo is nasty. Really nasty. It is sad that I lost the novella. I am willing to buy one. But this is not the issue today.

The issue is about the adventures of Zamadula.

Well, although I did not have a chance to watch Zamadula do what he knew best live, I was lucky to meet him in a strange place: His garden in Mng’ona Village, Traditional Authority Kamenyagwaza, Dedza.

I mean, when the Zamadula was with us in this world.

He was a vegetable farmer. That time, he was harvesting the world’s most common fruit called tomato.

As we walked from one maize field to another with my cousin, my cousin just asked: “Do you know Zamadula of Pamajiga?”

I said no.

He said: “You will receive a miracle today! You will talk to Zamadula”.

I could not believe it.

He then introduced me to a man who was busy picking tomatoes.

“This is Zamadula,” he said.

I thought he was joking, but my cousin— let me mention his name, and may his soul rest in peace: his name was Nisphore Gervasio Chirombo—played a fast one on me by saying that he would prove his words by asking Zamadula to laugh the way he used to do in ‘Pamajiga’.

Upon which Zamadula burst into laughter; the kind that gets him in trouble in one radio advert. In the advert, one persona asks him [in this case, Zamadula is trading as ‘Chikadzakuwani’]: “Ambwana Chikadzakuwani, bwanji mukukhosomolera makasitomala mmaso?

Goodness me; it was a dream come true.

His laughter was, as in ‘Pamajiga’, infectious.

And you can just imagine that I got it for free!

What better relief can one find than meeting a national hero like Zamadula, who had to laugh, in my presence, for free.

As someone said, see you again Zamadula, a hundred years from now.

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