Michael Usi’s political act


At first, the idea would have been no different from a soliloquy; one man, Michael a.k.a. Manganya Usi, in his dining room, thinking aloud about his chances of making it to public office. Whatever office it was, but Usi, away from the big spotlight that is the public’s eye, might have decided to have a go at something no less than public office.

Which is a departure from the original script of Usi, a script that touches more on human development [I am talking of social welfare] and the arts than hardline politics. Yes, indeed, I am talking of the creation of plays, sometimes songs [Anamakutu bembere. Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!].

To Usi, playwriting is as easy as waving in the air— no amount of air, no matter how ‘thin’, can stop a two-day-old baby from waving its tiny, almost tender, hand in the air.


But taking steps into politics, an area Usi is making a foray into, is analogous to taking a walk in an infinitely forested area— or, worse still, finding oneself in an enormous hole of blackness. Surely, only the initiated can, surely and safely, find their way out.

I mean, hardline politics is not an area Usi is associated with, at least until late last year and early this year when Odya Zake Alibe Mulandu campaigners came to the fore, at first as a toothless, venom-disarmed creature that has quickly turned into something earth-shaking; something not to be taken for a joke.

Of course, they say everyone is a political animal. In fact, there is politics attached to everything— the economy, the arts, agriculture, education. Whatever one may come up with; politics is that fur that keeps it warm.


Thing is, politics is like the rains— unless one deliberately hides in, say, a shed, it will rain on them.

But, still, this is not the way we linked Usi to politics. Reading The Daily Times this week, especially reading that Usi courted traditional leaders in Machinga District, where he taught them the basics of self-sufficiency, I felt like the arts bird is about to land on the hard soils of politics.

But, still, those who love Usi may still want their man; a man of the stage; a man who pulls no punches unnecessarily. Yes, there may, inevitably, be people who wished he could keep away from such matters as partisan politics, so that his pretty, bigger than the stage life could remain unsullied by party-colour attachments.

I think, somehow, perceptions that those who make their bread and butter should live and spend their lives around public performance venues or studios where they record their works are to blame. Wishful thinking! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

Wake up, people of such perceptions. Stop taking players in the arts sector as delightful romps that should be palm-oiled to keep quiet on political issues while politicians run away with the loot!

Not Usi! Hardline politics, it seems, is no longer an area he can keep away from.

Of course, Malawi’s political story is littered with names of artists who made it big in politics. Musician Billy Kaunda, producer and musician Joseph Tembo have had their day in the sun of politics. Lucius Banda is still basking in that sun; just like Bob Kalindo the playwright and actor— both of them are legislators.

Oh, there is Allan Ngumuya, too— and many other legislators who sing in their sleep! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Anyone who sings in their sleep is a musician.

Soon, it seems, Usi may join the bandwagon— perhaps as State president or whatever position tickles his fancy. And, then, politics will no longer be the dirty game we claim it to be, for Usi, at his best, may ensure that politics turns into a playground strewn with jokes that stand the test of time.

And, then, politics, in Malawi, will resemble the tableau of bliss— life filled with love and concern for one another.

And, then, for better or worse, we will never escape the impact of joke-filled politics in our lives. I mean, it has been a long time since a player in the arts industry made us part of the political gravity, maybe because we do not identify the figures that wallow in it with us, common men and women.

Of course, it will be a tall order, once Usi gets his way, for some of us to know whether to categorise his speeches as part theatre and part political declaration. Which will keep us focused, so that we can get, when the time comes, what it really is. It is possible, when the time comes, that the answer will be neither here [part theatre] nor there [political declaration].

Now, I know you are confused! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

Anyway, Usi in active politics may give us a sense of relief; relief from the pain inflicted on us by the hard-tacklers of politics.

More importantly, the relief will be his. Here is a man who dedicated his life to solving socio-economic problems faced by the people, at least the majority of the people of this country.

But, then, he had to leave that so that he could serve the people better. I mean, politicians, especially those elected to public office, are at the heart of the decision-making process. They formulate laws. They institute policies.

Now, to hope to be in such a position and being in such a position are two different things. Usi, in his other life, hoped and hoped.

It may happen, in 2019, that he may live his dream. That will be a source of relief. Really.

Now, do not look at me. I have filled my space for today. Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

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