Progressive Joe Gwaladi


With Richard Chirombo:

Ah, even when customers scorn at his blank memory cards, he still ‘wears’ that celebratory look.

In fact, he overlooks that and goes ahead to ‘throw’ one or two jokes at the audience.


Like, on Friday last week, he made a joke about Malawians having no, “even poor”, knowledge of trade.

“Ine ndiri ndi shopu ku Phalombe. Shopu yodzadza bwino kwambiri! Enanu achagogo anu simungakwanitse kuwagulirsa mpani wa mbewa weni weniwu [Well, I am better off than most of you. I run my own shop in Phalombe District while some of you cannot even afford to buy mice for your grannies]!”

He also said something, to the effect that educated people in Malawi are responsible for Malawi’s state of underdevelopment.


“Kungovala suti ndi one tambala yomwe ulibe. Kukhala ndi mapepala asukulu koma kufunsira kukanika [what is the use: wearing suits when the pockets are empty. What is the benefit of having academic papers that offer you no knowledge about how to approach a woman?]”

He said so many things, Joe Gwaladi— the self-acclaimed professor!

He said many things that border on truth; Gwaladi.

Who else, apart from Gwaladi, can say this.

That is how I came to learn, last Friday, that Gwaladi has a shop at Phalombe Boma.

Actually, I did not want a lecture on his other newly acquired prized possession; a motorbike.

I mean, the type some people import from Mozambique.

I think Gwaladi is— unlike motorbike taxi operators in Neno, Chitipa, Lilongwe, Dedza, Ntcheu, Mulanje, Thyolo, Nsanje, Dowa, Nkhata Bay, among other districts— a careful motorcyclist.

I mean, he spent some money on a helmet!

Shield your prized possession from harm, some wise man [woman?] once said—maybe before I was born. The advice rings true even today.

Gwaladi, when he wants to compose a song, uses his head. The brain churns out all the philosophical musings he churns out at us. That is why I like his idea to buy a helmet.

I just do not know why he uses his waist, in dance, to emphasise a point— when he can just shake his head!

Repent, Gwaladi, repent! Ha!H a!Ha!Ha!Ha!Ha!Ha!Ha!Ha!Ha!H a!Ha! [Each ha! for each of the 12 tribes of Israel, of course!]

Thing is, Gwaladi has not just been careful about his head; he has been tending his life, economically.

That is why, to supplement his income, he has opened that shop in Phalombe.

That Friday, he said: “Ndikutitu ndi chishopu! Dzachiwoneni [when I say shop; I mean a well-stocked shop]!” He said while beckoning all and sundry to his touch-and-go mobile gadget.

“AGwaladitu mwatsogola, mpaka kukhala ndi phone ya touch [You are faring really well, Gwaladi; to the extent of having an up-market mobile gadget].” That is what someone said, in Gwaladi’s presence.

“Inutu mumandinyoza; kundiderera. Muwona kuti mupanga bwanji [I know you look down upon me. Well, it is none of my business]!” He shot back.

Then, Gwaladi the motorcyclist took the helmet, dragged his head into it, tied a metallic speaker to the carrier compartment, put the ignition key in… the rest is history. He was on his way to Phalombe, maybe to pay those that work at the shop.

Gwaladi is, physically and economically, growing in stature— which is a source of relief for someone who started off as an ordinary musician.

What pleasing sight can beat that of people watching Gwaladi overtake lore ya mchenga on his way to Phalombe? Ha!Ha!Ha!Ha!Ha!Ha !Ha!Ha!Ha!Ha!Ha!Ha!

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