Please check the previous post “underbyen” for new pictures!
The sun was just setting casting shades of red over Lilongwe – the roads oozed of people trying to make it home before darkness to avoid the dangers that follows. The manager in charge of collecting money from a few rural bakeries was setting in his office with a thoughtful look in his eyes. He was tired after a long day, but a hidden anxiety had taken control. He slowly rose from his chair, walked to the door – overcame a final hesitation before opening and running out, shouting “Bwana Bwana” (Boss Boss). The owner responded prompt to the sudden outburst and the manager continued “Something terrible has happen; I was counting the money, but suddenly it all turned into paper and the money was just gone”. The surprised owner said “ehh, come on Bambo (Mr) that cannot be true” “It is Bwana, it was magic”
I have for long time just been laughing of this story, but recently I realized what the mechanisms behind are. Every culture has some idiosyncrasies – in Denmark the law of Jante has for a long time been the biggest designer of glass ceilings. In Asia, I guess you can say the notion of loyalty has sourced an enormous power to the companies, who in some cases literally are working their employees to death. In Malawi its: “Its never my fault” This conception is so strong with some people; the manager actually believed he could convince the owner that magic was the cause and he was not to blame at all.
As I wrote in an earlier post “the Mua Mission” people from outside or strangers cannot possible know what’s best for you, the village, the community or even the Country. I am just wondering: Can this be rooted in “It’s never my fault”? A stranger can’t know a better way to grow maize, because that would mean that I have been doing it wrong all my life. If my harvest fails it’s because of the rains, not because I don’t use that thing called fertilizer.
It’s also the reason why magic and witchdoctors still play a very essential role in all levels of modern Malawi – The witchdoctor has always been able to give reasons and thereby remove any blame from you. The obvious reason is that someone has cast a spell on you – you follow the instruction of the witchdoctor and you can start again on a clean sheet, full of faith that next years harvest will be much better… no evil spell and no fertilizers!
A Danish Girl here had to fire a Gardner because he practically never came to work. He kept asking why he was being fired and didn’t want to acknowledge it was because he failed to show for work. “It’s the others isn’t it – they are talking bad about me and now you are firing me” He kept on and on. A few weeks later he tried kill the other staff by putting rat poison in the ufa (Maize Flour).
I have 2 night guards and I have agreed that it’s ok if one of them sleeps, just as long as the other one is awake and alert. Mr. Moyo – self announced guardian angel, has worked at the house for many years (also guarded Poul when he stayed here) likes to sleep when his on duty. What happened two days ago sparked the inspiration for this post. I woke up around midnight by a loud knocking on the gate; quickly realizing it was the security company on their nightly inspection. The knocking continued and I knew that Mr. Moyo was gone! It took 5 min before he managed to get to the gate and register.
The next day the other guard told me he had encountered 3 men jumping the fence around 3 am when he was on duty. He had managed to scare them off with help from the neighboring guard. It’s quite obvious what happened: One of the guys from the inspection team must have marked the house as an easy target due to sleeping guards. It’s fairly well-known that many guards are crooks, which is why I accept having a sleepy trustworthy guard.
The incident made a talk with Mr. Moyo necessary. He needed to know what would happen if those 3 guys had found him sleeping – there would be a good chance that he wouldn’t have lived to tell about it. After a long serious speech he said out of the blue “eeh, Bwana I was not sleeping”. I was gobsmacked – never anticipated him to contest the obvious: “But but, Mr Moyo it took you 5 min to get to the gate” “eeh, it’s a long way to the gate…” he replied nervously after a while. At that time I was overwhelmed by a sneaking suspicion that I was in over my head. “It normally only takes you 15 seconds to get to the gate – what happened”. An awkward silence surrounded us for seconds: “I was not sleeping”. “That’s fine Mr. Moyo, but what happen – did you not hear them”. Again silent for a long time and he finally just said: “I cannot answer that, but I will work hard”…
I realized I just had to accept that answer – I did sense that he understood the seriousness of the situation that night… I hope!
(Any spelling mistakes are caused by the computer, word or wordpress…not me!)