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Headline Matters with Chambwa: Foolish Night

INFORMATION is power, they say. But having information about those in power is being powerful. I can only DREAM about being powerful and so, listen to this circuitous stuff.

My life, over the past five years, has revolved around media events – be it at hotels, political rallies and meetings (in and outside of Lusaka), political party secretariats, State House, police stations, Parliament buildings, stadia, roadsides and sometimes the residences of certain politicians. There are many more other places I go to in search of news! So, I obviously eavesdrop and certainly see.

It’s a Sunday evening and I find myself interviewing this parsimonious business executive turned politician who sounds so convincing about what he wants for Zambia. But that’s it! For whatever reason, one is inclined to believe his desired format of governance, though he doesn’t delve into details on how he would “fix it.” It’s a long interview cutting across various national matters. I’m wondering which place this is and he offers to buy me a drink, but I feign to be okay. So, he continues explaining his plans, intermittently waving at those passing by. He is cool and convincing, mind you. In the middle of his repetitive explanation, there is a power cut. Oh my! How he felt vindicated! Since he is overly security minded, he stood and his security detail surrounded him. Thankfully, power was restored within three minutes and he continued canvassing for a vote. But maybe he is too brazen about a vote and those who are supposed to give it to him see through this?
While our interview was ongoing, Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja, spotting casual attire, was spotted around the place. My interviewee looked at Kanganja and indicated that he wanted to leave. He ordered one of his aides to ensure that I was given something for a taxi and he left immediately. Is that how Kanganja can pollute the environment?

As Kanganja headed into one of the shops, I saw two members of the PF media committee coming towards where I was standing. Faking a phone call, I hurried towards the taxi rank and jumped into an unattractive Camry and left.

The following day, I was at Taj Pamodzi Hotel where the NGOCC had an event. One or two politicians were in attendance and one of them stood to blurt out a few things. She believes that had it not been for men, she would have been more successful. She was given five minutes to speak her mind on national issues and she spent 10 minutes condemning one or two political rivals. She blamed economists, journalists, fellow politicians, students, teachers, villagers, bus drivers and every male creature you can think of as the reason for her eaten up political fortune, if she ever had one.

Everyone was whispering to the next person “finshi balelandapo” and no one could relate to her twaddle. To save the audience from this foolish discussant, one gentleman raised his hand and asked what the poor lady was talking about. Eh! She charged; “I’m being bullied by a man. This country is not for men only! NGOCC should issue a press statement to protect me from this nonsense.” Another naturally sharp and assertive woman, who has only been made foolish by politics, stood and defended her fellow crybaby. “Let’s allow her to deliver her point,” she intervened, as the audience mockingly laughed, ostensibly at the word “point.”

Noticing continued disorderliness, I packed my notebook in my back pocket and left. A day later, I met a more-than-a-friend journalist, Ruth Mumba, who told me that when I left, this ever complaining ‘woman’ insulted organisers of the event for giving her few minutes to speak. She spoke for 20 minutes while other speakers spoke only for five minutes. I uttered some strong words against her and wished her nothing, neither downfall nor success.

I headed to Arcades Shopping Centre where I was told there was an unusual police presence. Upon inquiry of what was happening, I learnt that there was a thieving monstrosity at the nearby Lusaka Protea Tower Hotel. After the routine screening, I was allowed in and I found the fellow speaking. I’m saying speaking because he was producing sound! Nothing more or less! Close to 10 nonchalant journalists listened in and for whatever reason, I could not write or record what he was saying. If anything, I couldn’t hear anything from his so-called speech. The event was as empty as the speaker!

At some point, I heard him say he detested corruption and I wished former Roan member of parliament Chishimba Kambwili was in the audience. He would have probably shouted “thief, thief, thief.” He continued mumbling, sending fawning ‘empty tins’ into merriment, each time he sighed. He was actually sweating and I guessed it was because of the topic he was addressing; corruption. I asked myself, ‘why didn’t he delegate that former human being to deliver this silly speech for him?’ The man was at pains talking about a topic which is his middle name! For all the minutes he murmured, I only got him clearly when he “read” that he detested corruption and when he said thank you. Appearing like a nut-cracker, he said: “Ladies and gentlemen, let it be on record that I detest corruption….” But how can he detest himself? I cursed his speechwriter!

Yes, I know him as an evil actor; he wants everyone to think that he is God’s favourite human being. How dim-witted! As I was about to raise my hand to question him on his intonation, especially on issues that he never believes in, my phone vibrated and I woke up. When I answered, it was my editor saying “today is Friday and so you need to submit early your Headline Matters article for Sunday publication.” I jumped out of my ka bed and remarked “eish, foolish night.”
#Nocturnal events.

The next version of Headline Matters will be on Sunday.
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