It didn’t matter if the ball was a collection of rugs or made from intricately glued Malawi Milk Marketing (MMM) fresh milk packets or when the ‘king’ came from a well-to-do family, that it was a ‘Wembley’ ball.
A ball was a ball and having one meant you were a king.
It mattered less how skillful or clumsy you were; no one dared to propose that you be substituted.
It mattered even less where you played best; you dictated where you wanted to play.
You could play in defense, despite lacking defensive skills. When the going got rough, you switched and played as goalie to dodge hard tackles.
Despite letting in an avalanche of goals, no one grumbled.
When you wished, you played as a striker irregardless of the availability of sharper goal poachers; or as a ‘left back’ when the fact that you are right-footed and incapable of man-marking was common knowledge.
While at it, you demanded to be religiously called “Pele”. Everyone would comply, with many shouting themselves hoarse to cement a place in your line-up.
Owning a ball was so powerful a status symbol that those hoping to touch the ball laughed at your jokes, no matter how dull to stay in your good books.
You called the shots and if anyone didn’t like it, they could go whistle.
That was then, and this is 2017. We have moved on.
From that era when the scarcity of chronometers meant that the duration of a match wasn’t reckoned in hours/minutes; from those olden days when we happily and vigorously played nonstop for three or four hours and the end of the match came only a result of impending darkness forcing us to invoke the ‘golden’ rule of “atachinye chimodzi watha”; we now have a generation whose total footballing experience comprises ‘playing’ football simulations on a play station.
We have indeed come a long way.
Sadly, we have left many behind who look up to us to guide them out of the woods and uplift them.
If leaving our fellow Malawians behind was the only sad development, I would have said let’s get it on: as one people let’s roll up our sleeves and work towards liberating fellow Malawians from the clutches of the unacceptable rampant poverty, like our fellow African countries are freeing their people from modern day slavery in Libya.
Disturbing to learn is that we have amongst us, people who insist on behaving like spoilt brats with a ball.
Blues’ Orators, please lend me your ears.
You may recall that in May this year, Electoral Reforms Bills weren’t debated in Parliament because Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu, at the behest of the governing Democratic Progressive Party (Malawi) (DPP), did not present them.
After initially playing hide and seek, he claimed later that he couldn’t table the Bills because the government received the recommendations from the Special Law Commissioner “too late”.
Oblivious to the fact that when you peddle a falsehood dawn comes fast, Tembenu promised to table the bills in November.
November has come and gone.
Remember the old chumps that were used to justify changing the flag in 2010? They are back, being abused again in a sorry attempt to shoot down the proposed reforms, the same reforms which we are being told cabinet has yet to review.
If the bills are not ready because Cabinet has yet to discuss the reforms, what is the basis of the chiefs’ ‘analysis’?
Where were the chiefs and these other funny characters when the Special Law Commission was soliciting public views?
My advice: Samuel Tembenu, the Minister of Justice and his DPP shouldn’t forget that the mandate they hold, is from and for Malawians.
DPP may be holding the “ball” and calling the shots but unlike the spoilt brats of my childhood era, they can’t hold Malawians to ransom.
We have come a long way, and way past being taken for fools by ‘millipedes’ which were nowhere to be seen when with PAC’s leadership, we fought to secure ourselves the current dispensation.
No matter how loudly they or their agents try to decampaign the bills, the fact remains that we need these reforms which should – if implemented in good faith – enrich our democracy and the electoral processes with long overdue transparency.
The irony that DPP is failing to see is that with its recalcitrance to the Electoral Reforms intended to give power to the voters, when its main rival Malawi Congress Party (MCP) welcomes the reforms, reflects poorly on DPP.
The same DPP that never tires to tell Malawians that MCP will take us back if elected, is the one just too keen to hold us back!
That DPP is not happy with the proposed 50+1 amendment is a purely DPP problem and if truth be told, with this behavior DPP has just demonstrated that it indeed stole the 2014 election; hence late Justice Maxon Mbendera’s tears.
Why else, if not fear of losing on a levelled playing field, is DPP so afraid of safeguarding the integrity of our elections?
I therefore wholeheartedly welcome the December 13 mass action proposed by the Malawi Public Affairs Committee (PAC) and already heartily endorsed by the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) to stop the DPP nonsense and any mediocrity lurking in wait out there.
Since I started with a personal anecdote on the egocentric ball owners of our time who took us for fools, I will close with the same.
Their egocentric behavior neither went unnoticed nor did it last forever.
Slowly but surely, dzanja limalemba khoma ife tikuwona.
While the naughty football owners could torture and harass their football-crazy friends, there were always some beyond blackmail.
Wanna know how the ‘mighty’ were being humbled?
In some cases those of us lacking artistic talent learned how to make our own balls, and in other cases a kindhearted kid from a richer family would bring an even better ball; and the once-upon-a-time ‘king’s reign ended.
Just like that.
With the increase of schools and introduction of extra-curricular activities, getting into a school football team guaranteed freedom from torturous ball owners.
And when school didn’t provide footballs, kindly priests bought balls or sponsored the local “Tilitonse” teams effectively freeing many of us from the bondage of sadistic football owners.
Come to think of it, isn’t it kinda weird that working to redeem us from today’s oppressive oppressors is the very same clergy and other faith leaders in PAC?
Blues’ Orators, we have come full circle.
Once again, we are witnessing signs of our times and for sure, dzanja likhala likulembanso khoma pompano.
December 13th is the date, see you there.