Drawn from hamlets far and wide, people of varying backgrounds— I mean, personalities brought to Blantyre Water Board’s Mudi catchment area by the magnetic force of a future they may not be there to experience— had the opportunity to plant trees and contribute to reforestation in Blantyre.
I am talking of last month, when members of the National Theatre Association of Malawi descended on Mudi Catchment area to plant trees they may not be there to climb. I mean, folks who like climbing fruit trees.
Well, for the folks that like to play games under trees, I am talking of planting trees they may not be there to sit under. Whatever games they will be ‘playing’ under the trees! Don’t overtake me in your thinking. I am talking of the innocent things in life. Did you know that seeking cover [under a tree] from rains is a type of game? It is. Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
Even eating fruits such as mangoes without washing them is a type of game! It is ‘playing’ with cholera; hence, it is a game. Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
Anyway, my interest was drawn to some of the light things— the jokes the theatre addicts were throwing around; of course, free of charge— that were said on the day. I surely came to realise that birds of the same feathers flock together. The mind is surely a fertile ground for wild thoughts; at least this is the impression I got, considering some of the things people were saying, as they executed the ‘heavy’ task of planting trees.
One actor, observing that the exercise was taking long to conclude, wondered if, indeed, the ‘water guys’ had really given them 3, 000 trees. Them? Okay, us; for I was one of those who planted trees on that day. I must have planted about 15 trees; trees that will never know me. Sob! Sob! Sob!
“Akuluakulu, atipatsa mitengo yambiri [they have given us more trees than promised],” one actor said.
“Ukunena zowona ayise, monse muja [You are spot on; otherwise, it has been a while since we started planting the trees],“ said another.
“Koma chomwe chikundinyasa ndi chokuti sadatiwuze kuti mitengo yaimuna ndi iti, ndipo yaikazi ndi iti [the worst part is that they have not taken the trouble to inform us about which of these trees are male and which ones are female]”, said another, sending some of us in stitches.
“Kodi Akuluakulu, chikuchitika ndi chiyani? Akapita kukatenga mitengo munthu wamkazi akumachedwa, pamene wamphongo akumafulumira [By the way, good people, what is happening. When a female goes to fetch the trees from the centre point, she is taking long; which is not the case when a male goes. What is happening]?” Asked another.
“Ah, nde kuti akuyesa kudisha. Pajatu amadisha ziri zonse. Kotenga ziphaso za unzika, akumaperekanso ziphuphu kwa opereka ziphaso. Ku zipangizo za ulimi zotsika mtengo, akumachita chimodzimodzi [Maybe they are trying to corrupt those giving out the trees. You know women. They want to get things on a silver platter in every endeavour. Just to collect their national registration identity card, they sweet-talk the officials. The same applies to the Farm Input Subsidy Programme. Women!]”
But this sentiment does not go down well with gender-sensitive actors, who condemn the ‘insensitive’ actor for playing the gender card.
Then, from the blues, one actor ‘deletes’ all bad feelings with a joke.
“Akuluakulu, a water board sakuticheza bwino. Akungotizalitsa mitengo imene siingatithandize kupeza mankhwala achikuda. Sindikuwonapo mitengo yolodzera ena pa mitengo tikudzalayi. Uku nkulakwa [Good people, we are being given a raw deal. The [Blantyre] Water Board people have just given us ‘innocent’ trees, I can’t see a tree future generations will use to bewitch each other]!”
Almost everyone laughed. Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!