LIFE: WHAT A JOURNEY with CHARLES CHISALA
INSTEAD of a healthy breakfast, which he is able to afford, the Zamcab pusher decided to suck down a whole bottleful of junta, the replacement of the infamous kajilijili while the day was still young.
By 10:00 hours the evil drink was already taking its toll on the man. Instead of looking for customers, he â€˜parkedâ€™ the modified wheelbarrow on the bare island that separates the four lanes of Freedom Way in Lusakaâ€™s central business district (CBD).
The man settled down in the bucket of the battered cart using the extended rack improvised from deformed bars crudely welded together. It was time to take a nap. An age-old Bemba saying postulates that the place where you find the chief becomes his palace. This â€˜Zamcaberâ€™ had a different interpretation for this piece of wisdom.
â€˜The place where you feel like sleeping become your bedroomâ€™, he must have thought.
Without bothering about the passersby that were walking past him and gawking at him, he relaxed and fell asleep. Curious passersby would pause to wonder at the snoring, care-free mortal enjoying a nap in the open street.
One woman tugging a heavy travel case almost bumped into the snoozer as she made her way to the other side of Freedom Way.
â€œIye! kanshi napalala abantu [oh, I didnâ€™t know someone is sleeping here],â€ she exclaimed as she walked round the manâ€™s protruding, poorly shod legs.
The man started attracting more attention especially from shop assistants, hawkers and fellow Zamcabs. A number of shop assistants came out of the hardware shops to have a look at the man enjoying an early siesta in the middle of one of Lusakaâ€™s busiest streets.
Even the vendors peddling all kind of merchandise including foodstuffs, plants and second-hand shoes could not contain their curiosity.
One woman vending in a popular wild tuber from Central Province called umumbu walked over to the snoozer and stood over his head. Cheered on by onlookers she held a bottle of water over the Zamcaberâ€™s and dropped water on his forehead.
The man was unmoved. He was still in deep sleep.
â€œNayambi, nayambi [pour some more],â€ someone was shouting.
â€œNo,â€ another one suggested, â€œpour the water in his shoes. He will wake up.â€
â€œAwe, pampumi [no, on his forehead],â€ another proposed.
The giggling woman poured more water on the manâ€™s forehead and waited.
Amid laughter, the Zamcaber woke up with a start and looked around only to find the woman standing above him, ready to baptize him with more cold water.
â€œBukeni yama, nabucha. Enshita yakubomba ni ino ine [wake up uncle, this is the time to work],â€ the woman told the man.
Without any protest he roused himself, climbed out of the Zamcab and stretched himself. Amid cheers, rebukes and praises from onlookers he started pushing the modified barrow away to look for business.
Anytime can be bed time on the busy streets of Lusaka.
This Dununa Reverse Patriotic Front (PF) campaign song recently released by JK and his team has become something else. My family are now used to hearing hordes of children and drunken adults from the neighbourhood singing and dancing to the song outside the fence during both day and night.
It has become the hit of the moment for the local drinking places, where boozers are singing along and dancing in dununa style as it plays.
No wonder a rival group of singers rooting for an opposition party had no choice but to swallow their pride and acknowledge that they had been outsmarted by the more talented and experienced JK-led ensemble.
The less-talented imitators had to hastily come up with a parrot of the highly hilarious and danceable song with counter lyrics, which may cost them a fortune should JK and team decide to follow the advice from the Registrar of Copyright that they are entitled to legal redress.
There is an issue of theft of intellectual property, which is similar to what we call â€˜plagiarismâ€™ in the writing world. JK and his crowd insist in their complaint to the Registrar that the rival group did not obtain permission from the originators of the piece of art to use it in part or whole.
The blockbuster has simply gone â€˜viralâ€™. Last Monday, I walked to a roadside stand near my work place to buy â€˜Luapula chicken and chipsâ€™ (roasted cassava and fried peanuts). I found the vendors and their customers discussing how Dununa Reverse has taken their neighbourhoods by storm.
One female vendor even did a demo of how the song should be danced to, with emphasis on â€˜waggingâ€™ the bottom to one side, to the delight of the crowd.
But it has become even â€˜worseâ€™ in Luapula Province, I am told. A week ago, an opposition party reportedly organised a public rally in one of the densely populated townships of Mansa.
As one of the vehicles ferrying people was heading to the site of the rally, its passengers, at the back, started singing Dununa Reverse at the top of their voices, helped by onlookers.
The officials seated in front ordered the driver to stop the truck. When the vehicle stopped they came out and rebuked the passengers for singing a PF song when they were going for a rally of an opposition political party.
â€œAwe teulo ulwimbo muleimba, lwaba PF. Tampeni ukwimbe nyimbo shesu [no, thatâ€™s not the song you are supposed to be singing. It is for the PF. Start singing our songs],â€ one official commanded them.
The passengers obliged and started obediently singing the songs of the opposition party, but after a short distance they reverted to Dununa Reverse, this time around singing it with more gusto to the consternation of the officials, who stopped the truck again.
But the passengers were adamant. They threatened to jump out and walk back if they were not allowed to sing the song. The officials gave up. Did they have a choice, anyway?
Like in the past this yearâ€™s elections have provided a platform for Zambian musicians to showcase their talent, to separate boys from men and girls from women as we have seen.
LIFE: WHAT A JOURNEY with CHARLES CHISALA