One thing Blantyre never ceases to amaze is the amount of False Alerts we have. I’m not talking about floods, hurricanes or tragic things like that. Neither am I talking about pregnancies, although I’m sure those happen too. However, we had a series of moments when people from the city are given false hope. Then moments later, it is stripped away from us without logical explanations. In this third installment of Things We See in Blantyre, I’ll share with you some of the false alerts we’ve had over
If you haven’t been following the series, you need to start here:
The many false alerts
1. The Red Star Campaign
There are many things that get me excited, but the Red Star Campaign really jazzed me up. Nothing beats the feeling that the city you live in might just get a facelift. Not that Blantyre is ugly, some might even say it is a beauty in Malawi. However, this campaign brought dreams of more.
To sum up the whole campaign, Blantyre City Council had assessed buildings in Blantyre and Limbe. They then went on to mark buildings that either needed maintenance or to be demolished with some red stars around it. At least 162 buildings in both towns were marked, and most needed to be demolished and a new structure erected.
This was in 2015. As it is today, not even half of the number has made an effort to maintain these buildings. They sit in the middle of streets, looking ugly as ever ready to bid welcome to those that visit.
Now, I understand that some 50-something building owners took an injunction for the exercise, but that was in 2015. Meaning a full 5 years has passed and the court of law is yet to rule on this.
Again, the hope we had of skyscrapers was ripped from us.
2. Removal of vendors from the streets
This one is the one that actually angers me the most. I remember the scenes so clearly.
On the 22nd of September, 2020, Police embarked on a campaign to remove all street vendors from the main part of Limbe and force them to do business at the market side. It was a bad day for the lot of us that work in Limbe.
The streets were filled with teargas smoke. Women with their children on the back would run, carrying their businesses on the head to find places to hide. Some courageous men would pick the teargas canisters and throw them back to the police. It truly was a scene.
After two weeks of peace and quiet, a clean town that suddenly was walkable. They decided, it was time to return and they did.
One would think that the police would’ve been on alert. One would think, they would’ve been back to fire a few more teargas to chase them away. But noooo, cause they are not built like that.
One by one they trekked back into town, laid their businesses on the side walks and carried on like nothing ever happened.
Just another one of the many false alerts we have to endure.
4. Men as Women
Cross dressing in Malawi is the one thing that’s done a lot yet a best kept secret. We’ve seen it done in plays and as we walk in the streets. However, it becomes funny when used as a trick.
One of the places you will find cross dressers in Blantyre is by a small area known as Kachere. That is the truest sin city of Blantyre. A small location filled with pubs almost the same amount as the houses. By 6pm, the town awakens to something unknown.
As the town awakens, so do the tricksters, ready to make their daily bread.
This is a story told to me by someone I had once said worked with.
It was around 8pm when he had knocked off from work. Exhausted from the driving he had done, he decided to stop by one of the pubs for a beer or 2. Which unfortunately, turned into 7 or 8. As he was drinking, he caught a shape of a woman. Fully draped in a national wear, with a small bag slung on her shoulders. She was waiting for the day’s customers.
Shamelessly, he approached her and when a price had been settled, they quickly walked into the nearest restroom and booked a room.
The minute they got in the room, she switched off the lights. Then started removing her clothes. As they got in bed, he was annoyed to find that she wanted to be in control. As a way of wanting to scold at her, he jumped to turn on the lights. And that’s when his eyes widened.
It was a man, with red lipstick and eye shadow. The makeup was so good that in the dim lights of the pub, she looked exactly as a woman.
And that was when he learned his lesson. This story still hurts the insides of my stomach till date.
But it goes to show you that Blantyre has many false alerts that would make someone have a heart attack. Want to share some of the false alerts that annoyed you? Simply comment down below.
Remember to also check out Things We See in Lagos.