To Our Malawi Army, Thank You Regardless of How Late I am

‘Who is your colonial master? ’ asked a middle-aged filling station attendant, ‘I don’t have one,’ I retorted.

‘Of course you have one, must be those so called British or French nobles, ’ he insisted. ‘Mr Aleaddin,’ I said, ‘ I don’t think you exactly know what you are talking about, Malawi gained its independence a couple of decades ago.’

‘But you are somehow right, we were under the British,’ I admitted, ‘we seem to be OK now.’

‘Those bastards, they always…’

‘Mr Aleaddin,’ I carelessly interrupted him, ‘care to show me where I can wash my bike using your pressure pumps?’

‘What?’ He snapped, ‘it’s just a bike for common sense’s sake, just go there, using that water bucket and scrubbing brush, clean it please.’

It took me some good 15 to 20 minutes to finish washing my bike. Fair to say, in the process of washing my bike, I kept on cursing my Somali friend who had decorated my bike with mud earlier.

Anyway, I knew that during these evening hours my routine of biking had been broken. Back to my dorm.

As I entered the cafeteria of my dorm, I was surprised to see a bunch of standing students looking at a TV screen bolted to the café wall. A wave of chills went down my spine. ‘It must be some bad news,’ I thought to myself, ‘there is completely nothing on TV that can make these youngsters stand eyes glued on the screen unless it was a football match. And I know that the European Championship has already ended and by default the Turkish national team didn’t do well in the competition (seems to be its tradition and don’t ask me about this). This must be a tragedy.’

There was no time to waste in the cafeteria. I had already wasted my time washing my bike not knowing that in the same silent evening, some group of military personnel was executing a military coup.

In my room, the first thing I did was to open almost all domestic news networks (thanks to easy management of the tabs on ‘Uncle Google Chrome’). This is when real horror started  staring me in the eyes. I will not forget the night of 15th  of July, 2016. The Bosphorus and Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridges in Istanbul had been closed by the Turkish military.

A military coup was underway. The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was forced to make a rushed phone call using faceTime app to CNN Türk urging citizens to take to the streets and they did. And then people started dying during the clashes while other military generals and officers started denouncing the coup.

Anyway, I kept on following the news till 3 AM. I tried my best but who said I was a robot, I succumbed to sleep. Fast-forward to today (Saturday 16th of July), the army’s acting chief of staff,  Umit Dundar, tells a news conference that 104 coup plotters have been killed. He says that 90 other people have been killed in violence, adding that 47 of them were civilians.

Turkish Prime Minister, Binali Yildirim, also reports that 1,440 people have been injured and 2,839 military personnel have been detained (these figures are changing by time ).

By this time, as the government seems to take control of power again, things are starting to calm down (even though it’s still not certain as to what will happen next).

‘Mustafa,’ I said, turning to my roommate, ‘ I can’t think of any reason why some people in the military would go for a coup.

‘Since this government has been in power, the economy has increased by about 10 fold. Education is free and there is tremendous social and democratic improvement ever since.

‘This occasion,’ I continued, ‘has taught me how dignified, precious and disciplined our Malawi Defence Force is. In 2012, our country was in chaos when the then president Bingu wa Mutharika died suddenly. Some cabinet ministers sought a court order to block the then vice president,Joyce Banda, from becoming president. Luckily, the Malawi army led by the army commander, General Henry Odillo, sided with her and stationed troops around her house. This really prevented bloodshed in Malawi.’

As I looked at my roommate, Mustafa, he truthfully seemed to have lost interest in my political ‘mumble-jumble’.

But I am not worried much. Since it’s not to my roommate neither friends that I want to thank.

Thus, to the Malawi army, even though my friends may seem a little bit carefree on the subject, I, as a Malawian,  say; Thank You, regardless of how late I am. You did a great job, continue doing that and may you be blessed.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Malawimuslim’s editorial policy.

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