city life in lilongwe

The second to last night I was in Lilongwe, I was accompanied by the usual suspects out on the balcony of Mufasa, having a few drinks and talking talk.  We would go down to Diplomats later, the local bar, and play a few games of pool and have a couple of greens.  In Malawi, a green is a Carlsberg lager, bottled in green glass and in my opinion is not so bad, considering my distaste for lagers.  Standing outdoors on the balcony we are able to look down onto the street and across the city, spotting the spires of a Muslim temple.  People’s grocery is across the street from us and its lights are bright even though it’s closed.  We’re all chatting about a recycling project Minne and Marten want to start up when an 18 wheeler cruises by and backfires.

The sound comes again and it isn’t the truck, it is gunshots.  A loose line of guys run down the street shouting.  We hear a total of five gunshots as the guys chase someone around the corner.  Slowly groups of people appear in the streets and follow the commotion.  We are surprised, but no one’s panicking.

Eventually a group of people comes around full circle from the other direction and attempt to load a guy inside the back canopy an old pick up truck.  I wonder if he is bleeding and I think he must be by the number of people surrounding him.  Do they have bandages?  We do.  Am I going to take them down to him and check on the guy to make sure he’s okay?  Not a chance.  Getting blood all over my hands when a friend is attacked by a crocodile is a-okay with me, but I’m not about to get into the mix of someone who has just been shot in the street.  There’s a pull inside me to go see what is happening with him and to help him but it is easily extinguished by considering the context of the situation.

Awhile after the commotion has fizzled, we head to Diplomats.  When you enter the bar, there are racks with an assortment of men’s ties hanging above the bar.  There are well-dressed men in business suits sitting on bar stools, and younger guys in stylish track jackets.  It’s hard to spot a female in here who doesn’t look like she’s on parade.  From what my friends have told me, it’s a favorite spot for men to pick up prostitutes.  Some girls have style without hanging it all out, but most wear shorts and dresses that hang just below their bottoms and are exhibiting what someone once described to me as “titties on the half-shell.”  You can usually spot who’s paying the bill by the number of women hanging around him.

We grab an open table like we own the place and quickly rack up a game of pool.  Top 40 American rap and r&b as well as occasional songs from Zambia or Malawi crackle through speakers, and two of the three fans are working to circulate air through the smoky room but still, every single person sweats.  Welcome to “Libido’s Joint” where it’s all about “whatever makes your bum hum hummmmm” and “ballz ‘n bananas” as it’s clearly painted (somewhat professionally) on the walls.  After some games of pool we leave the place which has long been emptied by the ladies and their paying customers.

2 Responses to “city life in lilongwe”
  1. David Frierman says:

    Can I get some pictures of this? The city-scape, the spires, the bar?
    Thanks, love your writing…

  2. mmm, i wish. sorry, i took no photos of these scenes! my camera broke mid trip. thanks for reading, david.

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