Nashville, Tennessee, USA
January, 25, 2012
Remember me? Ruby Phiri? Back when I used to say ‘No’ to you Friday nights, I was Ruby Sauzande. Remember me now? No? Well, perhaps not. Everyone used to say ‘No’ to you in those days. I used to feel real sorry for you, but not sorry enough to say ‘Yes’. You were one homely homie, as my grandkids would say.
My eldest – Wrigley Parks Phiri – showed me your picture. [You remember little Wrigley P? Well, he’s a big-time record producer now!] Anyways, from the picture, it seems to me that you’re more like Tabu Ley than Pepe Kalle. The extra weight suits you, and your looks have improved with age. You’re quite a sexy old-timer.
Don’t laugh. There’s something very sexy about money, power and arrogance. Ask your beautiful Callie. I didn’t marry Mr Phiri for his rippling muscles and Harry Belafonte eyes. He’s always been able to provide a good life for me and the young’uns, as we call them in Nashville. I hear that you’re also a good provider for the ones you love. If some of us had said ‘Yes’ instead of ‘No’ back when – hey, maybe you would have loved a few more than you do – but let’s steer clear of politics!
You‘re probably wondering when this old gal’s going to get to the point. I expect you’ve received a million begging letters since you became President [well, a ‘sauzande’ anyways, ha ha].
Wrigley heard you talking on the news some time back and he reckons you’ve got one great voice for the music industry. ‘Deep as a barrel of rocks; sharp as a bucket of knives’, was the way he put it. And it’s true, Webs. Your voice has filled out even more than your suits. That old wheedling whine has gone completely. Wrigley thinks you have the makings of another blues legend – BB King meets Muddy Waters, maybe.
Okay, the point is: you’re not going to be in politics for ever, and it’s a dirty game, especially when you try to leave the field. Plan A is to hand over to little Petie, but do you have a plan B?
Here’s Wrigley’s suggestion: join us in Nashville and start a new career as a bluesman. If the blues ain’t your bag, Nashville’s also the country-and-western capital of the world – and we know you like cowboy hats! You’d make a great double act with Callie, so long as she cleans out her mouth. Folks here don’t take kindly to cussing on stage, unless you’re gangsta rapping, and, frankly, you’ve got too much competition to make much of a mark there.
The first thing to do is to sell your house. Why not sell it to the state? You are the state, so this shouldn’t be a problem. I know you’re really attached to the one in Thyolo but ‘hey’, it’s no big deal. I know dentists in Nashville with bigger homes than that. Heck! Even Dolly’s hair-manager’s got a home bigger than yours. If you want to rub booties with Nashville’s aristocracy, you could buy a pink palace in Belle Meade, but most of the ‘new’ money settles in Brentwood, and I guess money doesn’t come much newer than yours.
The main thing is: get writing! Cover-versions don’t make careers. You’ll need your own songs. From what I hear, Malawians have plenty to sing the blues about. Here’s an example of the kind of thing Wrigley thought might work for you. It’s called: ‘Marie Antoinette’, but that’s just a working title. Maybe you can think of something better.“Get offa my khonde. Get away from my doors.You’re nothing but beggars and ingrates and whores.Stop asking for inputs and forex and fuel.Stop writing rude letters and saying I’m a fool.You’re stupid; you’re drunkards; you’re traitors and trash.I’ll shoot you. I’ll smoke you out. Your homes will be ash.
So what, if you’re starving? Haven’t you got work?
Go lie on your backs and charge 10 cents a fork.When I told my good lady you’ve nothing to eat,She laughed in my face; then she turned round to Pete,Saying : ‘To Hell with the poor; their smell makes me sick.If they’re so forking hungry, then let them eat Dick!”
Frankly, some of Wrigley’s lyrics puzzle me. Who’s Dick? All the Richards I know are aTumbuka. I hope Wrigley’s not encouraging regionalism [or cannibalism!]. Anyways - I’m sure you can do better. Let me know what you think. Me and Mr Phiri’ll be happy to help in any way.
Greetings to Callie. With her great looks, I know she’d look even better in Cuban heels and pink leathers.
PS: Webster, what’s with the Gikuyu name? A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet, as the guy on American Gardens used to say. Again, I hear you recently blew your fuse when a certain Nawena went on the air reminding everybody that you are indeed good old Webster Thom and that he has your business card to prove the point. Really, what's in name Webster?
---©2012 The Maravi Post. Reproduction authorised, with usual acknowledgment