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Saturday, September 18, 2021

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A Very Warm Welcome to London Mr President Rev Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera

As a resident of this country and as someone who has travelled a lot within the UK, I welcome His Excellency, the State President of the Republic of Malawi, to London. This is his first trip to Europe since he became the president.
The president has been very desperate to visit a developed country. So far, his trips from home have been within Africa, and he did not seem satisfied. Congratulations, Mr President; finally, you have forced your way through.
Your trip to London coincides with my annual leave, which makes it impossible to offer my volunteer in-person tour guide services that would have been available if I was around, as I am in Mauritius enjoying my hard-earned annual leave. Therefore, this written piece will suffice as I share tips to guide you with your stay in England.
 
Here are the tips:  
 
1) Paying for transport: We do not use cash to pay for public transport in London. Please buy an Oyster card; it costs £5. It would be best if you topped it up as you travel within London. If you can afford it, put money for one week. Costs depend on which zone you want to travel to. Every time you enter a train station or use the famous red buses, swipe, or touch your card on the scanner, you will be good to go.
 
2 (a) If you are on the bus or tube, please be aware that there are no presidential seats reserved for you. Please, Mr President, show courtesy. You may be expected to offer a seat to a pregnant woman, the elderly, the disabled and others. Although these values are in the Malawian culture, politicians like you often ignore these values. Here in Britain, politicians abide by these cultural values.
 
2 (b) When using your own transport: Be aware that your large convoy is not allowed here, and it is unnecessary. Also, presidential sirens are not allowed. You will have to travel on the road like any other road user. In London traffic jam simasewera especially during peak hours. Kuno kulibe zoti a traffic police ayima panseu kuyimisa anthu ena kuti KWANTERE KWANTERE adutse…..Forget!
 
2 (c) You can decide to use a bicycle to move around.  You can rent as many bikes as you want, you will see them on the streets. All you need is to put money for you to have it unlocked. This way you will beat traffic in London. I know you may be concerned about security but be assured, no one will kill you here.  After all, for whose benefit? Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, uses a bicycle, and he has never been attacked. Why should you be worried then? Moreover, some of us have been here for more than 15 years, cycling without an incident.
 
3) If you see a large crowd of people on the streets, do not be tempted to believe that they have gathered to see you. The UK is not Malawi, and please do not wave at them or do your Chakwera Hi5. You might be embarrassed as no one will respond to your gestures. Please do not say I did not warn you. Very few people know you exist here.
 
4) Language: The medium of communication here is English. Would you please not come here to show off your fake American accent. Extend this advice to your beloved son-in-law, who is among the family members you are travelling with, for he too has the urge to use these fake accents. For example, words like Itsanana will leave your few Malawian handclappers and bootlickers in awe when used by you, but they do not exist in the English Dictionary and may only confuse the British. Do your Kwantere-Kwantere in Kasiya, not in London.
 
5) Shopping: I have observed that you, your cabinet, and the press team are in a dressing competition. Buy yourself new clothes from PRIMARK. I think this shop suits you well. Most Malawians flock to that shop when they visit. You can also buy a gift for your vice Chilima from the same shop. There are also charity shops such as Salvation Army, British heart foundation, Sue Ryder and others, where you can buy cheap clothes. However, if you will be using taxpayer’s money which is most likely, House of Fraser, Debenhams, John and Lewis are the shops to explore. Make sure you stand in the queue and wait for your turn to be served. Kulibe zolowelana pa nzela kuno.
 
 
6) Visiting people: We know that you like visiting people’s homes uninvited. You visited APM when you were in Mangochi; you saw Bakili Muluzi when you were in Blantyre and Grace Obama in Mzuzu. Much as I appreciate that this is a Malawian culture, please book an appointment to visit people here in the UK. People have busy schedules and work hard to earn a living here. Malawians living in the UK don’t have access to the 6.2 billion and 17 billion COVID-19 funds or 300 million you allocated for the 6th July celebrations. If you plan to visit people unannounced, you may not find them at home, which could be embarrassing. Others may not open the door for you deliberately because they will not be expecting a visitor. Moreover, some Malawians here live illegally and may mistake you for the police seeking to arrest them.
 
7) Lastly but not least, on the same point of visiting people. Please!! DO NOT VISIT THE QUEEN UNLESS INVITED. We know that you like attending funerals, and you missed The Duke of Edinburg’s funeral due to COVID-19 restrictions. You were likely to travel to London for the funeral even without an invitation. We know that you will be tempted to visit Queen Elizabeth the second kuti mukapepese maliro, komanso kuti mukayike nkhata, LOL! as if ndizosekesa. Please don’t embarrass us Malawians; they will not even open the gate for you. Moreover, you don’t know whether she’s at Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle. However, you are at liberty to take photos outside these buildings and post them on Facebook. Yanu ija a PULE.  Please don’t forget to tag Chilima, APM, John Chisi, Ras Chikomeni, Chikosa Silungwe, among other friends you have.
 
Enjoy your stay, I wish I was around kuti ndikuoneseni town bwana wanga muli apa!

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