I knew late Martse in 2016 when—while working for The Nation newspaper—the Arts and Entertainment Editor, then, asked me to review his hit song Mwano. I found his number, we discussed the song and since then, we always talked—nothing more but a reporter and news source relationship.
But it was in 2018, at a wedding reception of a certain friend in Lilongwe, when I met him in person. I reached out to him, we talked and, together, we went to a place I was putting up for more chills. It was at this moment where I learnt that his full name is Martin Nkhata. I became curious because my mother is also Nkhata. From that moment, we declared ourselves cousins.
As cousins we always checked up on each other. I was staying in South Africa, then, but whenever I jetted in Malawi, we could always catch up. In fact, on several occasions, he was the person I could first call to get a vehicle to fetch me from the airport. In some instance, he could literally borrow his friend’s vehicle and drive to the airport to pick me up.
In 2020, when I came to Malawi and got stuck cause of COVID-19 border closures, Martin was always with me. With me stuck in Malawi and my family in South Africa, I was a lonely man and thanks to Martin’s availability. I bonded so strong with Martin because he was always around me.
I was staying with my young brother in Area 18, Lilongwe, and I remember getting a late call from Martin saying ‘Couz, if you can manage please come pick up, I am in Area 25 but I ain’t cool with the guys here.’ I drove the night and pick him up.
In the morning, he came to my room and said: “Couz, I feel at home every time I am here, can I stay for a week?” I said, even for a year. We ended up staying together, in my young brother’s house, for 2 months. Two months of walking together, almost every day, to Senti market to buy vegies, tomatoes and our favorite delicacy—irish and eggs.
When he returned to his place in Likuni, we felt a great sense of emptiness especially in the kitchen because he loved cooking and he was good at it. You can’t go without breakfast, lunch and supper with Martin around. Never.
Since that, we could always catch up. When my wife and kids returned from South Africa, Martin was among the first of my closest to welcome them. I introduced him as Uncle Martin, not Martse, to my kids until my daughter, one day, saw a music video on TV and asked: Is Uncle Martin also called Martse? We laughed about it.
It was always like that with Martin, always checking upon each other—whenever I was broke, I could run to him; when he was, he would never hesitate to reach out.
It is against this background that, as I am today, I am deeply shocked and disturbed as to WHY would someone make an issue from a mere normal chat as if it was the first time for me and Martin to chat?