“In Kin Malebo”

In the late 1970s, there was this worldwide phenomenon in which one of us (I mean a Black American man with roots from Africa) decided to have one of his famous fights in the City of Kinshasa.  

In the late 1970s, there was this worldwide phenomenon in which one of us (I mean a Black American man with roots from Africa) decided to have one of his famous fights in the City of Kinshasa.  

Well, if you don’t know what I am talking about, I’m sorry for you if you don’t know the famous Mohammed Ali formerly “Cassias Clay”; this is a descendant of the African that had been shipped to the Americas as slaves.  

He decided to drop the American name (Cassias Clay) to a more appropriate name.  

I think his change of name was influenced by the likes of Malcolm X.  I am not a history teacher and therefore I will not venture into all the nitty-gritty of all that.    

But what is for certain is that three decades ago, that descendant of an African decided to bring one of his
memorable boxing bouts from the comfort of Las Vegas to the unknown African city of Kinshasa.  

This was not a Zaïrean breakthrough but that of the whole African continent as well as all our brothers and sisters living out of Africa.

I am not heading to Zaire as some of you may already be thinking; I’m off to the RDC (République Démocratique du Congo).

I recall a common saying of the then Zairean leader (Field Marshall Mobutu Sese Seko, Kuku Ngebendu wa Zabanga) that, “there was no Zaire before me, there will be no Zaire after me”.

True to his word, the country was hastily renamed after his fall.  It is this “new” country that I am visiting.

Previously, say three or so years ago, I would have only set my feet in this city on condition that, I wanted to get nearer to my ancestors; not any more.  

First of all, the two countries have so far mended their fences to the extent that, they have fully fledged Embassies in their respective capitals.  

As many of you know, I am an ardent traveler and it is my unchallengeable duty to bring your all the nitty-gritty of how life is like in this vast African country.

As many of you may have guessed, I have no other way to get to Kinshasa a.k.a. “Kin Malebo” (as the people here love to call it) but to fly.  

I was not in a hurry to be re-united with my ancestors and hence, I decided to go by “The Pride of Africa” a.k.a. KQ.  

The problem was that, I had to go via Nairobi in order to get to Kin Malabo, like taking a step back and then leaping forward!  

My journey began on a Monday night; I was at Kigali International Airport by 11:00pm, hoping to board my flight on or around 02:00am.

The plane from Nairobi was expected to touchdown in Kigali at around midnight but due to unavoidable circumstances, “The Pride of Africa, was never in time”!  We ended up leaving at 05:00am via Bujumbura, the disappointing thing was that, while at Bujumbura, the “Petrol station attendants” at the Airport were fast asleep such that, it took nearly an hour to wake them up.  

Much as the plane “bus drivers” wanted us to leave fast, their efforts were frustrated such that we left past 06:00am and arrived in Nairobi long
after our flight had left.

Mfashumwana@fastmail.fm

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