As The Voice landed hot on the shelves last week, the paper’s front page, Prophet’s Mystery Death, had already found its way into the conversations of some commuters in Francistown.
It is in the evening and one of the last combis to Selepa has three passengers waiting to start their journey (Lady in Specs, Lady in Black Bottleneck, and Man in dark overcoat). Enter Man in Bennie with a copy of The Voice.
Lady in Specs: (to Man in Bennie as he sits) Let me have a look at the paper. What ‘stories’ do they have this week?
Man in Bennie: Ah, they have this Motswana prophet guy who died in Malawi.
Lady in Specs: Hee Banna, Twingles! (she says looking at the Prophet’s picture on the front page) This Prophet guy is Twingles. I know him. He spent some time in Francistown as a Prophet. So he is dead?
Lady in Black Bottleneck: What do you mean dead? (grabbing the paper) Isn’t that Isaac? I have heard that his girlfriend says he has been SMSing her from wherever he is. How can he be dead? The dead don’t send messages – or do they?
Man in Bennie: You people need to be smart, just because the messages are coming from his phone doesn’t mean it is actually him. Maybe someone picked up the phone and started using it. I don’t think this whole thing about the messages is true, you guys just like gossip.
Man in Coat: Ha, Ha, (giggling as he gets his turn with the paper)
Man in Bennie: What is so funny?
Man in Coat: This ‘prophet’ of yours here. I think I recall him from an incident where a man was bashing his girlfriend at the Donga Shopping Complex. I remember that someone was telling me then that this guy was a ‘prophet,’ but what prophet hits women?
Man in Bennie: Are you sure that’s him?
Man in Coat: I think I am sure. Either that or this guy here has a look-alike.
(Two men board the combi which still hasn’t left the rank, and head to the back seat. Oblivious to the topic under discussion, the first man announces… )
Man 1: Man, have they killed us this week. Just imagine a weekend without our proper brew. And you man, (referring to Man 2, who it appears is running a Chibuku spot) you can’t sell Chibuku which hasn’t fermented. How can you serve us with Chibuku that is straight from the boiler?
Man 2: Sorry my guy. It is just that these people at the brewery say that one of their machines died, so some days they couldn’t produce enough litres for us to buy and let the drink ferment.
Man 1: No man! Your sorry’s and that brew you served me won’t get me drunk. Look at me now – I have to catch a combi to check some spot in another neighbourhood, a neighbourhood I don’t even trust. Eish, what if they stab and rob me. These days you can’t drink just anywhere you know.
Man 2: I hear you. At least you are just sober. I am sober and broke. Imagine the money I have lost because of this. Two days ago I had nothing to sell. I tried to hassle the brewery but the delivery truck didn’t even pass my route. Those guys cost me big time. I only got my delivery today, and you guys want to swallow my head whole because of the condition of the stock, but it is not that bad.
Man1: Man you know that those things are just sweet. If I had wanted porridge I would have stayed at home. I wanted Chibuku and you gave me porridge in a Chibuku container.
Man in Bennie: (Joins conversation) Maybe you should have tried phafana instead.
Man 2: Mister, I specialize in Chibuku not bo phafana. My customers want Chibuku, and so I must give them exactly that.
Man 1: I haven’t seen or tried that phafana so I can’t say anything about it. I just hope this combi leaves soon so we don’t find only empty cartons when we get to the spot.
(Driver takes the hint and starts the engine. Conversation comes to a temporary halt as the combi rattles loudly into life)