“Money and power attract friends. But it’s not you that they are friends with – just your money and power.” Auliq-Ice.
King Belshazzar, so we are told, threw the mother of all parties where fine wine flowed freely, and he and his minions swigged more than their fair glasses.
Under the influence, the king decreed that vessels of gold and silver that Nebuchadnezzar, his father, had taken from the Temple in Jerusalem be brought so that he, his hangers-on, wives and concubines should drink from them.
The holy vessels were duly brought, and the king, his guests, wives, and concubines drank from them while praising the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.
What followed was extraordinary.
From nowhere, the king saw a human hand appear and begin to write on the plaster of the palace wall. His countenance changed, and he started shaking uncontrollably with dread.
He summoned royal magicians, charlatans and wise men of Babylon and proclaimed, “Whoever reads this writing and interprets it for me shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around his neck and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom!”
They came, they tried, and they failed, to his chagrin. The queen then intervened. She knew someone who could assist.
“In fact,” she said, “King Nebuchadnezzar had made him chief of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and astrologers because he could solve practically anything. His name is Daniel. Call him; he will interpret.”
Daniel was called, and the king said unto him,
“You are that Daniel, one of the exiles of Judah, whom the king my father brought from Judah. I have heard of you. Now the wise men, the enchanters, have failed to interpret this. But I have heard that you can interpret and solve problems. Now, if you can read the writing and interpret it to me, you shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around your neck and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.”
To which Daniel responded,
“Let your gifts be for yourself and give your rewards to another. Nevertheless, I will read the writing to the king and interpret.”
Daniel started by reminding the king that his father Nebuchadnezzar had started well. But once he was consumed by pride and arrogance, he became evil and corrupt, marking his fall.
“And you, his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, even though you know all this. You have even dared to desecrate vessels from his Temple and indulge in idolatry.”
“This is why the hand was sent to inscribe this message which reads: “Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin”.
• “Mene”: God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end;
• “Tekel”: you have been weighed on the scales and found wanting; and
• “Parsin”: your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.
Daniel 5: 1-25, thanks to the legendary Mlaka Mlaliro’s anthemic Dzanja lalemba, is indelibly stamped in the hearts of Malawians, and as such, I will pontificate no further.
Let’s return home, where two incidents happened this week.
While one is significant, the other would have passed without notice, save for its patently poor taste and timing.
In the significant incident, Judge Dorothy De Gabrielle sentenced Thomson Mpinganjira to nine years imprisonment with hard labour for his brazen attempt to bribe judges in the high-stakes Elections case.
Now, it’s not a secret that had Mpinganjira’s criminal endeavour succeeded, its primary beneficiary would have been former president Peter Arthur Mutharika.
One can also infer that if Mpinganjira had cooperated in return for a lighter sentence, the likelihood that Peter Mutharika and /or some close to him would have been implicated and convicted is very high. Just like Mpinganjira has relocated from his presumably cosy abode to the humble dwellings of Chichiri Prison, those implicated would have by now become guests, dressed and fed by taxpayers, in any of the many jails which separate such scum and low-lives from you and me, the decent, law-abiding citizens.
Vis-à-vis the not-so-significant thing, a clip was circulating on social media in this very same week which for Thomson Mpinganjira’s friends and family, is as close as it can get to a funeral week.
In that clip, Peter Mutharika and his wife are giddy, seemingly celebrating something.
“What is your favourite Bible verse, honey?”
“Babes, It is Daniel 5:25”
“What does this verse say?”
“Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin meaning God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; You have been weighed on the scale and found wanting; your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians”.
They conclude their idea of a joke with a derisive laugh, sort of gloating over someone’s misfortunes or fall.
Looking around, nothing has transpired that can explain the Mutharikas giddiness in this torturous week, at least for Mpinganjiras.
For all practical purposes, Peter Mutharika’s known political rivals are doing just fine.
Chakwera, for instance, has absolutely no reason to be walking whilst looking over his shoulder. To prove this, he freely and willingly granted the very same Anti-corruption Bureau (ACB) Peter Mutharika is cowering from, an opportunity to grill him.
Again, as far as we can see, the vice president is happily busy with whatever stuff the principal has delegated or assigned to him.
Furthermore, judging from the resurgence of their sycophants’ noise, the ongoing infrastructure blitz seems to be doing the intended magic of placating the masses.
President Chakwera and VP SK Chilima seem to have their work cut out for them on the national development scene, which is hardly a cause for the Mutharikas celebration when Chakwera and Chilima are not at all in any jeopardy.
However, the same cannot be said of one Thomson Mpinganjira, who has now learnt the hard way that there is a grain of truth in the Irish saying, “a friend that can be bought is not worth buying”.
Given that the only person of note who has irredeemably fallen from grace this week is Peter Mutharika’s hitherto benefactor-cum-shylock, wasn’t the former first couple perhaps celebrating the fact that with Mpinganjira’s incarceration, they are no longer under pressure to repay the plus MK900 million he testified they owe him?
Now, whether the clip’s release is a mere coincidence or not, one thing is clear: Mr Mpinganjira and his kin are not finding that clip funny.
For the rest of us, this should be a lesson. Firstly, there is no harm in living within the confines of the law. Freedom has literally no price.
Secondly, and closer home, just as it is impossible to wallow with pigs in the mud without getting dirty, it is as hard to mingle with politicians or run their errands and stay clean.
Be warned, my brothers and sisters. Beware. Nine years is a hello lot a time!
Written by Mapwiya Muulupale of The Talking Blues.