There have been rumours that the infamous “Amai” recently acquired herself a dam (which is what we, the villagers, call a lake, in case you get confused). She just woke up one day and declared that the dam was hers, yes you got that right, hers. These rumours have not been substantiated but as we say in the village, there is no smoke without fire. How does someone own a whole dam for herself, we wondered, what do you do with it, swim? fish? or maybe just admire it? Maybe because we are mere villagers the reasons are beyond our comprehension, as you graduate to the city you may appreciate the need to have yourself a dam or two, maybe even a mountain.
We were infuriated but barely surprised by this rumour as the same Amai not so long ago “acquired” a university degree for herself, that’s right, an actual PHD, I should apologize for not rightly calling her Dr Amai. A few days ago she reminded us at a gathering in the village that she is very educated, whether we like it or not, she added. Let me point out that the fact that she is indeed educated has never been in doubt as a few months back she took her time to explain to us how bees mate in the air while flying, again at a gathering in a different village.
Let’s get back to the dam before I get lost in the jungle of Dr Amai’s exploits. I had never seen this dam before until recently when I started driving past it on a regular basis, I should say it is a marvel. The large body of water appears so calmly nested between the mountains and the winding highway which occasionally gets too close to the water to give a mixed feeling of fear and excitement to any sober driver. I can almost understand Amai’s desire to claim this dam for herself, but then again it is a village dam whose ownership must remain with the villagers.
The other day while driving home, I saw a fellow villager by the roadside at Amai’s dam selling fish, obviously villagers have been doing this for years to earn a living but on this day I couldn’t help but wonder so many things. Are the villagers still allowed to fend for their families in this way or is it now a federal crime. If I stop to buy her fish will I not be charged with some offense of Amai’s choosing. Who does the fish now belong to. Suffice to say I did not buy the fish even though the idea of freshly caught fish seemed tempting, one does not cross Amai’s path and escape her wrath. One esteemed civil servant was recently dressed down at yet another village gathering and though he is very outspoken we haven’t heard from him since then.
On a different day while driving to work, just around the curve at Amai’s dam there was a group of baboons basking in the sun right in the middle of the road. As I waited for them to disperse I wondered to myself if the baboons now belonged to Amai as well, just by looking at them it was obvious that they didn’t care, and I realized then that the villagers had long since adopted a similar attitude towards Amai’s antics, which is probably why she takes them to even more ridiculous levels every time. As the last of the baboons, which appeared to have a limp, took it’s time to get off the road, I had to find my way around it and be on my way. I laughed to myself as I thought of the well known village idiom, “kujaidza makudo neano kaminha.” How well it applied at that moment and in a more wider context.
As one approaches the dam from the other side, an observant village eye will see a mansion fit for royalty on a mountain top roughly a kilometer from the dam. It was just recently that I learnt that this “crib”, as those from the city would call it, belongs to none other than Amai. There have been rumours that some villagers were recently evicted from a nearby farm after it had caught Amai’s eye. The dam is just the latest of her acquisitions, she is building herself an empire in what used to be a quiet and unknown village, and that is the story of Amai’s dam.