Minaj, Malawi and the Message
Wednesday was my first “night out” in Lilongwe. The sun sets here around 6:00pm and most mzungus are advised to stay inside when it’s dark unless you have a driver. Being new here, I still abide by the unwritten rules and tend to take hermit to a whole new level once I’m home for the night.
A colleague invited us out to play beach volleyball that night and offered to pick us up at home after dinner around 6:45pm. His Malawi Time watch batteries were working perfectly when he pulled up around 7:35pm to take us where “there are a lot of white people, so you won’t feel awkward”. Well he was right, there were accents of all kinds and a lot of great volleyball, we were late so we didn’t get to play but that just freed up a drinking hand.
We watched a set or two while having a beer and then Venge suggested we go where there would be some music… we rolled up to this bar called Diplomats in Venge’s nice red, leather interior Toyota Corola. We walked through a heavy black curtain in our volleyball attire and into a swanky, modern lounge where at least 20 well dressed Malawian men were watching the football game.
Kelly and I were the only women there, but hey we had been told most women in Malawi don’t really drink. Over a beer Kelly, my colleague from Ontario, told Venge how in my part of the country (Alberta) people are actually known for their ability to consume questionable quantities of alcohol and have a great time doing so and doing so often.
Well embarrassment aside for being called out as a single-woman who may be able to outdrink most men in the bar, the conversation drifted along. The beats where pumping in there, truthfully I had a hard time jumping into the discussion because I couldn’t always make out what was being said and I was kind of content just listening to the music.
There I was nodding and bobbing along to a great playlist of Malawi’s pop and dance music when a handful of very beautiful women strut past our table toward the bar, commanding the attention of the room.
I finished up my beverage and as I was hopping off my stool to find my way to the ladies room, low and behold a Nicki Minaj song comes on. I’m walking to the washroom thinking how much fun Malawian’s must have on a Saturday night, rocking these beats and dancing all night, admiring how every single woman in the city can walk through cobblestone and craters with huge high heels on, when my path is intercepted.
The ladies lead the way down a dim corridor and for a moment I question if I should also go into the washroom or allow them their privacy. Quickly realizing how stupid it is to worry about, and having already held my pee for an uncomfortable amount of time I just went on in, chuckling to myself that they are playing Nicki Minaj in Malawi.
There I am, squatting over a toilet with no seat on it, in a stall that doesn’t lock, in my half pajama half workout cotton capris when I overhear a banter on the other side of the wall. Nothing too serious but a three-way-loud-and-laughing debate. I finish, I flush, and I awkwardly squeeze through the nose powdering and lipstick smooching to wash my hands.
That is when I realized… these women were working. They weren’t just here for the sexy jams of Nicki Minaj, they were here for some high class sexy time. They were bantering over who was taking the boss and who was taking the boys tonight.
I exit the bathroom stage right, my first night out in Malawi and I was inadvertently taken to an active playground for grown men.
I couldn’t help but laugh at the sort of cliche that just took place right in front of me. I used to have a friend who was a big Nicki Minaj fan, her songs (the ones that don’t make it on the radio) are quite F-ing scandalous to be honest. The situation, while quite real just seemed kind of unbelievable.
Venge may have started off the night by taking us “where there are a lot of white people so you won’t feel awkward,” but that’s not truly where we ended up haha. I don’t mean to say I didn’t have a great evening, this actually was the highlight that’s why I’m blogging about it. It was not long after my visit to the ladies room that Kelly finished her beer too and we headed home.
And that my friends, was my first outing after dark.