Ken vs. Brian and the interview that never was

This radio clip presumably from Times Radio, features Brian Banda, purportedly as an interviewer, and Ken Msonda as an interviewee of sorts, is a must-listen-to for students of journalism.

Although am referring to the participants as purported “interviewer” and “interviewee”, no-one should – under any circumstances – conclude that the exchange they were engaged in was an “interview” as we know it.

The duo’s altercation is closer to bar-room brawl than it is to an interview.

And talking about tavern brawls, I can state here without fear of contradiction that back in the day when I was regularly exercising my elbow at Zingwangwa’s White House, I usually watched bloody brawls which were more civilised than the Brian vs Ken verbal punch-up.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this Brian vs. Ken duel was devoid of rules except that famous jungle rule: survival of the roughest.

The one good thing with our Malawi is the existence of an enviable number of ‘Monday Coaches’ in all spheres of life.

If you dared to join politics today for instance, and went about your business of being a politician – whatever that entails; hundreds if not thousands of ‘mentors’, ‘analysts’, and ‘experts’ would materialize from nowhere and graciously volunteer free critique on what you have said or should have said or have not said, what you have done, should have done or have not done and so on and so forth.

Entertainers, footballers, pastors, public officials, and as Brian Banda has just bitterly learnt, radio-cum-TV personalities are no exception.

It does not matter that the closest the ‘Monday Coaches’ have come to journalism is contributing anonymous comments on the Nyasa Times.

It matters less that their wisdom attracts a maximum of three likes on Facebook. As long as one ‘liker’ is from the opposite sex, they take that as certification of their analytical prowess.

So when Brian Banda got himself floored and out for the count by a marauding nomad, it was Christmas-come-early for ‘Monday Coaches’.

Now as a Malawian to the bone, I would be faulted if I failed to join the foray and offer my own piece or pieces of advice.

In fact, ‘Monday Coaching’ aside, both Brian and Ken are good friends of mine, at least on Facebook. And if I desisted from giving them a lecture of my own, they could wrongly conclude that I have abandoned them in their collective moment of thorough madness.

Let me begin with Hon Ken Msonda, for the reason that I have known him longer than Brian and indeed between the two, he is the elder.

For the record, without the Msonda family, I wouldn’t have watched – live and direct on stage in Malawi – some of the continental musical giants.

As an avid boxing follower, I owe the Msondas a lot for promoting some very entertaining boxing bouts back in the day when Malawi used to produce boxers worth the name. Little did I know then that Ken was actually learning a thing or two.

Now, given that he is an old timer – like me – I expected him to handle a ‘toddler’ like Brian literally with kid gloves and not subject the ‘infant’ to the discombobulation he subjected the chap to.

I mean, if we veterans go all out humiliating young talent, how will leaders of tomorrow – or to put it in Ken’s favourite phraseology, how will ‘atsogoleri amawa’ gain confidence?

We, and especially Ken, ought to be moderate in our altercations with minors, no matter the provocation.

And to avoid provocation, warranted or not, putting youngsters in situations where they have to question our integrity and rightly or wrongly conclude that our lack of political discipline is as a result of poverty; we should be principled.

If our party, for example, loses elections, we should not prostitute ourselves just like that.

It is our harlotry that is making youngsters young enough to be our kids believe that our nomadic politics is motivated by chasing public appointments and orders (business) from public institutions.

I mean, what is wrong with retiring from politics altogether, founding a church or an orphanage or something to that effect when one needs an outlet for excess energy?

Having said that, I am not endorsing Brian Banda’s amateurish approach to the interview.

In fact, given the proven lack of preparation he amply demonstrated, I am inclined to think that all those people he has cornered either on radio or TV are irredeemable idiots.

Look here: Msonda started out as a United Democratic Front (UDF) follower. When UDF went into ‘exile’ following the Bingu/ Muluzi fall-out, he still stuck to UDF like a stamp to a letter.

That is, until Joyce Banda and her fluke presidency happened.

Msonda then joined PP, went about town like a clown in orange gear, and was – to all intents and purposes – the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)’s worst nightmare.

Be it on TV, radio or social media, when he climbed a mole-hill to insult the DPP, he sent even the most fearsome cadets scampering for cover. In fact, to borrow Ken’s very words during his brawl with Brian, he was breathing hell fire as if Lucifer was behind him.

Now, in all likelihood, watching and listening to Msonda in full admiration was Brian Banda who himself, at Joyce Banda’s turn of fortunes in May 2012, was traversing the corridors of power and perhaps wondering if he will ever grow to the stature of the gigantic Msonda.

So, the moment Msonda announced the recent sabbatical, and ascended the hills of Cholomoni and Soche to mediate and fast for guidance on his next (obvious) political gymnastic, Brian never saw where Msonda would land.

And landing where he has obviously stunned Brian into the unprofessionalism in full display in that clip.

I will give you one:

“Mr Msonda, I have known and seen you broke…. Haven’t you joined the DPP to resolve your financial woes?”

On a positive side, althouth Brian left the ‘ring’ savagely mauled, he limped away carrying a solid promise of an air ticket to Trum-Putin land, courtesy of the largesse of Msonda and Sons Malawi Limited.

My final word to Brian is from George Carlin: “never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.”

And indeed this is what happened to poor Brian. In my view, he should have researched more and avoided tackling Msonda as a recycled politician because Msonda is not a recycled politician.

I can vouch as much for Ken.

Recycling is the practice of reusing items that would otherwise be discarded as waste. Therefore, recycling can have the desired effect of adding value to an item by reusing. And adding value is certainly NOT what our nomadic politicians do.

Recycling is markedly different from prostitution which as per Merriam-Webster Dictionary is the act or practice of engaging in promiscuous sexual relations especially for money.

If we paraphrase this as the act or practice of engaging in promiscuous political relations for various reasons, we have Msonda and his band of nomadic politicians.

Surely, interviewing practitioners of the oldest profession in the political arena should not turn into a nightmare for any journalist with average intelligence.

I rest my case.


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