When Mamvura drove the Bus: A version from the Citizens Village, a tribute to Dr. Alex Magaisa
As the passengers looked on their despaired faces peaking through their masks many thoughts running through their minds. Some were hopeful perhaps Mamvura took some driving lessons before his mind left him, others more realistic considered escape options, others considered to plot to rescue the bus from Mamvura and saved the passengers. Time unfortunately did not stand still as different thoughts went through their minds the reality of Mamvura driving the bus continued to unfold, fear forming a tangible mist amongst them.
Some of the passengers gambled with their Maker fleeing the moving bus using the emergency panels some even using the passenger door. It was hard to tell if any of the escaping passengers made it alive. The remaining passengers were far too overwhelmed by thoughts of their own demise to consider the safety of those who fled.
As pandemonium broke out crying babies, screaming mothers , shouting men, a young men from the back shouted out … ‘Pamusoroi Vabereki!’ – he began, his demeanour somewhat assured and a lot less panicked, ‘Zvamunoona – we must work together if we don’t do that tinoparara, Mwari vachatibatsira’.
‘Mamvura a crazy man is driving the bus but together as a coalition of sorts, we can recover the bus and save our own lives’, he continued. A few appeared disgruntled as he spoke – ‘Who told you that Mamvura is a mad man?’ they proclaimed.
It would turn out they were somewhat right Mamvura’s afflictions where non-medical rather some suggested his odd relationship with the brown bottle during the sunshine hours resulted in his sub-par mental status at odd times in the day.
Their suggestion that all would be okay appeared somewhat oblivious to the bus being driven in first gear at 50miles an hours and swerving vigorously from side to side. Someone shouted back , ‘ Do you not realise this bus has been taken over by a mad man ?’
As the discussion ensued, Mamvura in his excitement appeared to finally figure out why the bus wasn’t going as fast as he had imagined – almost by sheer lack in his fiddling he moved the bus into 3rd gear and away he was. He grinned from ear to ear with loud uproarious laughter – ‘Maiti handiritori bhazi! Ndaritoraka!’.
Mamvura was so pleased with himself even as he drove over a discarded pole on the side of the road and puncturing the back wheel. He was off and incharge the stuff his dreams where made off . He hadn’t thought about how he would halt the bus should he need to for now all he did was steer it whichever way and keep that foot on the pedal ….
Passenger panic was now in full swing – the heavily pregnant woman pondered about the fete of the life she carried, those who were travelling to access medical care in the support raised their voices in despair ‘we will surely die!’ they said.
All panicked but the assured young man he had a calming but authoritative ore about him. Some whispered he must a Pastor or Bishop some thought him too educate perhaps a lawyer or accountant either way he commanded a trust that was welcomed in this peculiar situation.
The young man assured them, ‘Anamai takabatana tinosvika, take courage lets work together.’ As he devised a plan with other passengers another guy emerged from among them. This guy believed that instead of trying to take over from Mamvura why don’t they instead coach him on how to drive the bus properly and help him bring it to a safe halt.
He believed that Mamvura would listen to him given his vast experience as a coach. ‘Have you ever dealt with a man as mad as this ?,’ another passenger asked , ‘No!’ the pro-coaching guy insisted, “but I have many academic accolades from the best university I believe I can convince him.”
And so he was off to speak to Mamvura for all of 4 minutes between 20:18 and 20:22, he spoke to him. Mamvura appeared to listen intently too.. ‘You see!’ the naysaying passengers exclaimed , ‘There was no need to escape or take over from Mamvura he is a listening driver we will be okay.’
As the coaching guy rejoined the others as they looked to him for feedback, Did you tell him we are running out fuel they asked… ‘ Zvakarongeka!’ he said reassuring the passengers that all will be okay. But as he returned to his seat, Mamvura let out the loudest laugh gleaming from ear to ear – you see he did listen to the instructions with intent but his goal not to make the situation any better.
Mamvura suddenly increased gears and put the foot firmly on the acceleration pedal the bus was now travelling firmly at 100 miles an hour. Suitcases flew off the top of the bus as he swayed this way and that way. All this creating a moss of strange litter in the road.
Drinks and other food like substances scattered from inside the bus giving a pungent smell when mixed with a concoction of ‘other’ gasses that can be found in moments of panic. The escalating situation becoming worsened as even the adults messed themselves in panic.
Before the coaching guy could express his remorse Mamvura’s wandering fingers found the stereo button and as he switched it on he was on top of the world as the DJ belted his favourite Jah Prayzah song he quite simply couldn’t believe his luck.
‘We must save this bus to save ourselves,’ the young man exclaimed together with a few others they devised a plan. They planned for a couple of them to use their phones to let others know where the bus was so that they could orchestrate help these would be responsible on providing updates each time they got to an area with good signal network. Others would deliver a plan to distract Mamvura while the other steered also monitoring the fuel situation.
The other would take over the pedals from Mamvura with their hands until eventually Mamvura was completely distracted. A great plan it was but it would require time and very careful orchestration for it could only take a second for a passenger bus driven by a mad man to completely spiral out of control.
One wrong turn at the oncoming sharp curves and it would be over for everyone.
One of the passengers who was a famous author decided to use riddles to maintain the calm of the passengers. It seemed that the panicking noises of the passengers spurred Mamvura on . Infact everytime the passengers as he approached sharp turns with wreckless abandon Mamvura either threatened them with death or bizarrely mistook their screams for cheers.
So this author passenger figured out the best approach was to help keep the passengers calm as the others focussed on a plan to get the bus back. ‘Munombonzani?’, a young man in distressed shouted, ‘ do you know I am supposed to finally marry my bride today?’ the young man continued.
‘You can call me Mkoma Tawa, ’ the author calmly replied. Not before long Mukoma Tawa had the passengers captivated by his stories that taught some of the most important life stories. They seemed like very well orchestrated philosophies that caused the passengers to introspect and choose peace.
As the young man’s rescue plan unfolded he explained to the passengers that they were going to orchestrate the plan. Some of the passengers only to be excused by their drunkenness suggested still that Mamvura should be trusted.
Mukoma Tawa explained to the other passengers that the naysayers would never be convinced mainly because of their drunken stupor he concluded it would be futile to keep engaging them.
Infact he would explain that these drunken naysayers were infact enabling Mamvura to continue driving the bus by diverting the focus from the rescue plan. So the passengers left the naysayers to continue their nattering amongst themselves. The pro coaching guy having made the embarrassing blander earlier seemed to lose his voice as he sat quietly in the corner secretly hoping that the young man’s rescue plan would eventually work.
Unbeknown to the passengers that were in the bus a few of the ones that had jumped out of the moving bus had organised themselves to get help . They persuaded a driver in another bus to help them follow the Mamvura driven bus to try and assist the remaining passengers. They figured they could help by somehow slowing down the bus and encouraging them to escape in a similar manner to what they had done.
You see everyone feared what would happen at those sharp turns! Another group of escaped passengers had thought of a different way to help. They managed to hitch a lift to the nearest police station their thinking was that trained Police Officers could engage the Firebrigade or the army to assist the passengers. AS they tried to explain their ordeal to the police captain initially they were met by a surprising silence. “Well…” he eventually explained.
‘This is an interesting situation and a very frightening one indeed, however do you realise we the police could also get killed by Mamvura in this situation?’ This surprised the passengers a ‘whole policeforce scared of Mamvura…?’ But not even the police force where equipped to rescue a bus being driven by a mad man they pronounced – he could run the lot of them over and kill each one should he chose to. With that the police offered no assistance.
The other escaped passengers the one who found a bus eventually caught up to the Mamvura driven bus. They pulled up to drive alongside him and soon he was distracted talking to a fellow driver. Somehow the idea of talking to another driver gave Mamvura an extra kick.
It was as though he got the affirmation he needed to be finally recognised as a driver. As he chatted to the other driver the team inside the bus on instruction from the calm young man were able to reduce the gears and steer the bus.
One passenger calmly opened the drivers door and when it was near enough fully opened they gently pushed Mamvura out. The capable young man jumped into the driver seat with joyous uproar from the remaining passengers. Their nightmare ordeal was finally over.
As they drove on alas a silent deep hurting wail was heard from the back of the bus. ‘Ko chii manje chaitika?’ – the new driver asked – ‘Its Mukoma Tawa someone said.’ It later transpired that sometime just before the young man had taken over the bus Mukoma Tawa had in his own way escaped the ordeal of Mamvura.
The bus fell silent as all remembered the calm with which he had ushered them through the ordeal with his philosophical stories. While most of the passengers never quite knowing much detail about Mukoma Tawa they had bonded with him almost as that big brother with a word in season to help navigate the storm.
In the silence of that bitter sweet victory they were certain that without him they may never have survived the ordeal of Mamvura – The Mad Man who drove the bus…..
In memory of Dr. Alex Tawanda Magaisa ( 1975-2022).
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