Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Silence is not always golden

IT'S BEEN quite some time since I last posted at this blog. Primarily, I had to turn back and look into myself again. What did I really seek to achieve by setting up this blog? Primarily, it was a means of getting my works of literature to be read by friends spread across the world. My initial belief was also that this blog would act as an electronic archive for my work. It was necessary to store my work electronically for those who care to access it at any time from any place. Not that my work matters, but simply because I have to have my own voice as it were.

In doing this, little did I know that a new fire would be ignited by those initial posts.

I discovered that there was more I could do to this blog. That is why I delved into culture (see A Return to My Native Land, which goes to the sub-root of my Chewa roots). I also went into art and the arts, like tackling the exhibition by artist Massa Lemu and writer Timwa Lipenga. I also tackled travel, with the post Memories from the other side of Mulanje Mountain.

The response I got was so overwhelming. There was encouragement from people I know, and some I don’t even know. People I will never meet personally. There is no better pleasure than for a writer to realize that you are able to communicate with people from diverse backgrounds, even strange to you.

One Italian, who stayed in Malawi during the colonial days believed my blog inspired him to get on with a project about the cultures of Malawi and Italy. He is based in Italy. An American Rhodes Scholar, on perusing the blog, thought I could help her find interviewees and information about a topic she was working on for her dissertation. One Slovak consultant in the oil industry in Europe, America and Africa thought I had good potential. Yet, there were misgivings. The consultant raised questions about my syntax and grammar, saying I was supposed to shine for the Malawian writers who have not thought about having their own blogs, going further to say that my writing somehow proved that Africa could not be taken seriously. I had to give the ‘nay-sayers’ no chance.

Talking of giving the 'nay-sayers' no chance, I recently signed a contract with the British Council, where my short story, Loafing Blues, will be featured in a future edition of the online Crossing Borders magazine. The magazine collects new writing from various African countries, including Zambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria and Malawi. Malawi Writers Union President Stanley Onjezani Kenani (who recently won third prize of the SABC PEN Literary award) will also be featured in the magazine soon. Malawian writers who have already featured in the magazine include Syned Mthatiwa (2005 MAWU/FMB Award Winner and 2006 MAWU/FMB third prize winner) and Jonathan Thanthwe Mbuna (2003 Peer Gynt Award winner).

In the interim, I have also received so many comments from Malawians at home, and even those in the diaspora. And it is these comments that roll the engines, with these next few posts.

A lot has been written about Malawi’s first Head of State, Dr Kamuzu Banda. I look back at my experience with him. This is my general view of the man. I do not seek to write or rewrite history. As a child, this is how I saw Dr Kamuzu Banda, and I transfer those childhood memories into my later life, having seen two presidents after him, and observing the lives of some politicians who were fighting against his ‘oppression’. Enjoy my Childhood Memories of Dr Kamuzu Banda. After all that is said, Kamuzu takes a new image from the eyes of a 12 year old, standard seven pupil….

I also go into human rights, which is separated by a very thin line from human wrongs. I present two letters by a prisoner, for two years, over crimes committed by a brother….

But I do not throw literature to the wind. I bring you The Suicide, a short story about two young marijuana addicts who lead a village wizard to commit suicide.

I can’t say thanks enough to those who visit and continue to visit this blog. You help me Ease My Pain, for I know I must write again. I am even inspired to dream by Frank Chipasula’s poem, My Father’s Last Words:
Enrich the world,
Make it beautiful;
And when you are gone,
Let the earth miss you.

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