In Edward Kwisongole, a village near the old Malawian Capital Zomba, seasoned journalist Aaron Sande, better known as “Akwete” was on Friday escorted to his final resting place.
Sande, a noted journalist, publisher, poet and former government diplomat succumbed to cancer on September 17, 2020 at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in the Malawian commercial capital, Blantyre. He was 58.
Thousands of well-wishers, including a few of his peers and apprentices, were present as he was laid to rest with prayers and choral singing by a local branch of the Blantyre Synod of CCAP church.
Sande had converted from Islam along the way.
“He will best be remembered as a journalist-cum media activist. He has his own place in Malawi’s fledgling media history,” said retired former University of Malawi (The Polytechnic) journalism lecturer Costly Mtogolo.
Speaking on behalf of the local media industry, Associated Press (AP) Correspondent Gregory Gondwe praised the fallen journalist for his pioneering and brave spirit.
“Akwete Sande is one of the pioneers of Malawi’s new media wave that came after Malawi’s multiparty dispensation. As a publisher and editor for many years, he was an inspiration to many,” he said.
Gondwe, who is also Secretary General of the Association of Business Journalists (ABJ) credited Sande with mentoring up-coming journalists.
“He kept his door open and most journalists tapped into his vast knowledge of the trade,” he noted.
Sande’s health deteriorated this week following delays to receive corrective surgery of his condition in Harare, Zimbabwe on account of lack of funds.
A total of K8.5 million was required for his further treatment.
The Malawi Media Hub, a grouping of media professionals on Whatsapp and other unidentified well-wishers raised over K1.5 million, according to Andrew Chikho who headed a fund-raising initiative. But It was not enough.
Amongst other accolades, Akwete is credited with starting Malawi Today, a bi-weekly newspaper which he modelled on the USA Today.
Prior he worked as a teacher, a radio journalist at state broadcaster MBC and as a diplomat in Namibia and Zimbabwe between 2000 and 2005. Upon being withdrawn from diplomatic services, the veteran journalist returned to the newsroom at The Daily Times, as a Sub Editor.
He later started Teldoc, a television production company in partnership with former Malawi News Agency (MANA) Editor Don Napuwa.