Government has said plans are in the pipelines to establish community libraries across Malawi as one way of encouraging the reading culture in the country.
Local Government and Rural Development Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa disclosed this on Saturday at Jacaranda Cultural Centre in Blantyre where he presided over the 2018 National Literary Awards and also the launch of short story anthology ‘Grafted Tree and other Stories’, organised by the Malawi Writers Union (MAWU). The anthology contained stories written by women only.
Said Nankhumwa: “Government plans to establish community libraries to revive the reading culture. We have already asked the National Library Services to prepare a concept paper which shall be discussed and approved by the cabinet. Funds are already available for this project.”
In his speech, Nankhumwa also disclosed that he has authored a book titled ‘APM and the Midnight Six’ which is detailing President Peter Mutharika and other cabinet ministers’ experience when they were arrested by the Joyce Banda administration of treason charges. Nankhumwa was among the arrested.
The National Literary Awards were established last year with an aim of encouraging the writing culture in the country, with funding from Norwegian Embassy in the country. Writers submit novel manuscripts for scrutiny by a panel of three judges, who in this year, included Professor Pascal Kishindo, who is the Director of Language Studies at the University of Malawi, poet Hophman Aipira and MAWU president Mike Sambalikagwa Mvona. According to Kishindo, this year, 25 manuscripts were submitted.
In this year’s episode, ‘Chronicles of an inmate’ a manuscript by Chikumbutso Ndaferankhande scooped first position and got K1million as the award. Coming second was ‘Rising from the Bottom’ by Lucius Mafunga Phaiya and he pocked K500, 000.
Women were not left out in the awards as Victoria Kalaundi, a medical practitioner, and Matilda Phiri, who also doubles as a model and entrepreneur, scooped third and fourth positions, respectively.
Other winners were Dingani Mithi and Ndangolera Mwangupiri and received K50, 000 each as consolation prices.
According to MAWU President Sambalikagwa Mvona, the all-women anthology was meant to give chance to women in the country to speak their mind through writing.
“In other ways, we are attempting to reduce the challenges women face in the country. We want them to stop suffering in silence and speak through the pen,” said Mvona.
The anthology was financed with funding from Royal Norwegian Embassy, and according Deputy Head of Mission to Malawi, Bjarne Garden, they are satisfied with the book.
“Through this book, we have seen an emerging era in creative literature in Malawi and I think that is very encouraging for our corporation. If we look back to the history of literature in Africa, we can a number of famous writers, they are all men and we have very few female writers, and I think it’s now time for Malawi to come up and unearth the hidden female talent,” said Garden.
During the auctioning of the book, Nankhumwa purchases a copy at K500, 000.