During his eight year stay in Malawi as a Norwegian Ambassador, Asbjorn Eidhammer invested his interest in following political personalities both past and present, he watched the metamorphosis of Malawi’s democracy and he took keen interest in the stories behind the country’s physical features and its culture which left him so intrigued.
Ancient stories of Akafula, John Chilembwe, Dr David Livingstone, Karonga Chief, Kamuzu Banda, Dunduzu Chisiza, the Chambo fish and many other personalities and features provided an inspiration to Eidhammer which would eventually give birth to a book ‘Malawi a Place Apart’.
Speaking during the launch of the book on Wednesday evening at the Story Club in area 47 Lilongwe, the former Ambassador said having keenly followed the Malawian story, he got hooked to it and was compelled to write his own take.
“When you go to a country and you stay there for some time and you read about it and hear stories, it becomes more and more interesting. Malawi has such an interesting history and an interesting political story. And I felt after eight years maybe I could contribute a little bit to the understanding of the country.
“I am trying to portray the country in a way in which it gives people better understanding of how its society is, how it functions and how Malawians live, the reasons behind the political and economic developments and so on,” said Eidhammer.
He said he tried to highlight stories which may look smaller today but have a bigger impact in the near future, citing the incident where women were undressed in the streets of some Malawian cities some years ago.
Asked if it was possible for Malawi to tap from the experiences he has shared in his book as it continues with its quest to realise its full development, he said though it may not be easy, it is achievable.
“It is a toll order but possible. There are things that are happening right now which point to the right direction like the communication infrastructure being laid down and all,” he said.
Present during the launch of the book was current Norwegian Ambassador, Kikkan Haugen who said among others the book would prove a good source of information and learning about Malawi as a country in different aspects.
“The book is well written, well researched, an intelligent book, well informed and an interesting piece of literature. The stories have been told with a deep insight which clearly shows a deep understanding of Malawi’s history,” said Haugen.
He said Malawians as individuals and as a people should use the experiences shared in the book to reflect on the issues and let it stimulate a positive debate which should help in shaping a better political and cultural understanding of the country.
The book has been published by Muti Phoya under the Logos_Open Culture Publishers who has urged Malawians to borrow a leaf from what Eidhammer has done by adopting a similar discipline in conducting extensive research when they embark on similar projects.
“As Malawians we are making efforts in the area of publishing but we need to get more organised more especially in the area of research. The amount of work you invest in your preparations determines the quality of your product at the end of the day,” said Phoya.
‘Malawi a Place Apart’ is already on the shelves and it is going at MK10, 000 per copy. (By Brian Itai, Mana)