Scores of people, that included politicians, government officials, the clergy and academia yesterday attended the burial of Professor David Rubadiri at the Heroes’ Acre in Mzuzu.
Notable politicians included ministers Goodall Gondwe, Jappie Mhango and Grace Chiumia.
Others were Leader of Opposition in Parliament Lazarus Chakwera and Speaker of the National Assembly Richard Msowoya.
Gondwe, who represented President Peter Mutharika said he remembered Rubadiri as one of the people who fought for the country’s independence.
On his part, Chakwera urged Malawians to emulate Rubadiri’s life to ensure that the country progresses while Msowoya saluted Rubadiri for helping him to develop into a mature politician.
Rubadiri attended King’s College, Budo in Uganda from 1941 to 1950 then Makerere University in Kampala (1952-56), where he graduated from with a bachelor’s degree in English literature and History. He later studied Literature at King’s College, Cambridge. He went on to receive a Diploma in Education from the University of Bristol.
At Malawi’s independence in 1964, Rubadiri was appointed Malawi’s first ambassador to the United States and the United Nations. When he presented his credentials to President Lyndon B. Johnson at the White House on 18 August 1964, he expressed the hope that his newly independent country would get more aid from the USA; he said that Malawi needed help to build its democratic institutions and noted that Malawi was already receiving US economic and technical help. That same year Rubadiri appeared on the National Educational Television (New York City) series African Writers of Today.
Rubadiri left the Malawian government in 1965 when he broke with President Hastings Banda. As an exile, he taught at Makerere University (1968–75), but he was again exiled during the Idi Amin years. Rubadiri subsequently taught at the University of Nairobi, Kenya (1976–84), and was also briefly, along with Okot p’Bitek, at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, at the invitation of Wole Soyinka. Between 1975 and 1980 he was a member of the Executive Committee of the National Theater of Kenya. From 1984 to 1997 he taught at the University of Botswana (1984–97), where he was dean of the Language and Social Sciences Education Department.
In 1997, after Banda’s death, Rubadiri was reappointed Malawi’s ambassador to the United Nations, and he was named vice-chancellor of the University of Malawi in 2000. He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Strathclyde in 2005.
On September 15 2018, David Rubadiri died at age 88.
Rubadiri’s poetry has been praised as being among “the richest of contemporary Africa”. His work was published in the 1963 anthology Modern Poetry of Africa (East African Publishers, 1996), and appeared in international publications including Transition, Black Orpheus and Présence Africaine.