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Tuesday, March 5, 2024
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REMEMBERING DD PHIRI, THE LEGENDARY MALAWIAN WRITER

BY MATILDA PHIRI (Blogger & Author of “Grace the Village Girl” Book)

On the Sunday morning of March 24th, 2019, I woke up to the news of the passing of Dada DD Phiri, the Malawian veteran author, economist, historian, and playwright. The legend is gone, but his legacy still lives on. Fellow writers were saddened to hear this news as we lost a friend, member, mentor, and role model. He inspired us a lot and encouraged us to keep writing. To the nation, we also lost a hero who inspired many people and countless youths through his amazing writing. We will always remember him for the impact he left on different writers’ lives and on Malawian literature.

As a regular columnist in the nation newspaper, he published 17 books in the fields of history, sociology, and economics. Truly, he will always be remembered. Some of his books, like “Diniwe in Dreamland,” “The History of Malawi,” and “From Nguni to Ngoni,” are great Malawian treasures. As writers, we are lobbying the government to honor him by naming a road in Malawi after him, to be called “DD Phiri Road.” This would be a fitting tribute.

Malawian writers at a writer’s training workshop in Mangochi

I will personally never forget what he did for me when I first published my book, “Grace the Village Girl,” which he reviewed in the newspaper through his weekly column. What a great man and a legend! His wish was to see more people, companies, and the government engage in the arts and appreciate them the way they do with other things like sports. It’s high time this country changes, where people start reading books, companies sponsor writing and other creative arts, and the government takes a big role in promoting arts, as other countries already do.

Arts can contribute to the country’s economy if taken seriously. We have seen this in America, Nigeria, South Africa, etc. We can do it here too. It’s high time we start promoting arts. May the soul of our father, the great writer and historian, rest in eternal peace of God! Amen!

As we celebrate the 59th anniversary of independence in Malawi, let’s remember our heroes.

I would also like to agree with the late D.D. Phiri’s article on “Rewards for Writers,” which appeared in the Daily Times on November 7, 2018. The late DD Phiri talked about how writers are valuable members of society who preserve history, culture, and status. Without writers who recorded the teachings of Israel’s prophets and Jesus, the Christian religion as we know it today would have suffered greatly. He added that it is high time for businesses and sponsors to pay closer attention to both the nation’s fiction and nonfiction writers.

As writers, we want to see businesses support writing contests in the same way that First Capital Bank did before they took a break. We still need them. We miss the short story competition. Individually, Pemphero Mphande encourages writing in Malawi by holding short story contests with cash prizes of one million kwacha. This is a positive development, and we call on many sponsors to support creative writing.

Since self-publishing is very expensive and the majority of authors don’t succeed at it, we would like to see many sponsors assist authors in publishing their books. Many excellent manuscripts that could be used as textbooks in our schools are currently gathering dust in writers’ homes, despite the fact that they could enhance this nation’s educational system. Sponsors have various options for supporting writers, including funding book publishing, poetry readings, and providing training workshops for writers.

Author Matilda Phiri receiving her FMB award in 2017

In order to promote their works, authors also want the government to purchase books written by Malawian authors and place them in the nation’s libraries and schools, similar to what the government of Uganda does and what many other African countries practice. This encourages a writing culture, which in turn fosters a reading culture. Additionally, the government can recognize writers by establishing an art academy in the country with large studios for movies and music production, catering to young people who wish to advance their artistic abilities in areas such as acting, singing, dancing, and writing. This would contribute to the development of our youths and our country as a whole.

There is power in art, and it can promote and attract large numbers of tourists to our nation. Consider Nigerian Nollywood and its music industry—these have contributed to the growth of their country’s economy through the promotion of art, and yet, Malawi possesses so much talent waiting to be discovered. Let’s bring color to our dreams and take action to make them a reality. As a nation, there is nothing we cannot accomplish. Long live Malawi!

You can visit Matilda Phiri’s blog at https://matildaphiriarticles.blogspot.com/www.facebook.com/MatildaArticles/

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