Sometimes the way people live is a matter of choice. A choice to let others influence their lifestyle or not. To believe themselves and respect their situations and decisions or not. However, it takes a brave man with strong creed of principles to avoid the trap of worldly temptations or influences from other people to shake them. This is just exactly how Aaron Sangala, a family member of late writer and literature professor the late Steve Chimombo, remembers him. He sheds more light in this interview with our reporter HOWARD MLOZI:
Firstly, give us a brief background of your relationship with the late Professor Steve Chimombo?
We are all from Mantchichi family tree in Samuel-Makoka Village, which used to be called Zangala Village in Naisi, Zomba. Our great grandfather married to a kingship family from where the likes of Che Dola and Gilbert Botha clans emerged. His mother Akuphelani is a sister to Gilbert Botha. And my mother, from the Che Dora lineage, and the late Steve Chimombo are direct cousins.
Commenting briefly on his academic life from the days in the village, Steve had been a hard worker all along. He used to go to a nearby river to study as well as bath. No wonder, he became a professor and a source of pride in our village.
How can you describe his personality?
He was a great man and very inspiring. The one who chose to live his own life. A life which was inspired by reading helpful literature which shaped the world around him and his family.
In a nutshell, I can say that my uncle Steve was a critical thinker who dared a very situation with reasoning. And he lived a very admiring life of reading and writing, which impacted greatly on his academic and everyday life as a husband, father, writer and poet. He also loved playing the piano aside his books.
How do you remember Steve Chimombo?
Uncle Steve became a personal friend, also. In fact, it was in 1981 when I was studying French literature. I came across one of the things I wanted to study. It was a topic to do with philosophy of existentialism, which is the opposite of predestination. Then I came across one French philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre, who argued that people should be defined by their acts rather than what was already predefined by God. So, I went to him to help me interpreting such a school of thought. I was overwhelmed with his response in which he argued that the whole essence of the philosophy was to advance a simple life. No wonder, he was also living a simple life. And his meeting of wife Moira was great because the two had many things in common; making them lead the kind of life they choose easily.
Secondly, I will always remember uncle Steve because of his intense love for reading and analysing things. I remember this other day his wife had left him with a task of attending to a pot of relish which was being prepared. But he complained to me that he was too busy to look after the very relish he was going to eat because he was analysing Yao proverbs.
Thirdly, Steve was the man who loved arts in Malawi. He introduced his own special publishing company that was fosused on arts and artists in Malawi called Writers and Artists Services International (Wasi). It was published three times a year.
He helped to expose and promote talent of different artists, including me. He published my first poem called An Athlete At The Olympics, which I wrote in 1982. He also covered most of Du Chisiza’s plays that time. Steve was also entirely involved in the establishment of Malawi Pen and Malawi Writer Union (Mawu).
He is a kind of man I will always cherish in my life because he taught me a lot of things. n