Malawi has the potential to have great writers with the right type of motivation and mentoring, says Nick Tembo, professor of English and literature at Univesirty of Malawi.
Speaking during the prize giving ceremony to the winners of Pemphero Mphande’s story writing competition at Golden Peacock Hotel in Blantyre on Saturday, Tembo said from the stories he read, it is clear that Malawi has the potential to do better.
“I have always considered Ken Lipenga senior as one of the best short story writers in Malawi, but when I read this young man’s story [Emmanuel Kaison], I was so taken aback that I thought maybe we have another Ken Lipenga in the making,” he said.
Taking his turn, Mphande said writing is a passion and as long as one has the motivation, they will write to communicate.
“I always say writing is a process. The more you write, the more you improve,” he said.
Mphande said the purpose of the competition is to encourage writing among the youth and to develop a reading culture.
He said: “Sadly in Malawi, people are not willing to pay for talent. We need to cultivate a culture of reading and writing and be able to appreciate talent by paying for it.”
Mphande said his experience as a manager for a musician has showed him how hard it is to survive using one’s talent.
“It is time we learn to place value on the creative industry and appreciate it,” he said.
Mphande said they hope the prizes the five winners got will motivate others to write more. He is optimisnitic that he would get more and better entries in next year’s edition f the competition.
“Next year it will be bigger and better,” he said.
During the competition, Emmanuel Kaison came out overall winner and walked away with K200 000 while Jonathan Ngoma was second and got K150 000. On third place is Nomsa Nungu who got K100 000 and Winfrida Kamwana came fourth. She got K50 000 while Linda Mulamba came last and walked away with K25 000.
Reacting to the win, overall winner Kaison said he was overjoyed with the win and said he is encouraged to do more.
He said: “I decided to write about suicide in my short story tiled Guilt because Malawi is currently dealing with more cases of suicide, with men as the main victims. Everyone can play their part. I decided to use my talent for the same and I hope it helps.”
The other five writers who reached the finals are Anabel Maduka, Gift Chigundo, Grace Mazengera, Yolanda Wandawanda and Dalitsani Lucy Alsemo. The competition was sponsored by Bradley and Teely.