His name and character might be new in writing and creative space, however, he is a talent that has been hibernating for long and has now come out to feature among the elite Malawian writers that have seen the light of publishing.
Joseph Mwenecho Mkandawire, writing under a pen name Chijere M.J Chijere, is currently trending having published a novel titled Gut Punch and a self-help book titled Everything Is Possible.
The novel tells a story set in an African republic called Dambilo where issues of corruption, albino abductions and killings, tribalism and nepotism have taken centre stage.
The main character Seketela is at the point of exposing in court the most powerful man in the presidency who is believed to be behind most killings and silencing of critics.
Corruption has reached epidemic levels. Plunder of resources, looting of the public purse by politicians, and shady dealings of businesspersons have become the norm. The Legislature, Executive, and Judiciary are all under siege by unscrupulous men. The economy of the country is in free-fall. Tribalism, nepotism, regionalism, and lawlessness rule the consciousness of those in power in a country on autopilot.
Abductions and murders of people with albinism are rampant. But when the chief investigations officer for the anti-corruption commission is assassinated in cold blood, an awakening begins. That awakening is heightened by the mysterious deaths of a young human rights activist and four politicians. The president and his associates are charged with conspiracy to murder the four politicians, sparking an intense courtroom drama where prosecutors and state lawyers engage in battle.
Adding to the mix of murder and mayhem is the element of black magic which is sought by parties on both sides. Seketela is determined to put to an end the suffering and injustice inflicted on the poor by the zombie-like politicians.
“This is an intriguing, epic, mind-bending and heart gripping novel that paints pictures of the belief in witchcraft and sorcery, corruption, nepotism, legal court battle and also the political struggle for power of presidency,” he says.
A critical analysis and review of the book figuratively depicts issues that have been and are happening in Malawi. It’s a book that has purely given the leeway to thoughts, assumptions and realities.
“Well, I believe that in writing one has to communicate and it is always exciting to write about issues that many fear to express. However, the story line and characters are all fictional and a salivating taste of my creative dish,” says Chijere.
Commenting on his writing journey, Chijere says his inspiration has been his late mother Tamara Kasila who fed him with literary material from a tender age.
“My late mother used to give short stories to read owing to the fact that she was a teacher. It was then that I nurtured my writing skills. When I was 10 years old in 1997, I won the first prize in a short story writing competition at St Mary’s Boys Primary School in Karonga and went on to represent my school at a national competition where I won it for the school too,” he explained.
Chijere M.J. Chijere was born and raised in Karonga and both his parents were teachers. He went on to study at St Patricks Seminary in Rumphi where he got selected to The Polytechnic to pursue a degree in electrical engineering. He relishes his time at St Patricks as the birth of his serious writing career owing to the encouragement of his English teacher Barbara Banda who spotted raw talent and encouraged him. He now works as an Information Security Risk Analyst with National Bank of Malawi.
He started writing Gut Punch in 2016. It is a novel that has got mystery, thrill, suspense and incorporates fantasy. It is ground-breaking in African literature in that it is a cross-genre that crosses alternate fiction with satire and irony. Such a combination is quite unusual and the nearest similar novel is Zoo City by Lauren Beukes. It is a very interesting combination and makes for an unpredictable read.
He decided to self-publish his book having noticed the struggle that many writers go through to get published. The book is available is the country and also on Amazon in both eBook and paperback formats.
A book launch is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2019. Gut Punch will be launched alongside his self-help book titled Everything Is Possible which has also hit Amazon.