Good people, it’s stunning how Desmond Dundwa Phiri keeps dragging the country back to the past with his relentless writings.
Even in the silver times of his hair, the economist-turned-historian keeps writing his way to the top where many fear to tread—earning an honorary degree from the University of Malawi in the process.
And this DD Phiri is somehow an embodiment of what he percieves as the stuff of legends: The kindred who either write something worthwhile or do something worth writing about.
This may be a great personification of Alexander the [so-called] Great’s’ musings, but it is almost impossible not to notice the half-truth DD Phiri churned out the previous week in defence of some overrated writers whom he finds unfairy criticised in the press.
In the man of letters’ reasoning, it is what he terms a dying reading culture, not the substandard offerings of hasty authors, that are silently killing the once-mighty Malawian writing.
Taking a perilous side, our esteemed DD Phiri argues that writers are no longer motivated to write even more if their works are shunned by readers and keep gathering dust on the shelves.
A great begining, but half the story was not told.
The diagnosis of everything going wacky about Malawian writing to which Mr Phiri is a dedicated contributor cannot be so shallow.
Being an economist, Mr Phiri should know better that there are always two sides of the coin called the book market—demand and supply.
Having tackled the dwindling demand side of the story, Mr Phiri should have tossed the coin to delve deeper into what happens to the goods when suppliers saturate the market with goods that are well below the expectation of reasonable thinking buyers.
Rather than sounding knowledgeable on matters that make Mr Phiri an erudite elder, it is no secret that writers who offload garbage into what are supposed to be bookshops cannot blame the buyers if their wanting goods keep gathering dust on the sagging shelves.
It is sheer contempt to expect Malawians to buy the local works which litter bookshops simply because they are authored by fellow Malawians. When customers go shopping, they expect value for every tambala they spend on their picks.
And this is no breaking news: The tragedy with Malawian writing is not that there is a dying reading culture, but that those who are supposed to be exemplars of standards have eyes but cannot the grim signs of the times.