Writer and academician DD Phiri’s memory may be fading in the lives of others but not at Jacaranda School where he has been immortalised through a huge mural.
The huge painting, which is just outside the school wall, shows DD Phiri in his trademark Wilson hat, black tinted shades and overcoat. The mural is courtesy of a collaborated work between Otis School of Art and Design and students of Jacaranda School of Orphans.
Jacaranda Schools director Luc Deschamps in an interview said the establishment felt that the mural would be a fitting homage to the distinguished author who personally made a huge contribution to their school.
The director said: “He always encouraged the youth to read and write. He actually wrote stories for the students such as Diniwe In Dreamland which was a variation of Alice In Wonderland in an African setting.”
The commissioning of the mural is not the first time the school has honoured the fallen writer. In 2018, DD Phiri was also honoured at Jacaranda Cultural Centre through an exhibition of photos of his life. The event was attended by members of his family and his friends.
Deschamps said it was easy to arrive at the choice of DD Phiri out of other names owing to the profile that he built for himself as a writer through his commentary on various issues published in some of the country’s leading newspapers.
“DD Phiri was very diverse and a prolific writer. He was such a rare breed. He was so welcoming and accessible. He was a great communicator who would write in simple terms so that everyone could understand. Actually, we need someone to write his biography,” he said.
Commenting on the gesture, veteran author Alfred Msadala commended Jacaranda School but urged for a wholesale mindset change, political will and policy direction that will facilitate for the government to appreciate and honour writers as heroes.
He said: “In Malawi, it is the private citizens who regard writers as heroes. The government is yet to realise this. There are so many individuals which we needed to celebrate but unfortunately we have not.”