Writer Desmond Dudwa Phiri, popularly known as DD Phiri, says lack of recording events taking place in the country is one of the factors that derail its development strategies.
He made the remarks on Wednesday at Chancellor College (Chancol) in Zomba during the re-launch of nine of the 20 books he has authored since 1947 when he embarked on a writing mission aged just 16.
The collection—which includes titles like Let Us Die for Africa, History of Malawi Volume 2, History of Malawi from Earliest Times to the Year 1915, I see You, The Chief’s Bride, Diniwe in Dreamland, Let Us Fight for Africa, Success and From Nguni to Ngoni—was supported by the Anglia Book Distributors Limited.
Phiri said the country remains uncivilised in some circles of her life as she is ignorant of what her ancestors did in the past.
He cited the area of medication, saying before the introduction of drugs for curing diseases in the country by the whites, the country’s ancestors got sick and were probably healed.
“How were they healed? If they used herbs, which herbs were they using? If a brief account of all these traditional medicines was written somewhere, it could have been very easy for the current generation to build new drugs from the ancestors’ knowledge,” said Phiri.
The writer says he wants to be remembered as a ‘teacher’ of history through books. He called on Malawians—especially academic researchers—to publish books about their findings and make them readily available for public consumption.
“If you do not write, you die with your knowledge. Let us write, especially on our local issues for the future generations to have information on the past so that they successfully move this country forward,” said Phiri, who authors a number of columns, including The DD Phiri Column in The Nation.
He further cautioned writers to market their works aggressively by advertising them in both print and electronic media, saying this is the only way they can make considerable sales from their products.
“Writing is rewarding, but do not expect people to appreciate and buy your books if you have not told them that you have the books,” he said.
Anglia Book Distributors Limited customer service director Gideon Gonondo described Phiri as a “living historian” whose work needs to be recognised as it archives the country’s history.
He called on institutions such as schools to procure Phiri’s books for the benefit of the students’ knowledge.
Chancellor College librarian Vuwa Phiri described DD Phiri as an asset in the country’s education system, saying his books—since time immemorial—have widely been used by a number of scholars and researchers within and outside the college.