Not long ago, finding a book written by a Malawian female author in local bookstores and on home shelves was almost impossible since such books were almost non-existent.
The diminishing levels of the reading culture among Malawians as observed by literary scholars also led to publication of books to significantly decrease in the country.
However, the situation seems to be changing for the better following the sudden rise in the number of Malawian women inviting books tackling a variety of topics in the recent past.
For instance, this year alone academic Timwa Lipenga, Deputy Minister of Labour Vera Kamtukule, America-based Caroline Kautsire, Gertrude Gomani, motivational speakers Sara Khuze and Deliwe Makata have released books carrying varying contemporary themes.
The list of women who have released books this year also includes Lindsay Katchika-Jere, who recently launched her book series titled The Adventures of Thoko.
According to the 20-year-old African Bible College graduate, the scarcity of literature on artifacts and history that targets children ignited her passion to write the book.
“This gap in information prompted me to write this book series expanding on the themes of promoting heritage, museum and science education, with children as the main target audience,” Katchika-Jere said.
She also indicated that lack of stories that portray the girl child and Malawian women as conquerors, achievers and instruments of change was another driving force in her writing.
“If you read most books of local authors, you will discover that Malawian women are mostly portrayed as victims or dependants, and it was about time to change the narrative through the plot of my book.
“That is the reason the main character in the book is a young girl called Thoko, who upon discovering that a meteorite is missing in the museum, makes an effort to investigate and find it. In the end, she is honoured as a hero of the museum,” said Katchika-Jere.
On the rise in numbers of Malawian women writing books, Katchika-Jere described the development as progress, but was quick to point out that it is not an easy journey.
“There are more spaces for women and girls1 to explore in the literature world because art gives a lot of opportunities globally. That is what is triggering the increase in the number of women releasing books.
“Still more, the challenge is that Malawi’s book industry is small. One has to write, raise funds for publishing and push hard to market it too. It is not for the faint-hearted,” she said.
Kautsire, who earlier this year released a book titled What Kind of Girl which aims to share how awkward and confusing growing up can be using her experiences, commended women writers, saying it shows that they have discovered the power of their voice.
“More of our women have realised the power of their voice; hence, the diversity of themes
from poetry, fiction and non-fiction.in books being released ranging
“The writing profession belongs to both men and women, and the rise in female writers will help them to make their creative contributions and expressions on daily livelihood,” she said.
Kautsire encouraged women who want to pursue book writing to find strength in using their voice in honest ways.
“There is power in weaving narratives as they help people to understand the world better,” she said.
Kautsire is quick to advise women writers to connect since the publishing industry has existing and emerging challenges.
In an earlier interview, another female author Gertrude Gomani said she was motivated to start writing to give women a voice.
“My desire to reach many in their walks of life through art encouraged me to have the book published and here I am,” said Gomani, who this year published her first book titled Reminiscence.