Scores of people from all walks of life that gathered at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre yesterday bore testimony to what of comedian John Nyanga alias Izeki was worth to the country as he was escorted on his last mile.
The thespian, born John Nyangayathyoka on June 13 1963 in a royal family at Nyangayathyoka Village in Traditional Authority (T/A) Mabuka in Mulanje, attained indescribable fame due to his humorous stage prowess and radio plays he delivered alongside lifetime collaborator Eric Mabedi alias Jakobo.
Although he lived like a commoner in the Makata area of Ndirande Township, Nyanga remained an enigma despite the fact that some people berated him at first sight because of his funny demeanour.
During his illness, Nyanga struggled to cope with life, with few friends and well-wishers coming to his rescue, yet in death, people appreciated his influence and how powerful a character he was.
The eulogists described the actor as an influential pillar of Malawi’s theatre revolution.
And it was not only ordinary people that paid respects to Nyanga for his talent and work, but also high profile personalities such as politicians and fellow artists.
His legacy was chorused by numerous speeches delivered by different mourners, including artists and the clergy from the Catholic Church’s Holy Ghost Parish in Ndirande.
Aside ordinary people gathered at Kamuzu Stadium to pay their last respects, Nyanga’s death united politicians from different political parties that praised him in union.
President Peter Mutharika and former president Bakili Muluzi described Nyanga as a great son of Malawi who united Malawians regardless of political affiliation.
Through Minister of Sports and Culture Grace Chiumia, Mutharika said Nyanga played a great role in transforming the country through drama.
Chiumia said: “The President recognises the role Izeki played in the country and his death is a big blow not only to the arts industry, but also the country as whole. His plays were entertaining and at the same time educative which helped to transform Malawi.”
The minister added that arts are a powerful tool for social and behaviour change.
Speaking on behalf of Muluzi, and United Democratic Front (UDF) president Atupele Muluzi, the party’s general secretary Kandi Padambo said artists play a significant role in democratic and political processes.
Said Padambo: “Izeki was part and parcel of Malawi’s development because his works tackled a number of issues that affected Malawians. Throughout his career as a comedian, he demonstrated an influential figure on democratic and political processes.”
Speaking on behalf of the country’s artists, seasoned writer Willie Zingani told the audience that Nyanga inspired the growth of drama in Malawi.
“We cannot talk about drama in Malawi without mentioning Izeki who did not only help to drive the industry forward, but also inspire many dramatists that are performing today,” said Zingani, who is the author of Madzi Akatayika and Njala Bwana, both of which were turned into stage plays in which Nyanga starred.
Group Village Head Somanje Makata from Ndirande described Nyanga as a true son of Ndirande who helped to raise the township’s profile.
Said the chief: “We have lost a great son who was representing us in the arts. His humble beginning and rise to stardom remains an inspirational story to residents of Ndirande.”
Notable politicians at the service included Blantyre Malabada MP Aaron Sangala, Balaka North MP Lucius Banda, Blantyre City South’s Allan Ngumuya and Bon Kalindo of Mulanje South Constituency. n