Every person has a field in which they hold on to, a talent which defines them, a skill on which they thrive and flourish. But some individuals transcend the use of talent to create a fusion that is neither a survival tool nor a character definition.
Although he is mostly known as an MBC radio presenter, Hope Chisanu is such an all-rounder that it has become difficult to define him in terms of talent.
Let us face it, not all radio personalities are cheered when walking in the streets. However, this mild-manner, multi-talented radio personality, MC and occupational farmer is an exception on that front. The radio personality-cum-movie actor has captured the hearts of many.
Chisanu has become the poster boy of the fledgling Malawian movie after his stand-out roles in Shemu Joyah’sSeasons of a Life and The Last Fishing Boat.
But for people who follow theatre in Malawi, the name Hope Chisanu is not something from the skies.
He has been lurking in the shadows for some time, but the degree of his fame has changed following his recent involvement in a number of local movies, plays and soap operas.
For the actor, this career is not something that emerged from the blues; it sprouted way back in 1988 while a student at Dzenza Secondary School when he starred in a play M’thungo, which enabled the school drama group to participate in the national drama event.
Using his talent, Chisanu followed his heart, becoming more interested in acting and starring in Lethal Weaponand Africa which were directed and produced by veteran playwright and director Paul Paseli.
In a quest to enhance and cherish his love for drama, Chisanu, with assistance from Mufunanji Magalasi, currently associate professor in drama and development media at Chancellor College, found himself co-directing Dzenza Secondary School drama group after he had left the school.
Even though he took a break from acting in the early 90s Chisanu still had the passion in acting and joined Du Chisiza’s Wakhumbata Ensemble Theatre and took part in different performances along the years.
“I have acted in MBC’s Theatre of the Air, Story Workshop’s Zimachitika, Tititonse and Mbali Yanga, Dreamland’s soap opera Mama’s Restaurant, Pakachere’s After the Honeymoon and Tinkanena.
“I am glad to say it is in the acts of these short movies and plays that shaped my acting career,” he tells On the Arts.
All this acting prepared him for bigger things to come.
Come 2009, Chisanu starred in Shemu Joya’s award-winning movie Seasons of a Life as a lawyer and in 2013’sLast Fishing Boat in which he took the leading role of the stubborn cultural custodian and fisherman Che Yusuf.
“I was lucky to have been picked to star in these movies for I have become a man of the people. People view me differently than before and the level of my status in society has changed. When I walk in the streets today, I hear people whispering ‘that’s him’ and those with courage approach me to personally acknowledge my talent,” Chisanu, whose radio personality is Bemberezu, says.
“I have a lot of friends on Facebook. I am more exposed now in as far as movie production is concerned. I could say acting has greatly improved my talent,” explains the humble looking actor.
And on the future of the movie industry in Malawi, Chisanu says there is a gradual change in the industry.
“Malawi is a developing country and there are a number of challenges the movie industry is facing. However, I have high hopes that the country will improve for the better because we have good actors,” he says.
“I urge companies to look beyond football and develop that same interest they have in football in the movie industry because, just like football, movies too could help in the development of the country,” he said.
Chisanu is currently working as a head of light entertainment at the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation and is studying towards a degree in journalism at the Blantyre International University.