Clocks chimed towards 3.50 pm when the body of Smart Likhaya Mbewe, the famous co-pioneer of radio drama in the country, was lowered into the grave on Sunday.
A sombre mood engulfed Muliya Cemetery in Traditional Authority (T/A) Juma in Mulanje as hundreds of mourners, including government officials, business gurus, and dramatists witnessed the burial of veteran performer named Kapalepale after a Saturday evening drama programme on Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) Radio One which made him a household name.
He died of stroke on Friday at Mulanje District Hospital.
In his eulogy, Minister of Information and Communication Technology Nicholas Dausi said the nation has lost a great man who helped preserve cultural values through drama.
“Likhaya was one of the pioneers of radio drama in the country. He had a rare talent in the field. The nation has lost a great man,” he said.
Dausi asked dramatists to emulate Mbewe in using their skills and talent to preserve and promote culture and national unity.
Equally grief-stricken was National Theatre Association of Malawi president Eric Mabedi who described Mbewe’s death as a loss not only to him, but the nation at large.
“It is a big blow, but we stand to celebrate his life for he was an extraordinary man. He was talented, an adviser and a visionary colleague. He will be greatly missed,” said the Kwathu Drama Group star.
Umodzi Drama Group founder Peter Kunje said Mbewe’s demise is one of the biggest shockers faced by the local drama fraternity.
He described the deceased as a dramatist who was natural and realistic in his acting and humour.
“To him, acting was an inborn trait. He lived a fruitful life,” said the veteran who retired from stage drama to serve as a priest for the Orthodox Church in Malawi.
Born on October 10 1934, the late Mbewe joined MBC at the dawn of independence in 1964.
He served as a producer of several radio plays, including Pamajiga and Sewero la Sabata Ino.
The late Mbewe retired from MBC in the late 1990s.
He is survived by nine children, 36 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren. n