Despite old age, a retired professor of English and author Felix Mnthali has vowed to continue writing as long as his muse keeps inspiring him.
Mnthali, 84, has returned on the literary scene with a memoir A Time To Remember which is now available on Amazon.com.
The book chronicles Mnthali’s life as a poet, writer and academic to reflect Malawi’s history from colonialism, State of Emergency, Cabinet Crisis to the present democratic dispensation.
The memoir also talks about his 1976 four-month detention at Zomba Maximum Prison, during the rule of then president Kamuzu Banda, for belonging to a particular ethnic group.
In an interview, Mnthali said his writing career spanning many decades is yet to be over. He said he plans of publishing two novels and two plays as well. One of the novels is called Dawn At Last and the other Sanganani’s Wake. One of the plays is called Bwana! Bwana! The other is The Year Of The Drought.
He said: “I am still writing. Some days are better than others. There are days when ideas and stories keep knocking on my door and there are days when I feel that my writing career is over and that in fact it has been over for a long long time.
Then suddenly there comes this burst of inspiration demanding attention.”
After his release from prison, Mnthali left the country, Chancellor College in particular, for universities in Nigeria and Botswana as a lecturer in literature.
Such issues of ethnicity, said Mnthali, have stunted the growth and development of university education in Malawi, adding that the “sooner and more vigorously ethnicity is uprooted from all our blue-prints for change the better”.
“Ethnicity must never be allowed to rear its ugly head the way it very nearly destroyed Unima in the 1970s when innocent academics were detained and lost their jobs. Literature was thriving and might have reached dizzy heights were it not for the eyes and ears of the State who in our First Republic were invariably unleashed against those deemed to be outside the umbrella of the then dominant tribe or group of tribes,” he said.
Mnthali said ethnicity is the bane of all post-colonial aspirations. He said it destroys national unity and brings untold pain on “our children and children’s children”.
“Ethnicity was used by Hitler to murder millions of Jews. It is being used today to deny Palestinians their human rights and deprive them of their lands and their inheritance.
“Nearer here it was ethnicity which brought about the Rwandan genocide. Ethnicity is the cradle of corruption,” he said. n