For a long time, book writing in the country has been dominated by men.
The trend has been worrisome because in other African countries such as Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya have had women writing books that have won the hearts of people globally.
However, the story is changing in Malawi following the rise in the number of female writers who are geared towards telling local stories through books.
Vera Kamtukule, a resident of Lilongwe, is one of the women who have consistently made strides to publish books that tackle several contemporary issues over the past two years.
She says her desire to write books was inspired by stories connected to the struggle she observed and underwent during her upbringing.
“Growing up in Zingwangwa Township in Blantyre, I witnessed the real side of ghetto life that was full of unimaginable struggles, and to make matters worse, I saw my parents getting divorced when my siblings and I were young.
“The situation made me want to express myself about my daily experiences thoughtfully. Therefore, it is in the pen that I find solace as I ably document my life experiences freely on paper,” says Kamtukule.
The book writer, who is a graduate of Chancellor College, a contituent college of the University of Malawi, also holds a masters’ degree from the University of Derby. She says despite being passionate about writing since childhood, she became a book writer faster than expected because an opportunity availed itself.
Explains Kamtukule: “A German Publisher, Lambert Academic Publishing, upon getting hold of my masters’ degree thesis, was impressed with the work and sought for the permission to publish it as a book titled The Supply and Demand of Housing in Malawi.
“I could not resist the offer that came too quickly in life than expected for it was a dream come true for a girl that had written so many stories in the ghetto which never saw the public light.”
Following the publication of her first book, she has since published over five books, including Made to Bloom, Absalomic Loss, Professional Women, 29 Things that Destroy Good Men and her recent release 41 Things that Destroy Good Men.
Kamtukule claims that her books go beyond knitting words and making expressions because the main goal is to bring mindset change and transformation of the soul.
“If you read my books, you will not just appreciate use of language. You will realise that my books are there to inspire my generation to unleash the potential inside them, build strong relationships with family and friends, and to think and act differently,” she states.
Kamtukule says there is need to tell Malawian stories in books as that is thebest way to preserve and encourage the reading culture in the country.
She says: “Malawi has a wide range of stories which have to be told. These are stories that suit our environment and our people can easily relate with.
“Reading stories you relate with and are within your context is extremely persuasive. It makes people read more as they feel the stories talk directly to them.”
Aside changing people’s mindset through books, Kamtukule, who is also Malawi Scotland Partnership chief executive officer, is also on a mission to nurture and inspire budding writers in secondary school through an initiative she launched towards the end of 2019 called Bloomers Club.
“Exposure to literature is key towards achieving academic success; that is the reason I launched the Bloomers Club last November in order to inspire and motivate the students in secondary schools across the country to read and write.
“So far, the club is at Kaghemo, Chikwawa, Ludzi Girls, and Zingwangwa Secondary School. After the coronavirus pandemic, I plan to launch it in many other schools because I want to reach out to as many youths as possible,” adds the mother of two girls.
Lilongwe-based poet and writer Emmanuel Chikuse commends kamtukule for her writings which contextualise issues people face daily.
However, he says the writer should avoid localising her topics too much.
“It is good to see women like Vera writing stories that tackle real-life situations which Malawians face. This is the content which local readers easily understand, but the stories should not be too localised as this will be a barrier for the international audience,” Chikuse says.
Blogger Samuel Malasa Banda agrees with Chikuse on the need for more women to write and publish books as this will signify growth of the industry.
“Writing books is no mean fit, and seeing women doing so is commendable and it will be interesting to see more of our women writing books in the near future,” he says.