The much talked about biography of fallen novelist Legson Kayira I will try is finally available in Malawi with new revelations.
According to former MBC director general Bright Malopa, who was instrumental in trying to put Kayira’s life on video just before his death, the new edition has been updated by Kayira’s wife, Julie.
“Updates include historic pictures and newspaper coverage as well as his meeting with Dr [Hastings Kamuzu] Banda while exiled by the same man. What happened? How did the meeting go?” posts Malopa on his Facebook page.
Malopa is still working on the biography having filmed most of it before Kayira’s death.
When Kayira was born in the 1940s, his young poverty-stricken mother, Ziya Nyakawonga, dumped him into the Didimu River and walked away. After being rescued and returned to his mother, he was named Didimu. Later, for want of an English-sounding name, he added Legson to his name, becoming Legson Didimu Kayira.
Kayira’s upbringing was a combination of simple adventure and an often depressing existence. He walked long distances to school, while his parents sold groundnuts to pay for his tuition.
With no access to opportunities for play and early stimulation, Kayira slept in a barn, tended his grandfather’s cattle and hunted for wild pigs with spears. Yet, despite facing the constraints common to most children in Africa, Kayira went on to defy all odds, ultimately turning himself into the epitome of resilience and courage. This is how Kayira’s extraordinary journey beyond his village began.
Imagine, a rural boy who completes his secondary school, and then decides, penniless and passportless, to attend college across the seas, in America, tens of thousands of kilometres away. But Kayira saw it as his way out of poverty. In the 11 years of attending school in Malawi, then Nyasaland, he had performed extremely well, reading every book he could find, especially those about America.
Inspired by Abraham Lincoln and Booker Washington, Kayira decided America was a place where one would go to get the freedom and independence one deserved. And so he literally set out on a journey to his perceived ‘land of the free,’ on foot. The date was October 14, 1958.
No one in the village, including his mother, knew where America was.
The book, released in December 2012, is available through Dr Chisale Mhango in Lilongwe (0993 446 672) at K10 000. The first copies were sold out and more should be in the country in a few weeks.
According to Malopa, official launch of the book will be at the Sandton Convention Centre in South Africa in March with representatives of all the countries that Kayira walked through, including Malawi.
The foreword to the edition, written by Phil Molefe, former Sabc CEO, talks of the lesson of resilience passed through the pages: “The lesson one gets after reading this book is simple, rather than wail in silence and uncertainty, be inspired to push towards your utmost.”
Molefe says:“Legson Kayira was a real living soul, who with the primal gift of his bare feet, walked his way on this earth into emancipated significance, that you and I might awaken our inner self too, into that place of inspired possibility.
“I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did, and that this legendary story touches your lives in a manner that inspires you to rise
and touch the lives of others.”