This week, Deloitte, a leading audit and business advisory firm in Malawi and globally, announced a major appointment of Kondwani Msimuko as a partner at the firm.
This makes him one of six or so top most people at the firm that would be considered like ‘shareholders’ or ‘owners’ of the firm in Malawi.
I have known Kondwani very closely since 2001 when he was in Form Four at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Rumphi. At the time, I was a fifth and final year engineering student the Polytechnic, a constituent college of the University of Malawi (Unima).
Their mathematics teacher at the seminary had to be rushed to his home country Canada for medical attention. I went there during my long holiday as a ‘relief teacher’.
Kondwani was an intellectual pillar and jointly with Edwin Mulenga, currently working at the Reserve Bank of Malawi. The two were big gurus in maths—they never scored below 90 percent in my tests! The second big attribute about Kondwani was his resolve and determination.
Kondwani came to my office and asked if I could re-introduce additional mathematics. He had heard that five years back, I was in the first cohort that did additional maths under the coaching of venerable mathematician Bishop John Ryan who later rose to the rank of Professor of mathematics at Mzuzu University.
I told Kondwani that I would be happy to teach them additional maths, but I had two problems. First, that we would need to cover both Forms three and four syllabi in just under one year instead of two years. And, that I was only around for one term before I could go back to the Poly. Kondwani said that he and his three or so friends, including Edwin were ready to do a crash programme in additional maths.
We set out to do that and we completed all the Form Three additional maths syllabus plus most of first term Form Four stuff in under one term at the beginning of their Form Four. We even completed a full chapter in one period of 45 minutes. This was possible because Kondwani, Edwin and their friends were super charged, ultra-hard working, very focused and determined. As they always say, the rest is history, but the boys went on to cut out distinctions in additional maths!
Kondwani demonstrated resolve to me one day on the volleyball court. He was the team’s captain and I was their coach. We had a very crucial match against Phwezi Boys and the seminary had not beaten Phwezi for nearly five years. The winning team was to qualify for finals at regional level.
I played with the boys and one time I had a bad spell and made a few mistakes that made our team lose a few points. Kondwani and his vice Ambilike Mwaungulu conferred and Kondwani came to tell me ‘asambizgi pumulani dankha’ meaning ‘teacher, please have a rest’. I came back later and we won the game. Very few secondary school students would manage to do this and do it diplomatically.
Fast forward to 2002 when Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) results were out, Kondwani Msimuko and his academic peer Edwin scored very high points, probably ranking top 20 or maximum top 50 across the country.
However, after writing entrance examinations while Edwin was selected to Chancellor College, Kondwani’s name was missing. I had just enrolled for my PhD at Oxford University at the time and Kondwani called me from Malawi in tears and disbelief. He asked me to help check with Unima what had happened. Eventually, we were told that his scripts had gone missing and there was nothing Unima could do about his situation.
Kondwani was do devastated, but within a few days he resolved and told us all his close friends that he would go to Malawi College of Accountancy (MCA) to become a big accountant and prove Unima wrong. Kondwani has had a very illustrious and impactful, fast career and become a partner at Malawi’s leading audit firm at a very young age, well under 40.
What a feat! He even had a stint at their regional office in South Africa. His resolve and determination have proved Unima wrong. When they do you wrong, prove them wrong through resolve and determination, like Msimuko has done. Big congratulations Msimuko. I am proud to have taught you maths and additional maths!