They came, spoke on the state of writings in Malawi and left their host with the task to preserve their rare musings. Now Mzuzu University (Mzuni) is set to publish an anthology which brings together works of Malawiâ€™s literary heavyweights.
The anthology will feature papers of Professor Jack Mapanje, Lupenga Mphande and other writers presented at the first International Conference on Malawian Literature in September.
In an interview, Mzuni lecturer in English Misheck Banda said 75 percent of the elite speakers have already submitted edited versions of their works in time for the publication of the anthology November late.
Apart from Mapanje and Mphande, the voices in the collection include Malawi Writers Union (Mawu) president Mike Sambalikagwa Mvona, Chancellor College literature lecturer Jessie Kabwila-Kapasula, overseas-based scholar Mpalive Msiska and critique Timwa Lipenga.
Â â€œCurrently, we are waiting for the remaining presenters to hand in their papers. We have given them November 15 as the due date for them to finalise their works because the book will be published by November 30,â€ said Banda.
Key among its contents, the upcoming book upholds literature as a powerful tool for exposing problems besetting the nation as well as signposting solutions to the prevailing woes both political and social.
In Mapanjeâ€™s keynote contribution and Mvonaâ€™s Cultural Identity in Malawian Literature, it emphasises the need to develop local literature because it represents and uplifts the Malawian way of living.
As food for thought, Kabwilaâ€™s feministic analysis of Lucius Bandaâ€™s hit single Zakukhosi and Shemu Joyaâ€™s award-winning film Seasons of a Life shows literary texts have the power and propensity to perpetuate old-fashioned gender ideologies which subject women to domestic chores while glorifying men as family heads.
In his entry, Texts and Contexts: Migrant Labour System, the Prodigal Son Motif in Malawi Oral Literature, Mphande delves deeper into the influence of oral literature as a channel through which women voice out their concerns.
Equally thought-provoking is Professor Mpaliveâ€™s Issues and tasks: Critical Practice on and/or for Malawian Literature.
According to Banda, the upcoming publication has been funded by the Norwegian government and will be printed at Montfort Media in Balaka.Â