This year’s race for the Malawi Writers Union (Mawu) presidency promises to be thrilling encounter following the nomination of activist Billy Mayaya, who is set to challenge long-serving president Mike Sambalikangwa Mvona.
Both Mayaya and Mvona confirmed their face-off during Mawu’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) slated tomorrow in Liwonde, Machinga.
While Mayaya says it is high time for Mvona to relinquish the mantle to other competent leaders, a defiant Mvona says he is afraid of leaving Mawu in the wrong hands.
“It’s not a question of clinging to power, but I am afraid to leave Mawu to people who will destroy it. We have built Mawu to be where it is; hence, I cannot accept someone to aid it to collapse this time around,” challenged Mvona in an interview yesterday.
But Mayaya feels Mvona should pack and go, saying Mawu needs fresh ideas that will drive the organisation forward.
“I believe I can contribute to the future of Mawu, a group which I am a proud founding member,” said Mayaya in an email interview yesterday.
He said the likes of Legson Kayira, James Ng’ombe, Edison Mpina, Tiyambe Zeleza, Steve Chimombo, Zondiwe Mbano and numerous others forged a path for all of writers in the country to follow.
Therefore, there is a need to build on this great foundation by focusing on developing new talent particularly in schools, publishing more anthologies to showcase new talent and make more inroads in resource mobilisation and linkages with potential partners.
“The current executive has certainly set the pace. There is need to build on it,” said Mayaya.
Mvona, who has been at the helm of Mawu since 1999, bragged about having hands-on experience to drive the organisation.
“I have inspired several writers in Malawi and across borders during my leadership. So, I am certainly going to retain Mawu Presidency,” said Mvona, adding that he is an accomplished writer who is well-versed with trends in the writing world.
Asked about his leadership qualities and experience, Mayaya said he understands the trade of writing well; hence, it will be easy for him to develop the industry.
“Writing is not new to me. I was a member of the Lilongwe Writers Group in the late 1980s which comprised of luminaries in Malawi creative writing. These included Frank Kamwendo, Steve Chimombo, Dede Kamkondo, Mike Nambote, Zangaphee Chizeze, Mike Sambalikangwa Mvona, Edison Mpina and Austin Mbvundula,” said Mayaya.
He added that he has contributed to poetry to Wasi and Quest magazines as well as online journals.
Said Mayaya: “I have also attended international workshops on creative writing. I contribute articles to both dailies in Malawi as well as to the Lamp magazine. I have tonnes of unpublished poetry.”n