Art lovers, the taste of the pudding is in the eating.
Although it seems loud and clear that Malawian writing can no longer stand the test, Malawi Writers Union (Mawu) president Sambalikagwa Mvona harbours the frightening feeling that the signs of the times are “sweeping statements originating from general observations”.
Just like that, Mvona is doing the treasured art injustice by allowing self-denial to blind him from the writing on the wall—the cries for sanity.
Reading the trickles of [un]creative local writings, including Mvona’s Arrow from Malaka and other novels published by Mawu, it is baffling that laziness and cluelessness is now mistaken for creativity.
Plainly, Mawu’s brainchildren confirm that Malawian pens are blunter than rusty swords; they are overrated, churning out frail and dull scrawls on their way to the grave.
What is more disconcerting is that Mr Mvona is refusing to see the rot piling at his doorstep.
This is no new bulk, but the same patchiness that an increasing number of the ‘esteemed judges’ Mawu engages to oversee its questionable awards refuse to condone when they condemn entries as below standard.
The verdict may sound like a perfect example of flawed reasoning, a generalisation, but the real tragedy with Mvona’s self-defence is that the ears that ought to hear the wake-up call don’t seem to hear anything.
Malawians should be worried, very worried, because the clogged ears are part of a greater system that has been mistaking literary awards for hand-outs lately.
Sadly, this is breaking news for Mvona: There is no justification whatsoever for Mawu [if it is a credible association] to continue distributing the so-called awards of excellence when judges proclaim the entries undeserving as they did during 2013 Peer Gynt and 2013 FMB/Mawu Short Story Awards.
Explaining how these awards of mediocrity benefit the literary industry is not as easy as showing why Mvona’s refutation is a revealing vote of no confidence to the ‘credible and experienced’ brains Mawu appoints to sit on its panels.
It could be one more symptom of the deepening mess crippling the literary industry.
How many messengers will Mvona shoot before he heads the message?