For the past 10 years, MIJ’s day break programme, Good Morning Malawi, has received enormous listenership.
One of the reasons for the growing clientele is the radio’s popular satire programme Bwande.
Bwande, the programme’s protagonist, writes letters to his brother Dodolido, who is based in United Kingdom, updating him on the current issues in the country. Listeners are familiar with Bwande’s deep voice, but who is the man behind the character?
With just mental impression’s of this mysterious man, Society’s team walked in at MIJ FM with the expectations of meeting a scruffy man, only to be proven wrong.
There he was, a well built man in decent official wear with a smile on his face. He introduced himself as Deus Sandram. He then led us to his office where he narrates about where it all began.
Born to a police officer father and a mother who was a house wife, Sandram has lived in almost every district in the country where he experienced a variety of cultures.
Due to his father’s frequent transfers, Sandram attended numerous primary and secondary schools.
“But throughout my life, I have nursed a passion for writing,” says Sandram of his childhood days.
In a bid to follow his passion, he enrolled at Malawi Institute of Journalism (MIJ) to study for a Diploma in Journalism and graduated in 2004.
“When I started the programme, all I wanted was to work in a newspaper because I enjoyed writing,” he explains.
He later began writing a column, which he hoped would find space in one of the country’s newspapers.
But opportunity met preparation when there was an opening for a presenter for MIJ’s Good Morning Malawi programme while he was still studying.
When he was hired, Sandram sold Bwande’s idea to the late Evans Masamba who was station manager then.
“He [Masamba] told me to produce three samples, which I did and as soon as he listened to the first one he had already made up his mind and was impressed, so he told me to go ahead with the idea,” recounts Sandram.
The creative genius says besides broadcasting, he has a long time passion for theatre such that in his “active days,” he used to write plays and that is how some of the characters in O Bwande programme were born.
“Bwande is recurrent in most of the plays that I have written in the past and so is Dodolido, but as for Berita, she is an actual person; so is Kafadala,” says Sandram.
Sandram says he enjoys village life as compared to “the cosmetic and demanding town life; hence Bwande is inspired by the character of an indigenous Malawian whose understanding of current issues is not as sharp, although he likes to comment and speaks his mind on such matters.
“There are a lot of Bwandes in real life; board a minibus and listen to what people are saying about politics; look around and see,” said the Bwande creator.
Sandram says for the past decade, he has been dealing with threats, some of them very serious.
“My house has been broken into and there was a particular time when thugs just shot at my car at home, they did not even steal anything,” explains Sandram.
But he says despite the life-threatening attacks and threats, he keeps moving forward as he likes expressing his mind.
Sandram says through the programme he has made friends and enemies depending on how people interpret its content and how they respond to criticism.
He says he is planning on releasing a CD which will contain Bwande’s 10 best letters.
The CD, which has been scheduled for release in July this year, will mark Bwande’s 10 years on the airwaves.
Sandram expressed gratitude to his fans for the unwavering support throughout the years.
“There was a time I thought the programme did not have a huge following, but I was proven wrong when I took a brief break. I was overwhelmed with phone calls demanding O Bwande back on air,” says Sandram.
Sandram, who is married to Elizabeth and has two children, says he is slowly walking out of journalism as he is studying for a correspondence Bachelor of Business Administration Degree at Madraf University in India.