The year 2020 will go down in history as one of the most difficult year world over.
This was due to the global coronavirus pandemic that brought the whole world to its knees. But as this was going on, other illness and tragedies claimed lives of the world’s entertainers.
Malawi was not spared. It was in 2020 that the country bade farewell to some of its brightest stars.
What started as a normal day on August 1 2020, turned gloomy when one of the country’s talented stage and screen actors Evans Mbewe died. Known mostly for his acting prowess in the popular Kwathu Drama Group, Mbewe died after a long illness.
In an interview shortly after the news of his death broke, Kwathu Drama Group leader Eric Mabedi said the group was saddened by Mbewe’s death.
Mabedi said the late Mbewe joined Kwathu in 1989 when the group had the cream of talent such as Christopher Chiwalo, Jack Phiri, Esther Jekete and Charles Mphoka, among others.
“So, for him to have found a spot in Kwathu at that time showed that he was very unique,” he said.
Known as Che Jali on stage and in Tikuferanji radio and television drama series, the late Mbewe succumbed to diabetes. He was born on September 14 1969.
He was laid to rest at his home in Molere, Thyolo.
Another big blow hit the sector when renowned radio drama actor and producer Elson Soko died on August 15 2020.
Soko had succumbed to heart complications at Blantyre Advenstist Hospital.
He was popularly known as Anyoni, a character he played for over 40 years at Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) Pamajiga programme and Sewero La Sabata Ino.
During his funeral, Minister of Information Gospel Kazako descdtibed Anyoni’s death as a huge loss to the creative industry.
Then on December 2 2020 he country lost one of its most gifted singers, George Mkandawire.
Known for beloved songs such as Nkhampenjanga, Thanthwe, Ulendo. Khululukireni, Mkandawire was one of the country’s rare talents both in composing songs and vocals.
Jazz artist Erik Paliani, whose association with the fallen star dates back to their days at Phwezi Secondary School in Rumphi, in his tribute painted a picture of how he and other schoolmates wooed Mkandawire into music.
He said: “One day I heard the most beautiful voice singing coming from the shower room. I followed it. It was the great George Mkandawire. I could not believe our blessings. I forced him to join our group. He added class. I am yet to hear anyone sing like George.”
Lucius Banda collaborated with Mkandawire on his song Anafera Iye and he said: “He was very talented. We have lost a unique and powerful voice.”
Mkandawire, who came from Nkombezi in Rumphi district, was born in 1974.
He was buried at HHI Cemetery.
Towards the end of the year, death struck the arts industry again. Talented drummer Seleman Yusufu of the Fikisa musical group died on December 14.
Fikisa’s group leader Jeffrey Thom told The Nation that the late Yusufu died due to back complications. He was buried in Bangwe, Blantyre.
The Fikisa outfit became a sensation with the self titled album in 2012 which was later voted Album of the Year on BBC Africa.
May their souls rest in peace.