Malawi’s entertainment industry was Sunday afternoon dealt a severe blow following the death of drama icon John Nyanga aka Izeki, who died at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) in Blantyre.
His death comes three days after the death of another drama legend and tutor Chris Kamlongera in Lilongwe.
Nyanga’s long-time friend, Eric Mabedi aka Jacobo, with whom he had collaborated in Izeki Ndi Jakobo skit and Kwathu Drama Group, confirmed the death of his colleague.
“John is gone. He died some minutes ago and we are escorting his body to mortuary as I speaking to you,” a mournful Mabedi told The Nation around 3pm on Sunday.
He said details of the funeral programme will be communicated in due course.
Nyanga was readmitted to QECH two weeks ago as a result of anaemia, eight months after he was initially admitted to the hospital.
Previously, he had been diagnosed with meningitis and tuberculosis before succumbing to anaemia.
Mabedi said Nyanga was one of the founding members of Kwathu Drama Group, which was established in 1980 by the late Charles Severe, Augustine Mawuwa, Esther Jekete and Mickson Howa and Charles Mphoka.
“John has been instrumental in Kwathu Drama Group and our duo of Izeki ndi Jakobo. Thus, his death is a big blow not only to us but the entire theatre industry,” he said.
Mphoka, another long serving member of Kwathu Drama Group, said Izeki is irreplaceable.
Meanwhile, artists, as well as fans from different sectors of life, have poured their tributes to the fallen thespian, who has been involved in entertainment Malawi for over three decades.
Poet Gospel Kazako, who is also the managing director and proprietor of Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS), said Malawi has lost an icon who was passionate and dedicated to his trade.
“It is sad that we have lost John Nyanga. I was privileged to work with him while at Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) and he was a kind a person who loved what he was doing. We will greatly miss him,” said Kazako.
Writer Stanley Onjezani Kenani said, although he never interacted with Nyanga on a personal level, it feels as though he has lost someone he has known for a long part of his life.
“For the last three decades, John Nyanga entertained us in our homes through his voice as his character, Izeki, featured in various sketches on MBC, Joy Radio and other radios, and also on stage, through the Kwathu Drama Group and also through his own ensemble, Alufeyo Performing Arts. John Nyanga was a trailblazer on the local comedy scene. He is gone, but his jokes remain immortal,” said Kenani.
Stand-up comedian Mr Jokes described Nyanga as a founding father who inspired several comedians in the country.
“We cannot talk about comedy in Malawi without referring to Izeki ndi Jakobo. Apart from entertaining us, this duo inspired many of us. And the death of Izeki is a big blow,” said Mr Jokes.
Until his death, Nyanga was known as Prophet Z and was running a prophetic ministry called Synagogue For Hope Church in Ndirande, Blantyre.
In his last interview with our sister newspaper Weekend Nation in March, Nyanga shared lessons of his over 30 years of drama, saying he had learnt to view things from a perspective of both God and humanity.
He was quoted as having said: “When we attain fame, money or good life, it is important to remember what we are, where we are coming from and going. And most importantly who is in charge of our lives.”
After dedicating himself to the noble work of entertaining the nation and shaping people’s opinions and behaviour for three decades, he took a bow from drama to concentrate on his new task—prophetic ministry.
However, Nyanga admitted that life was not easy since he started suffering last year.
He told the Weekend Nation: “My brother, God is good all the time and He has spared my life purposely. There was time when people and the social media would kill me when I was alive. But the truth of the matter is that God has been on my side. I have once been diagnosed with big diseases such as meningitis and tuberculosis. But look I am alive today because of His glory.”
When he was discharged from QECH, he appealed for support because he was struggling to cope up with life, solely relying help from well-wishers and Mabedi, who had always been there for him until his last breath.
Nyanga started drama in 1980s and met Mabedi around same time. But Izeki ndi Jakobo were born in the 1990s through a mid-week radio magazine on MBC Radio 1.
Nyanga was born on June 13 1963 and he came from Nyangayathyoka Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Mabuka in Mulanje. n