An ode to Tenthani: Malawi newsman extraordinaire

Could this be? Could this really be true? The death of Raphael Kinn Tenthani, a respected Malawian journalist, has been received with much sadness within the media profession and the Malawian nation at large.

Tenthani: Fare thee well mate

Tenthani: Fare thee well mate

To those of us who revered him, and we are many, we like to think of him as the amazing mixture of writer, journalist, activist, and unique character.

I have known Tenthani for a long time. When I was cutting my first teeth in the media profession., he inspired me and I had followed his footsteps – coincidentally we shared the same date of birth 1 October.

In the late 90’s I worked with Tenthani at The Enquirer newspaper, a national weekly [now defunt] which many would remember it with its motto popularised by publisher Lucius Chikuni radio adverts: “Doing the digging for you”.

Tenthani had been working for the flagship daily The Nation. But after we had lost veteran journalists at The Enquirer in the likes of Willie Zingani, Peter Chirwa and Anderson Fumulani their new opportunities, I was the next to take charge. It was too early to lead from the front and I asked management to hire an experienced scribe whom I would understudy.

I was given the choice to scout who the company could hire to groom me for the post of an editor. I suggested the name of Ralph Tenthani. He was engaged by management and accepted to join the weekly from the daily.

He did a lot to mentor me and eventually I took over as editor of The Enquirer. Though he left for his international stringing job, he kept in touch and mentoring me. Of course I should also pay tribute to media trainers Edward Chitsulo and Tito Banda – both who passed away – for sharpening my media skills.Loose cannon

Tenthani with his ‘Muckraking’ column in The Sunday Times which also appeared on Nyasa Times, had the the courage to speak in a silenced land and braved all the insults that comes with being a watchdog. Many of his detractors dwelled on his style and not the substance. He never relented.

This year Tenthani encouraged me to have my own column on Nyasa Times. I indeed followed his advice and introduced this platform – ‘The Loose Cannon.’

In my recent telephone chat with him, Tenthani asked me: “When are you coming back to Malawi?”

I answered him: “I will not say the exact date but I will come back like a thief, Jesus style.”

He then said: “Are you scared of being Chasowad [in apparent reference to university student activist Robert Chasowa who was murdered by regime thugs].”

I insisted that my coming to Malawi will be without sirens.

He laughed and said “sirens or no sirens, if they want to hit on you, they can organise an accident.”

It was an informal chat and I guess he was referring to my “haters”.

Death, evil death, Tenthani had haters for his journalism work. And that he has been killed in a car crash is saddening .

I would like to believe it was just a normal ‘Kamwamba accident’ and not like that of Thambani – where four cabinet ministers were killed during the one party dictatorship disguised as an accident.

We will miss Muckraking on Sunday; we will miss Tenthani’s well written news stories. We will miss his brevity. He was fearless in the pursuit of truth and any cause in which he believed.

He was everything a great journalist should be. There won’t be another Raphael Tenthani, though.

Goodbye, my beloved friend. A great voice falls silent. A great heart stops.

You will be sorely missed.

It’s sad when someone you know becomes someone you knew.” –Henry Rollins

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32 thoughts on “An ode to Tenthani: Malawi newsman extraordinaire”

  1. Nivindele says:


  2. Those who don’t believe that it was a car accident that took the life of our beloved Ralph T should not hesitate to ask his children @ Queens Hosp coz they were together & they r the 1s who can give first hand info abt the incident. Speculations wont help. He was not a threat to this govnt. He was just doing his job. R.I.P.

  3. true says:

    Ndimomwe alili anthuwa ukawatsutsa walakwa.imfa itagwa kundata sanaphunzilepo kanthu ayambaso .koma amawona Ambuye.

  4. Blunt Truth says:

    I pay tribute ito Ralph. He was of a special kind. I am sure there are some journalists who will pay the the greatest respect to Tenthani by starting to expose what the DPP govt wants to hide as Tenthani was doing

  5. zakusimba says:

    A Malawi chonde. Why always thinking negative. He will be missed of cause but let us not come to conclusion. RIP

  6. Biyisikolo says:

    In Africa we don’t have a natural death. Any untimely death especially through accidents is the surely the perfect of the enemies. Look Nankhumwa says Bingu who surely died of heart arrest was the work of JB. What more Raph who ridiculed our gogo number one for taking too much for his throat problem may be directly involved as he is a well known Satanist. Very bad for me I loved how looked at issues different from Lomwelised journalists.

  7. informatix says:

    Gone too sun

  8. Bekeshu says:

    He was lame. He had one big eye which could see only negatives of government. Rest in peace mr politician.

  9. Quiet Corner says:

    While I mourn for one of the greatest writers in Malawi, I wish to request writers and other commentators to tell us readers exactly what happened. Its unfortunate that efforts are being made to make Malawians believe there is a certain hand responsible for Ralphs death. Tell us exactly what happened before we start speculating. Find out,please

  10. Baba wa Boyi says:

    You need an investigation Kuti wanmwalila bwanji?

    Why an investigation?

    Since when did the bible say ” You will know the day and the hour that you will die”

    If the man was in an accident, he is not the first and will not be the last. besides he liked his drink, Drinking and driving kills.

    Spare us the shit about he was killed, yes he was killed in an accident.

  11. Chimwerekumunda says:

    May the soul of this gallant scribe rest in peace.May I advise chefourpence to go back to school and improve his reading comprehension skills,If he understood English v.well,he should have realised that none is saying that Tenthani has been “accidentalised”but that pole are simply expressing their genuine sadness lover his untimely passing.Don’t bring in in politics,he was not a politician

  12. Peter Mthiburo says:

    Ralph’s death is too painful. May the love of our loving father in heaven envelop all those that are bereaved.

  13. Lowinzie Sibande says:

    Dust to dust and ashes to ashes. He giveth and he himself taketh our loved ones. Yes, death is mystery and so is its creator, GOD. May the ‘pure’ souls of all the departed ones rest in peace.

  14. patrick banda says:



    A tragic story.
    Arguably the most talented Malawian journalist of his generation. He leaves behind a huge gap which will be difficult to fill.
    Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this most trying moment.
    May his soul rest in eternal peace.

  16. Rest in peace Mr Tenthani. Malawi has lost a great son. May the good Lord be with your family.

  17. Malawians! Malawians! Always suspicious of everything why my beloved countrymen? Death is real, yesterday we were burrying Eight Prison Officers here in Swellendam RSA, died in a horrific accident, only one lady who was also sitting in front of the Mini Bus survived but the rest perished. So accidents happen. Do you think one can accept to have blood in his hands simply cos one is writing muckraking???? I don’t think so. May his soul rest in peace.

  18. muropwana says:

    He was a good politician. A genuine silent leader of opposition. MHSRIEP.

  19. hon says:

    Lets hope its normal accident. Rest in peace

  20. Mafikizolo says:

    A fearless and “relevant” scribe gone too soon . My heart grieves for him . “Je Suis Tenthani” .

  21. sniper says:

    unless we go to war in this country amalawi stizachangamuka we have been robbed here…..i tel u ds gvt z full of criminals…

  22. mike says:

    Anthu oseta nkhalamba kulemba mosaganiza

  23. chindere says:

    A befitting tribute Thom.Ralph was our hero who even took a silent non paying job of our leader of opposition

  24. chefourpence says:

    Give us the details of the accident before feeding us these conspirancy theories about Ralph being killed! Killed by whom? For what reason? Was he declared ‘immortal’? Why is it ‘nonsense’ when Nankhumwa claims Bingu was killed and ‘sensible’ for you self styled democrats to claim that Tenthani was killed? We all loved him, of course some hated him and its natural, but spare us the baloney!

  25. George says:

    May his soul rest in eternal peace we shall miss his muckraking stories indeed

  26. bongozozo says:

    Mwalira Chiumia. Mwafwa tafwa. Very few people will not miss Raphael. And these are the thugs we all already know. If this was truly organised then those involved must surely know that their day is also coming. If we catch them then we will send them to Singapore where justice will be executed. They must suffer the worst. If it is a natural accident then I say..mysrip. Sunday times have surely lost a customer in me. To me muckraking was more than I could pay for the whole Sunday times paper.

  27. mfumusinyasa says:

    No worse news than this one. Nde mu sunday times times tidziwerenga chani?

  28. Isaac says:

    May the soul of Raphael Rest In Eternal Peace.

  29. Khwethemu says:

    Rest in peace Raphael. Komano we need an investigation kuti wamwalira bwanji? Ngozi imeneyi ili suspicious, ikhoza kukhala ntchito zoyipa za chipani cholamula,. Tiwuzeni zoona.

  30. ine says:

    Ooo no!!!!! fare well the raph u were one of the greatest may u peacefully rest

  31. ineyo says:


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