A cross section of Malawians are calling for an investigation into the car crash that killed prominent journalist Raphael Tenthani, but Malawians are being urged not to jump to conclusions about the cause.
Speculations that the crash that killed Tenthani was not an accident were inevitable given the history of political murders in the country for fierce critics.
Tenthani, 44, and author of Muckraking column in the Sunday Times, died after the car his relative Brother Joe was driving, overturned near Kamwamba in Ntcheu on Saturday evening.
His two sons -Raymond and Raphael-sustained injuries and were admitted at Queens Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, while Joe and Amos Phiri, his pal, also survived.
They were returning from visiting Tenthani’s mother in Ntcheu.
Tenthani’s younger brother Kizito Tenthani of Centre for Multiparty Democracy said they cannot talk of foul play “until it has been proved what has really transpired.”
The family called for an investigation.
Tenthani’s death comes only two months after Malawi lost another top journalist Edward Chitsulo. It is also coming at a time when Malawi needs more critical journalists like him.
He was Malawi correspondent for the BBC, Associated Press, Pana and Nyasa Times.
His ‘Muckraking’ column which was published in The Sunday Times, Nyasa Times and other online outlets, was most influential and popular.
Meanwhile, tributes for Tenthani are pouring in.
State Vice President Saulos Klaus Chilima said through his spokesman Pilirani Phiri: “This is not only a great loss to his family and the media fraternity but also to the entire nation.”
Chilima said Tenthani was a “great journalist, activist, and columnist who wrote with style, pace and [precision.”
Former Malawi president Bakili Muluzi described Tenthani’s death as “terrible loss” to the nation.
“Malawi has lost one of the most respected and influential journalist. I will miss his Muckraking column, may his soul rest in peace,” said Muluzi.
Tenthani’s colleague Felix Mponda of AFP, said he was “in a class of his own and I will miss both his column and journalism work.”
Facebook was awash in tributes to Tenthani.
Economist Association of Malawi president Henry Kachaje wrote: “Many times I hear of death, and I tell myself, ‘it was written that one day we will all die’, and I am reminded that I will not be here forever hence I need to do all the good I have the potential to do while I still have my breath. But the death of my great hero in writing, Raphael Kinn L. Tenthani, has shocked me to the bones. Every Sunday, I wake up looking forward to buy the Sunday Times just because of his column. I was actually honoured to have had my own column placed side by side with his.”
Kachaje said Malawi has lost extremely rare jewellery”, saying Tenthani was an “objective” journalist who loved this country and wished it well.
“I can say without any fear that the President of Malawi, has lost probably the most objective and fearless advisor in Mr Tenthani. He was a true patriotic, a genuine Malawian who believed in a better Malawi,” wrote Kachaje.
Award winning columnist and editor for Times Group, Graciun Tukula wrote: “I won’t even attempt to say anything. Raphael Kinn L. Tenthani. I simply can’t.”
Presidential advisor on communication and strategy, Bright Malopa posted: “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. You leave behind , a society Muckraked by your death. RIP Ralph Raphael Kinn L. Tenthani.”
Journalist and cartoonist Deguzman Kaminjolo wrote: “ “Death of a friend, hero and mentor. …First time I knew Raphael Kinn L. Tenthani was in ’93 at the Independent newspaper. He had spiked my cartoon because I had done a sketch of a soldier with a beard ‘Unless in combat, a beard for a soldier is a punishable indiscipline’ he said. I was young and struggling to break through. So much I owe to Ralph Tenthani, from our days at the Independent, Sunday Times, International jobs, and also when he privileged me to be part of a milestone book project for a then head of state.”
Human rights activist Billy Mayaya called Tenthani’s death as “ the most devastating news.”
Media manager Charles Simango wrote: “Raphael Tenthani on my mind. Just don’t know what to say.”
Tenthani will be buried at his Sharpe Valley village in Ntcheu on Monday, according to his brother Kizito.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :