The original Radio RSA Chichewa Service had Tony Machilika, Mike Mlongoti, Joe Dawe and Charles Ndau. They used to come on air at 7 CET. These guys were massive. During the dawn of multiparty democracy Radio RSA was a ‘must listen’.
Joe Dawe was the most serious of the quartet. All of them were unique in their own way. Tony, who went on to become GM of the English Service, used to do a ‘Zaanyamata’ show on Thursday. It was massive.
I liked Charles Ndau’s easy manners. He would say pretty much anything on air. He left me wondering, “Is it because his bosses can’t understand a thing he was saying?”
These guys helped make who Shyley Kondowe and Kamlepo Kalua and Unandi Banda what thry are today. They would be allowed to say anything about Kamuzu Banda. Shyley went on to found Malawi first credible NGO, MIDEA, Kamlepo ended up a bitter critic of pretty much any government that were until he sneaked into Parliament via Ama, Unandi is who you know him now.
Chihana also had a grand time with his haughty Chichewa on Radio RSA from 1992.
I think the first to retire was Mike Mlongoti or Joe Dawe. Was Mike Zambian? Is he the same guy who ended up in Cabinet or some government spokesman in Lusaka? Later these guys were joined by my friend Chaipa ‘Double Chai’ Hiwa, our own Chidzukulu cha Ajogwe and the songbird Maria Chidzanja-Nkhoma also joined. A Zambian, Mzondi wa a Sakala, also joined. I think Mzondi and Chaipa are still there at SABC, somewhere.
Some of us, who were aspiring to be print scribes, started admiring the radio because of the ease people like Charles Ndau made telling stories on air.
The Radio RSA times were times when listening to radio via shortwave an adventure.
Dead at 75, Charles Ndau lived a full fruitful life!
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