Malawi President Peter Mutharika, vice president Saulos Chilima, human rights campaigners and media practitioners led tributes to the late Nation Publications Limited (NPL) managing editor Edward Chitsulo who died in the early hours of Sunday after a short illness.
Chitsulo, one of the most refined and accomplished journalists and media trainer, died at Blantyre Adventist Hospital at the age of 56 and will be buried on Tuesday in Chiradzulu his home.
Tributes continue to pour in for Chitsulo with President Mutharika saying he learnt with deep shock the untimely death of “a journalist par excellence.”
“As an editor, he helped in the development of Malawi by sensitising our people regarding their rights and responsibilities,” Mutharika said in the statement.
The Vice President, currently in Singapore, says he is deeply shocked with the death of Chitsulo.
Chilima through his press officer Pilirani Phiri says Chitsulo was “a well of knowledge for the media and a humble person.”
Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Centre for Development of People (Cedep) in a joint statement issued on Sunday and signed by Timothy Mtambo and Gift Trapence, said Chitsulo also paid tribute.
They said Chitsuli contributed to the consolidation of hard-earned democracy in Malawi especially through his popular democratic governance-cantered weekly column “The Raw Stuff” which accorded him the platform to respond, comment and provide policy alternatives or options to emerging governance, human rights issues affecting the nation.
“For instance, when government decided to no longer advertise with Nation Publications Limited following its perception that NPL was being too critical of the then government. However, this did not move NPL editorial team, led by Edward Chitsulo, to compromise on its editorial policy. Nation Publications Limited remained professional and independent in its coverage of news throughout the storm to-date in the process winning several media accolades attesting to its high professionalism and confidence Malawians have in it. ”
CHRR and Cedep stated that they shall live to remember Chitsulo as a “great, selfless uncompromising professional worth emulating”
Nation Publications CEO Mbumba Banda took to Facebook writing: “What he sowed in others will live on. We have lost a great journalist, a pillar of our industry. I will fondly remember him and will miss him. He was a good man, a gentleman. RIP Edward Chitsulo.”
United Democratic Front (UDF) spokesman Ken Ndanga, a journalist by training, said Chitsulo’s death is a “devastating blow” to the media fraternity.
“He was such a rare breed of a journalist who craftily weaved humour and objectivity to produce articles that made readers ask for some more. In one of my memorable articles he literally suggested that former president Dr.Bakili Muluzi uses juju from his home village, Kapoloma to attract huge audiences in his rallies. This is how raw Chitsulo was in his column ‘Raw Stuff’.
“Chitsulo told me that after the article was published, Atcheya [Bakili Muluzi] called him on the phone and it was all laughter. This is how Chitsulo was able to use his intellect and pen to even make prominent news makers laugh. Such articles would rarely make politicians laugh,” Ndanga stated in his tribute.
The Malawi Editors Forum (Maef) said Chitsulo’s death is a “huge blow” to the media fraternity in general and to the forum in particular.
“Apart from mourning his death, therefore, MAEF would like to celebrate Mr Chitsulo’s illustrious life and cherich immeasurable contribution to the groth of the country’s media industry, most notably from the time the country transmitted from single party rule to multiparty democracy right through the nurturing of the democratic dispensation,” a statement by MAEF chair Edyth Kambalame and secretary Graciun Tukula said.
Journalist Peter Makossah said Chitsulo was “one of the most remarkable and colourful personalities” in the history of Malawi media. “This legacy is a permanent tribute to him.”
Other touching tributes
Limbani Cliff Matola wrote: “Edward Chitsulo was indeed a great journalist. A spring of humility. He was a hallmark of simplicity and level headedness. He penned objectivity always reflecting the interests of the common man. Heaven has surely gained.”
Benson Nkhoma Somba posted: “A journalist that always had the media interest at heart! He had a huge heart to accommodate many. Rest well. Indeed the eagle has landed….”
Albert Lobengula Banda stated: “A good journalist must have a nose for business just the same way a business executive has nose for business. In places where people see obstacles and challenges a good journalist sees a lot of opportunities for both news and business. This is a journalist I will always remember in late Edward Chitsulo. “
Chitsulo Fact file- NPL
- Chitsulo, born April 19 1956, graduated from Chancellor College and joined the Civil Service as a secondary school teacher.
- He taught between 1982 and 1985 before joining Blantyre Newspapers Limited (BNL) as a news reporter where he rose through the ranks to the position of editor of the Daily Times.
- He co-established the defunct Michiru Sun newspaper in 1992 with Grey Mang’anda.
- Chitsulo worked for Malawi Institute of Journalism (MIJ) as senior course manager between 1995 and 1998
- He also worked as lecturer in language and communication studies at the Malawi Polytechnic between 1998 and 2003, before he moved to take the Public Relations post at Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) until 2004.
- He joined NPL in 2004 as Associate Editor and rose to the position of managing editor until his death.