Malawi author, academic Legson Kayira buried in London

Malawian author Legson Kayira, who died last week, was hailed as a pioneer and a brave man during his burial at the West London Crematorium, Kensal Green in London on Tuesday afternoon.

Kayira is famed for his 1964 award-winning novel I Will Try in which he documents his adventure when he walked a distance of over 4,500 kilometres from his hometown of Karonga to Khatorum in Sudan in his quest for an American education.

At the time of his death, South Africa-based Rivonia Media Group where planning on a movie on Kayira’s life and the group’s general manager Angela Stewart-Buchanan and CEO Bright Malopa attended the London funeral.

Speaking during the funeral ceremony, which was attended by close friends and Legson’s wife Julie, his daughters Selena, Rosamund, Natasha and son David, his good friend Dr Malive Msiska remembered the author as a very special man who refused to let his circumstances determine his life.

Carrying the remains of Legson Kayira

“There were many young people in similar circumstances to Legson, from poor backgrounds and village situations but they didn’t end up in America. He did not accept that one had to live according to the conditions of one’s birth and believed that one can make a difference. He walked from Malawi to Khartoum and then on to America and he didn’t rest on his laurels – he went on to Cambridge. A sign of his ambition and self-belief that he thought that he could go to Cambridge – the highest institution of learning.

“ He valued that experience very much just as he valued his experience in America and that in Livingstonia. He had an imaginative capacity to turn that account of his travels into a book, I Will Try that has inspired generations of Malawians, Africans, Americans and British.  It is a story of a young man who changed his life for the better and about succeeding.”

Dr Msiska, who is also a writer of repute, noted that when Kayira, who died aged 74, decided to become a writer, he put all his effort into it.

“Between 1964 and 1974 he had written 4 novels, and that is a great accomplishment. He established himself as a leading writer, of not just Malawi, but Africa as well. He captured the essence of rural life in his book Jingala. Legson was a very special man and I cherished the fact that he wore his achievements and his fame lightly he didn’t push it on people. He dreamed of a free Malawi but for a long time it was impossible for Legson to go back to Malawi, and I know how much he loved Malawi and how he carried Malawi in his heart.”

Legson’s wife, Julie Kayira, spoke lovingly of him: “We all know Legson as a respected author and an honourable man. As well as knowing he had those qualities, I knew Legson, as a wonderful husband, who had an encyclopaedic memory, a continuing thirst for knowledge, a strong belief in God, a fine good humour and as a best friend and soulmate. We shall all miss Legson, but not as much as I.”

The Malawi High Commissioner to the United Kingdom,  Bernard Sande talked highly of Legson.

“His life was amazing. He was a great man who lived an extraordinary life which was exemplified by what he did as a young man walking on foot from Northern Malawi to Khartoum in Sudan. He set off with no money, equipped with only an axe, maize for just 5 days, a map of the world and of Africa and 2 books, one being the Bible. Having read his book as a young man, I found him inspirational and he has been my hero since then.

“His story is inspirational and serves to encourage other Malawians that anything is possible if you stay focused, dedicated and determined to your cause.”

Morners at Kensal Green cemetry:Left to right, Samson Chibamba,Bright Malopa and Mpalive Msiska

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