Thousands of Malawians including politicians, academicians, artist, poets and the media fraternity on Tuesday gathered at HHI Cemetery in Blantyre to pay their last respect to renowned historian, economist and writer Desmond Dudwa Phiri, popularly known as DD Phiri, who died on Sunday.
Earlier, there was a funeral service held at St. Michael and All Angels CCAP Church and notable faces were Minister of Information Henry Mussa, Deputy Minister of Homeland Security, Charles Mchacha, former president, Bakili Muluzi and former Vice President Khumbo Kachali.
Born on 23rd February 1931, Phiri was a famous and regular columnist in two local dailies The Daily Times which is published by Times Group and Nation Newspaper published by Nation Publications Limited (NPL) where he had The DD Phiri column.
Speaking at his funeral service, Deputy CEO for Nation Publications Limited, Alfred Ntonga described DD Phiri’s death as a blow to the news organisation where he regularly cont and the nation.
“To us [NPL], our library has caught fire” said Ntonga.
Ntonga added that DD Phiri was patriotic and passionate about his work, saying he was also a dedicated reader who ensured that he read different books to give the nation the right information.
“He will be alive forever through his works,” said Mtonga.
Immediately after his death, Times Group Editor-in- Chief, George Kasakula in one of Times titles described Phiri as a “moving library and encyclopaedia.”
He said late Phiri was a fantastic columnist who combined the almost impossible combination of economics, history and sociology.
“He wrote with competence and finesse. He was always timely with his columns. People think writing a column is easy. They start with enthusiasm but falter along the way. It was not the case with DD Phiri. We will miss him. May his soul rest in peace,” Kasakula said.
On his part, Malawi Writers Union (Mawu) president Mike Sambalikagwa Mvona said it is unfortunate that government continues to neglect writers despite their major contributions to the country’s development.
He bemoaned that while some people continue to be honoured by government for no tangible contributions at all, the same was not being accorded to writers.
Mvona argued that Phiri, who was a founding member and board chairperson of the union, should have been accorded “a state funeral” with national honours.
“It is sad that writers who have contributed a lot to this country continue to neglect. Government should rethink the situation of writers,” said Mvona.
“DD Phiri was the teacher. Mawu has about 900 members, but over 500 learnt from him,” he added.
But Minister of Information, Henry Mussa, said government would be engaging the country’s major writers block soon to map the way forward.
“The concerns have been noted, and we will definitely do something about it,” said Mussa.
DD Phiri was in 2011 honoured as one of the 20 top authors in Africa alongside Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka by the Pan African Writers Association (PAWA).Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :