Malawi writer, media trainer dies: Tito Banda

One of Malawi’s powerful novelists Tito Banda died Tuesday afternoon after a long illness at Mwaiwathu Private Hospital in the commercial capital of Blantyre, Nyasa Times has confirmed.

Details about burial arrangements are yet to be established.

A revered author and novelist best known for his titles Sekani’s Solution, A Bitter Disapproval and The Luck Charm, Banda was also known for his research work oral literature among the Tumbukas of northern Malawi.

Eulogies flowing on social media unanimously described Banda – who until his death was lecturer in the department of languages and literature at Mzuzu University – as a humble, selfless personality “who taught us the stuff he lived, not just copied and pasted on the chalkboard.”

Tito: The void left by him would be difficult to fill.
Tito: The void left by him would be difficult to fill.

The 2012 First Merchant Bank/ Malawi Writers Union Short Story Award winner Pius Nyondo described Banda as a perfectionist, down-to-earth personality who wanted the best for the country’s literature.

“He was a prolific writer whose works will have an everlasting bearing on my career as a budding writer. His writing have always made an impressive impression.

“To me Tito was an unsung hero in Malawi’s creative writing circles for his passion and love for literature. He was an asset not only to Malawi, Africa but also to the rest of the world,” said Nyondo who is also incumbent Malawi Writers Union (Mawu) national coordinator for budding writers.

A media trainer, Banda was someone “who would never trade his professionalism for any price. He was a man who privately trained many journalists at the turn of multiparty politics through KTZ Media Services,” according to Nigeria based Malawian journalist Isaac Masingati.

Added Masingati: “While he could easily get a lucrative job at the many newsrooms, he dedicated his time writing a church newspaper for Livingstonia Synod. In everything he taught, he emphasized ethics. He taught me feature writing and I can say it here without fear of being misunderstood that he was the best in the area!”

 Nyasa Times  Media Group’s editorial director Thom Chiumia said  Banda was “a doyen of the journalism fraternity in Malawi.”

Chiumia pointed out that  many journalists in the country, including himself, benefitted from his training .

Tito Banda was born and brought out at Chigude, in Tihauke Village, Traditional Authority Kampingo Sibande, Mzimba district.  He attended Mzimba and Nkhata Bay secondary schools and did his college education at Messiah College of Liberal Arts and Temple University in Pennsylvania, USA.

Banda was a Malawian novelist with a unique touch and a rare creative expertise that made him remain an unsung hero in uplifting Malawian literature. His first novel, Sekani’s Solution was published by Popular Publications in 1980. It was the first novel in the Malawi Writers Series, which the publishers had established in 1974.

In May 1980, Popular Publications received encouraging word from the Secretary to the Noma Award managing committee concerning Sekani’s Solution. Hans M. Zell wrote: “In the light of some independent assessments we have had on [Sekani’s Solution], there is a possibility that it may be shortlisted for the award…. Over 120 titles from 55 publishers in 17 African nations have been submitted…”

Banda later published a second novel, A Bitter Disapproval in 1987 and had recently published his third novel, The Luck Charm with Malawi Writers Union (Mawu). He also went into academic publishing.

In 2006, Mzuni Publications published his Old Nyaviyuyi in Performance: Seven Tales from Northern Malawi as Told by a Master Performer of the Oral Narrative. He also published several academic papers on Malawian literature.

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