Roscoe tribute to Prof Steve Chimombo

Professor  Steve Chimombo’s death, recently announced, has robbed Malawi of one of its  finest writers and educators, whose contribution in particular to the growth of a national tradition of literature in English has been substantial.

Chimombo: Dies

Chimombo:  No More

Among the nation’s most prolific writers, his work was often not only experimental, but also wide-ranging in its choice of forms. These included verse, short and long, and in prose the short story, novella, novel, a journal for aspiring writers, the country’s first Directory of  Writing, and of course literary criticism.

One his special achievements was to create from the oral heritage  a mythic framework within which he could shape an ironic response to life under the rule of Dr Kamuzu Banda and explore the place of writers within a postcolonial era.

Paradox, irony, and modernist fluidity were his trademarks and some of his most memorable, indeed most haunting,  poetic effects arose from a skilful blending of the concrete and abstract  to reflect pain that was psychological more than physical.

It was no surprise when his work won both BBC and Penguin awards and nomination for the Commonwealth Poetry Prize of 1987.

My sympathy and condolences go to his wife Moira and the children.

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mfumu magombe

Prof. Chimombo may not have been in the same class as Wole Soyinka but they had a lot in common. As a young man Steve adopted a hairstyle similar to Soyinka. I have no doubt that he was a great admirer of the great Nigerian writer. Prof. Chimombo has left a legacy that will be hard to emulate. But the fact remains that he has immortalised himself in the history of Malawian writers. His passing was a shock to all who knew and admired him. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

Proof Read

Dumbfounded and shocked. Who will carry on the mantle?

changalikandu pwagu

The passing of Prof Chimombo is a sad chapter in the history of modern language and literature in Malawi. Prof Chimombo stands tall among the literary giants of Malawi. He was among the first college of writers that emerged in the early post-independence period who later influenced a host of younger writers that have left a mark on Malawi’s literary history. May his soul rest in peace.


one of my great teachers, in and outside class. when we studied wachiona ndani with francis moto, my first question was, ‘how did steve get away with kamuzu’s censorship?’ an organic intellectual, one of the finest postcolonial thinkers we have ever produced on the continent! how ironic that you have departed during the rainy season. is this napolo finally returning to the mountain? or is it m’bona himself performing one last rain dance? go thee well our samurai!!!

owen odinga

Sad indeed


We will miss this great man, a true Malawian writer. May His Soul Rest In Peace



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