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.
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.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :