Sam Mpasu, formerly Ntcheu Central Constituency legislator (1994-2004) is a Malawian politician and novelist. Also a former cabinet minister in President Bakili Muluzi government, Mpasu just published his third title: The Hare and Other Folktales. Nyasa Times’ Pius Nyondo writes about Mpasu’s life, and the just released book.
To many Malawians, Sam Mpasu is just one of those politicians – making news here, noise there. But the fact is that Mpasu’s life is multifaceted. The list of what he does ends not on politics. Mpasu is a published novelist, and just recently Malawi woke up to a new realization that the 70 year old is also a very capable folklorist.
Mpasu just published a new title on folklore literature: The Hare and Other Folktales.
It was forty years ago, at the age of 30, that Mpasu published his debut novel, Nobody’s Friend. Then, he was just a fresh graduate from University of Malawi’s Chancellor College and working as a diplomat in Germany.
“My writing started as a hobby, and it is still a hobby,” he told arts and entertainment journalist Kondwani Kamiyala in 2008. “I did not set out to be a professional writer. And, because it is a hobby, I take it up anytime I’m free to enjoy it.”
After Nobody’s Friend in 1975 – which got him incarcerated as the powers-that-be then interpreted it as referring to Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda who was nobody’s friend as far as international relations were concerned – it took Mpasu a good two decades to publish another book, Political Prisoner 3/75 in 1995.
Thus he commented on Political Prisoner 3/75: “What shocked me was a serious campaign by the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) trying to discount the stories of atrocities – that they did not happen, that we were telling lies. That fired me to put my experiences down into a book. So, I wrote that book [Political Prisoner 3/75] in two weeks – from memory.”
Well, maybe it is Mpasu’s style to publish after every 20 years. Last month, two decades after Political Prisoner 3/75, Mpasu announced the publication of his third book: The Hare and Other Folktales.
In the new book, Mpasu branches off from adult fiction to that of children.
“It is an attempt to rekindle the fireside folktale culture that I inherited from my grandparents – a tradition that is slowly dying,” Mpasu told The Nation.
According to Mpasu, Malawians are slowly losing folktale tradition.
“It was a moral campus for the young ones. Through the folklores lessons of bravery, stupidity, malice and honesty were passed on. Now our children are glued to television screens from where they learn foreign values.”
While admitting the marasmic culture of reading and writing in the country, the former speaker of the Malawi parliament challenged writers to create material that is interesting.
“When you write material that is interesting, people will read. You have to give children a good reason why they have to leave their TV screens and read your story,” he advised.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :