It is not clear whether Chikumbutso Ndaferankhande’s ‘For tomorrow’ short story was hastily written, and sent away with no thought beyond the few kwacha it might bring but what came out clearly during the Malawi Writers Union/FMB Awards on Saturday is that it sailed with a fair wind straight into judges’ favour.
Ninety-seven contestants submitted short stories on themes ranging from Cashgate, plight of the girl child, among others.
And, so, it was on Saturday that, whereas Ndaferankhande, a journalist-cum-creative writer, headed for FMB Training Centre, the venue of the awards ceremony, heavily laden with a cargo of expectations. He returned home with an unexpected cargo of K250, 000, money that did not go directly into his black suit’s pocket but directly into his FMB bank account.
Under normal circumstances, Ndaferankhande was not supposed to be too excited, considering that he won the Mawu/FMB Short Story Awards First Prize in 2008 and, so, he was treading on the path he knows so well.
“Yes, I have won before but the feeling today is different. When I was entering the competition, I did not know that I would win,” Ndaferankhande said.
Eight years ago, Ndaferankhande’s short story, ‘Sins of the father’, scooped the top prize.
Ndaferankhande braved competition from Mathew Chione, whose short story, ‘What is in a man?’, was voted second. Robert Chirambo’s ‘I have killed you’ was on third. The two received K125, 000 and K80, 000, respectively.
Apart from the three winners, entries from position four to ten were also recognised.
Mawu also recognised and awarded James Matupi for being the Best Up-and-coming Writer, Foster Benjamin for being the Most Imaginative Writer and Mercy Rudani for Best Women Entry.
However, one of the issues that cropped up time and again was that of women participation, with Culture Minister-cum guest of honour, Patricia Kaliati, bemoaning the absence of women writers in the top three.
“[Mawu] president, make deliberate move to have women win,” Kaliati said.
Kaliati also urged Malawians to promote reading culture by opening “mini-libraries”, observing that Malawians seem to prefer “mini-bars” to “mini-libraries”.
However, Mawu President, Sambalikagwa Mvona, observed that a number of women participated in this year’s event.
FMB Head of Marketing, Silvia Mataka, said the bank would continue bankrolling the awards.
“We are getting into the 11th year and this [Mawu/FMB Awards] are our longest-serving sponsorship. We will continue sponsoring because it is one way of promoting culture in this country,” Mataka said.
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