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Creatives mourn Bernard Kwilimbe

The death of renowned composer, musician, choreographer and former director of culture has shocked the creative industry.

Several players in the creative industry and other sectors have said Kwilimbe’s death was a big blow to the industry and that his gap will be difficult to fill.

Kwilimbe died on Sunday night at Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe.

The veteran artist, who used to star with Old Is Good Band, will be laid to rest today in Nkhotakota.

Music Crossroads Malawi Director Mathews Mfune, who worked with him, described Kwilimbe’s death as a big loss to the nation.

“He was certainly the professor of Malawi’s arts and culture as well as a living library. He still had so much to offer. He has mentored many of us and we enjoyed his wisdom and humour,” Mfune said.

His death comes barely two months after the creative industry also lost Musicians Union of Malawi (Mum) board chairperson Geoff Gondwe.

Ethno-musician Waliko Makhala said Kwilimbe was the first professionally trained choreographer.

“He was an institution on his own and he trained a lot of artists and teachers in the country,” Makhala said.

Ken Ndanga wrote on social media that the song ‘Chidaona Moyo’ was a hit back in the years and that the man behind it was Kwilimbe, then a teacher, who rose through the ranks to become a senior civil servant.

“When Khoza introduced him to the only radio station in Malawi, MBC, that time, he referred to Kwilimbe as ‘young but versatile,” Ndanga said.

Ndanga said Kwilimbe had an impeccable experience with Malawi traditional music.

“He knew the depth and width of Malawi traditional music with finesse,” he said.

Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma) chairperson Charles Sinetre said the creative industry will miss Kwilimbe big time.

“He was about to give us awards of recognition in this coming week at Andiamo Campus with his organisation Rainseekers,” Sinetre said.

Former Norwegian Ambassador to Malawi Asbjorn Eidhammer said he was saddened to hear about the death of Kwilimbe.

“He was such a good and important man for music and culture,” Eidhammer said.

Mum President Reverend Chimwemwe Mhango said the creative industry has lost a father.

“He was our mentor and frankly speaking we are stuck because he was an archive and knew a lot,” Mhango said.

Kwilimbe told The Daily Times last month that he would continue to recognise personalities in different fields in the country including arts and culture through his Rainseekers Arts In Education Conservatoire.

Kwilimbe said there are more sons and daughters who deserve recognition.

“We do not have enough resources but the little we have, we have made it a point to honour deserving personalities. We will continue to do this and we are thankful to those who have encouraged us,” he said.

Rainseekers was based in Lilongwe and ,over a short period of time, it decorated several personalities, among them guitarist and singer Gilbert Ndowa and teacher and ethno-musicologist Victor Mwachumu Chunga.

The others who were honoured by Kwilimbe through Rainseekers include Vita Chirwa of Kalimba Band, Catherine Kamthunzi, Willard Kapindu, Zilanie Gondwe, Mtebeti Wambali Mkandawire, Charles Chavalamangwere Mkanthama, Maria Chidzanja Nkhoma and Waliko Makhala.

Kwil imbe was born on September 1 1955 in Nkhotakota. He went to Chididi Primary School and was later selected to Robert Blake Secondary in 1970.

He went to Blantyre Teachers College where he graduated as a primary school T2 teacher.

He was promoted to Assistant Teacher Training College Assistant for his outstanding performance in teaching music and was posted to Blantyre Teachers Training College in 1981.

Kwilimbe went for further studies at University of Newcastle in United Kingdom where he graduated with a diploma in education majoring in music and English.

He spent the next few years lecturing music at Lilongwe Teachers College.

In 1990, he was appointed the first choreographer to lead the first Malawi Cultural Dance Troupe.

Kwilimbe rose through the ranks until he retired as deputy director of culture in the department of culture.

He is the founder of Rainseekers Band and was a popular guest lead vocalist with MBC Band in the early 1980s and 1990s.

Kwilimbe is survived by a wife and six children.

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