‘David Rubadiri is a global citizen’


Susan Kiguli, an associate professor in the Department of Literature at Makerere University in Uganda, said Monday that the country’s renowned poet, Professor David Rubadiri, is a global figure who is bigger than Malawi and Africa.

Kiguli, who was a student of Rubadiri, said this on Sunday at Ryalls Hotel in Blantyre after the reception of Rubadiri, organised by Pen Malawi in conjunction with Professor Frank Chipasula of Southern Illinois University in United States of America (USA).

During the reception, attended by, among other people, veteran writers, Rubadiri was decorated with a Sisters Award in absentia.


“I feel honoured to be here and to be part of the event celebrating a legend. Rubadiri is a world name; he is bigger than Malawi and he is bigger than Africa. He is the most anthologised African poet,” Kiguli said.

And true to her words, according to available information, the academician, poet, playwright and novelist is ranked as one of Africa’s most widely anthologised and celebrated poets to emerge after independence.

Rubadiri’s poetry has been praised as being among “the richest of contemporary Africa”.


His work was published in the 1963 anthology Modern Poetry of Africa (East African Publishers, 1996, and appeared in international publications including Transition, Black Orpheus and Presence Africaine.

His only novel, No Bride Price, was published in 1967.

“Rubadiri’s poetry connects with people and his poetry is very simple,” Kiguli, who teaches poetry, said.

She hailed Pen Malawi for honouring Rubadiri while he is still alive.

“People should be hounored when alive and what Pen Malawi has done is historic and a great achievement. This shows that Pen Malawi understands what Rubadiri means to Malawi, what he means to Uganda, to Africa and the world,” she said.

Kiguli said, while Rubadiri lives here, he is for Africa.

“Rubadiri is ours; in Uganda, he is ours as much as he is Malawian. He is a shared man,” the associate professor said.

During reception, Kiguli took time out to show the beauty of poetry, and what she learnt from Rubadiri, by dishing out sweet poems that spoke volumes of Rubadiri when he was teaching at Makerere University.

In one of the poems, ‘Rubadiri rules’, Kiguli appreciates Rubadiri’s work in terms of how he carried them along, teaching them day by day “that heroism is out of what we believe”.

Kiguli, who will also perform at Jacaranda Cultural Centre (JCC) in Blantyre tomorrow afternoon—with fellow Ugandan, Beverly Nsengiyunva, to commemorate World Poetry Day organised by Pen Malawi—also remembered the class of 1991 for Rubadiri in another piece.

Pen Malawi President, Alfred Msadala, said they decorated Rubadiri because he is one of the people who took Malawian literature to the world arena.

“He was recognised at Makerere University way back, he has been ambassador of Malawian literature in most anthologies and it’s really fitting to recognise him,” Msadala said.

He said, since it has coincided with the Women conference, among other things, they decided to name it Sisters Award and this was also why the presenters were women.

“Creativity has not been honoured in the country. People have been honoured in other circles and, maybe, this is a start so let’s push,” he said.

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