January 15, which this year fell on Saturday, was special in that the country commemorated the life of one of its heroes John Chilembwe, who fought colonialists.
The day this year also saw creatives commemorating the life of renowned dramatist Frank Patani Mwase, who died of Covid last year.
The memorial started with a church service at St Columba CCAP Church in Blantyre and thereafter another service at Misesa, where he was buried, before a show at Blantyre Sports Club.
The event at Blantyre Sports Club attracted an impressive audience which included artists and its climax was a play titled The Divorce which was written by Patani Mwase.
In the play, directed by renowned University of Malawi drama lecturer Smith Likongwe, which had a cast of established and budding actors including Jeremiah Mwaungulu, Yankho Seunda, Felicity Thunyani, Jack Musumba and musician Goma Nyondo, the audience saw the finest artistry of Patani Mwase.
Although there was a delay in staging the play due to a stretched list of activities, people enjoyed the production and, at times, even sang along to the songs performed by Nyondo.
The production tells the story of a couple, played by Mwaungulu and Tissie Chinombo, whose love faces a stern test due to the man’s failure to perform his conjugal roles.
“A great and strong script as well as strong cast and we were able to tell it the way Frank wrote it. Plans are there to sustain this and even do regular lessons to move in the path of reviving theatre just as Frank Patani Mwase wanted,” Likongwe said.
Patani Mwase, who is the brains behind the creation of Wakhumbata Ensemble Theatre (Wet) alongside theatre maestro Du Chisiza Jr and ethno-musician Waliko Makhala, excelled in both stage and radio drama.
“If in Malawi we had a Hall of Fame for Achievers in Theatre, Frank Patani Mwase’s name would have belonged in that Hall of Fame,” Marvin Hanke, who worked with Patani Mwase during MBC’s Theatre of the Air, said.
Several people spoke of the greatness of Patani Mwase in their eulogies during the event and some through videos played on the screen and they included Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture Michael Usi, who failed to make it, social media influencer Stanley Onjezani Kenani, Wongani Munthali and Maggie Chaika.
As a Tonga, Mdauku wa Atonga also spoke through its vice chairperson Levi Zeleza Manda, praising Patani Mwase for his immense contribution to the growth of the grouping.
Patani Mwase’s widow Patricia took the audience on their journey and also spoke highly of his great personality that saw him helping others who were not even his relatives and this was even attested by Chiletso Mbewe.
Mbewe, who is from Balaka District and is now based in Lilongwe, said Patani Mwase supported him and that he rose from being a minibus conductor to a banker.
Apart from enjoying Patani Mwase’s piece, the audience had time to sample some of the productions during his time with Wakhumbata Ensemble Theatre (Wet) and other programmes.
On the menu was also music which was dear to Patani Mwase, especially jazz, and people had to sample a performance from former Makasu member Wallace Ngoma, who played the trumpet. Makhala, as a long-time friend, also had his share of music.