In a world where technology races faster, there is little interest in reading and writing.
Gone are the days when people used to scramble for books in libraries and even compete to finish a number of books within a set shortest time.
The current situation is worrisome so to say.
But with all this said, writers continue to write and publish books and, recently, Book Publishers Association of Malawi in promoting reading and writing cultures announced that it had engaged in children’s book development through a Global Book in Action project supported by Usaid.
Of late, a number of writers including ministers of the word of God have published and launched their books in the country, adding to the several works on the market.
Recently, former principal secretary Reverend Elsie Tembo also launched her second book titled My Footsteps in the Malawi Civil Service.
Through the book, Tembo said she wants to share her 40 years of experience in the civil service with other young people who are aspiring to develop a career in the public service.
“In the book, I am sharing some of the secrets to my success, the challenges I met on the way from stenographer to principal secretary and how I surmounted them and still made it to the top,” she said.
Pastor Aubrey Mwasinga, a Senior Pastor with Raised for a Purpose Ministries, recently, also launched his eighth book titled Personal Investment for 360 Success.
Mwasinga said the book unveils the three-fold investments (spiritual, intellectual and physical) that prepare and position an individual for repeatable, sustainable, ever-increasing and legendary 360 success in any endeavour.
“This book talks about succeeding not only in one area but we should be able to succeed in all areas of life and that is what 360 needs,” he said.
Tabitha Kumwembe is also one writer who has just published her work.
Kumwembe is passionate about writing and wants to see to it that more young people develop interest in reading and writing.
She has on the market her book titled Citrus.
“God willing, I want to make it into a book series. It’s currently on Amazon and other bookstores,” she said.
Kumwembe said she has been writing since she was 14 years old.
“I was exposed to different writers during this time which motivated me to start writing seriously. I enjoyed how one could literally create a world just by writing down words. Reading other people’s work inspired me to write,” she said.
In Citrus, Kumwembe opens with a protagonist, Alexis Creed, witnessing the murder of her parents by a merciless prudowian soldier.
Ultimately, her country, Sapphire, is destroyed which leads her to change her path and become a soldier and join, Citrus (Central International Tacit Resistance Union Service), one of the most formidable armies in the galaxy.
Her goal is to make a difference in a war-driven world she is accustomed to.
As years go by, Alexis Creed steadily rises through the ranks and becomes a captain, in charge of the strongest unit of Citrus, Unit Zero.
Unfortunately, for Alexis Creed, things do not go according to plan as she has learned from an early age.
A recruit joins Unit Zero.
Upon their first meeting, she recognises him as the man who murdered her parents.
“What transpired next? There is more and for those who would want to find out then they need to grab a copy,” Kumwembe said.
She described Citrus as an award-winning book which won a bronze medal for the Independent Publishers Awards (2021) and that it was also a finalist for the Book Excellence Awards for Science fiction.
“The book addresses different issues that people face in reality. The characters are three dimensional, well-developed and relatable,” Kumwembe said.
With a professional background in economics and communication, she described Citrus as science fiction, romance novel set in a futuristic military setting.
She admitted that technology, particularly social media, is addictive.
“I am an avid user but when it becomes too much for me to handle, I tend to take breaks. It could never, however, replace my passion for writing. It is a tremendous passion of mine that I believe truly entertains me to the core. It is one of my favourite ways to express myself and it is something I enjoy doing in my spare time,” Kumwembe said.
She further said writing is soothing and that it allows her to escape reality.
“Life can be difficult at times, so, having a distraction is beneficial and the benefit of being a writer is that you never run out of words,” Kumwembe said.
On her list of authors who have inspired her include Octavia Butler, an award-winning author, who is considered one of the greatest science fiction writers of all time and Joanne Rowling creator of Harry Potter.
“Harry Potter was rejected 12 times before becoming one of the best-selling book series of all time. I am glad that JK Rowling did not quit on the 11th try because it was not until the 12th attempt that she found success and is now regarded as one of the finest writers of all time. We need to keep writing and the smaller steps that we make will surely bear fruits,” Kumwembe said.
She called on young people to take strong interest in writing, saying this offers them a chance to express themselves and also take a lead role in tackling issues.
Kumwembe also took time to appreciate the works of Chinua Achebe, citing Things Fall Apart.
“Things Fall Apart sold between 15 and 20 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 60 languages, an incredible feat to achieve. As a fellow African, I am encouraged because I hope that my art, just like his, will be broadly embraced and break down barriers,” she said.
Seasoned writer Joshua Chienda, who runs a newspaper column in Nation on Sunday, has also published a biography of his father Yeremiah Chienda.
In the biography, Chienda has written an interesting and detailed account of the life and ministry of his father.
“It is an account of a son who knew his father in and out. This indicates how close I was to my father. It is very rare that a son can be as close as that. Only fathers who care for their children can be so close to their children,” he said.
In this account, Chienda walks with the reader detailing how his father interacted with so many people of different persuasions and at every level.
“As a country, let’s take an interest in writing biographies. There are so many stories out there that needed to be documented because they are part of our history but we have not. We need to write, a nation that does not write cannot progress. My father did a lot and served in various positions and I thought it wise to tell his story,” he said.
In the biography, Chienda tells the story of his father starting from his early years to his death on May 9, 2011.
In the book, Chienda writes about President Lazarus Chakwera, who in his eulogy as the representative of Evangelical Association of Malawi then, said he would always remember his father of a certain meeting at Chongoni where Chakwera asked for forgiveness from Nkhoma Synod on account of the events that surrounded his departure from the synod in the 1980s.
The Very Reverend Professor Silas Ncozana described the biography as powerful, saying it provides an extraordinary insight of the life and work of the departed man of God, who walked, worked, ate and laughed with them.
“The author has set a shining example to ministers’ children by writing the story about his father. He has shown that he loved his father and followed closely his ministry. On the other hand, he has revealed that Reverend Chienda was not only a good church leader but that he was a good and considerate father and an excellent companion to his wife,” Ncozana said.
Chienda said there are so many stories out there that Malawi has and need to be documented and that Malawians must wake up from their slumber and begin to write.