MEET: Chikumbutso Ndaferankhande, Mawu / FMB award winner


It could be that Phillip’s happiness lied in his power to make Chikumbutso Peter Ndaferankhande’s life happy and serene; he might have wished to see the burden of ignorance in the young Ndaferankhande laid down forever.

What Phillip did not know, when he took this year’s Malawi Writers Union (Mawu)/FMB Short Story Awards winner to the library is that he [Ndaferankhande] would live to cherish that experience.

In fact, he has even beaten expectations, winning the Mawu/FMB Short Story Awards twice— in 2008 and this year. This means the short story writer’s heart has become so free to pour itself out in the wise charity that is creative writing.


Ndaferankhande’s ‘For tomorrow’ short story won this year’s top award on Saturday. This may not mean the short story sailed with a fair wind straight into judges’ favour. In total, 97 writers submitted short stories on themes ranging from Cashgate, plight of the girl child, among others.

But it was Ndaferankhande who was to walk away with K250, 000. Ndaferankhande braved competition from Mathew Chione, whose short story, ‘What is in a man?’,was voted second-best.

Robert Chirambo’s ‘I have killed you’ was on third. The two received K125, 000 and K80, 000, respectively.



Ndaferankhande might be a renowned journalist, short story writer and whatever he does in life, but his love for the letters can be attributed to one moment in the 1980s, a moment he cherishes to date.

And that moment is, “Way back in the late 80s when I was seven years old my cousin brother Phillip took me to the National Library [Service] (NLS) in Lilongwe where I chanced into a book Dala ndi chiwala by James Ng’ombe. This spurred the reading urge in me.”

Surprisingly, Phillip himself— who took the horse to the source of literature, the NLB— and Ndaferankhande’s family members are not into creative writing. He says he is the only one who is into creative writing.

However, the fruits of the chance encounter with Ng’ombe’s book did not bear fruit until 1995, for this is the time Ndaferankhande decided to taste the waters.

“My first published story was in Chichewa [and it was] titled Mphoto ya uchimo published on October 27 1995 when I was roughly 13 [years]. [It was published]

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