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Moira speaks on Professor Chimombo

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A month after the country lost writer, poet, editor and teacher Professor Steve Miles Bernard Chimombo, his best friend and wife Moira, has described him as someone who had full knowledge of his culture.

“His knowledge of his culture meant that he made sure that I learned what to do, and he passed on to his brothers and sisters an understanding of the need for me to be instructed on different occasions, such as at weddings and other events,” said Moira.

She said she appreciates his family at this time, because they are continuing to support her in “our mutual bereavement.”

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“I am fortunate to have been raised in a family that appreciates the role of language and culture in marriage as well, and that God gave me the gift of language skills, because it is very difficult to learn about another culture without at the same time learning the language,” said Moira.

She said in many of his writings, Professor Chimombo did not forget to tackle cultural issues.

“It’s actually very difficult for me to write easily everything about my husband of 42 years, especially at this time. I have so many wonderful memories of our years together,” she said.

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Moira said one of the things that she shared with Professor Chimombo from the very beginning of their relationship, in 1971, when she met Steve on the first day of the first term of graduate studies at Leeds University (UK), was a love of poetry, particularly TS Eliot.

“In terms of his writing, I was always my husband’s first critic. I loved reading his poems, plays, novels, and short stories, and probing to help him find the exact right word. However, in no way have I ever been a creative writer!” said Moira.

She added that she enjoyed serving as the editor of his arts magazine,WASI.

Moira said Professor Chimombo was quiet and that he did not like speaking in public to large audiences, unlike her.

“I still enjoy presenting papers and engaging with an audience! In fact, when he was at Teachers College, Columbia University (New York), at first, the professors tended to think that because he did not participate vociferously in class, he was not likely to do well.

They quickly learned how intelligent he was, and how deeply he processed all the information that was presented,” she said.

Moira said that her husband was never flashy, nor did he ever have really extravagant tastes, although his favourite meal was Prawn Masala with Aloo stuffed paratha at Indian restaurants.

“I know very few people in this world who have as much integrity as Steve did. This was the solid foundation of our marriage, with love for each other completely independent of race,” she said.

Moira also said one or two people have asked if she will go back to UK now, “but my answer is that Malawi is my home.”

“Having been away from UK for more than 42 years, I would find it very difficult to settle there. Steve’s village is my village, and I expect to be buried in the same graveyard as him when my time comes,” she said.

Professor Chimombo died at the age of 70 and some of the books he published include The Hyena Wears Darkness, The Bird Boy’s Song, The Wrath of Napolo, Napolo and the Python, The Basket Girl, Wachiona Ndani? and The Rainmaker.

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