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Smith launches ‘Kamuzu Banda and Other Plays’

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By Sam Banda Jnr:

Mwase presents a book to the highest bidder

Renowned stage actor Smith Likongwe, who is also a drama lecturer at University of Malawi’s Chancellor College in Zomba on Sunday finally launched his new book ‘Kamuzu Banda and Other Plays’ at Malawi Sun Hotel in Blantyre.

During the launch, which attracted several players in the creative industry including Malawi Writers Union (Mawu) President Sambalikagwa Mvona and veteran poet Alfred Msadala, the audience had time to sample a performance of some of the scenes in Kamuzu Banda’s play.

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The performances were done by Blantyre-based YDC Theatre with Likongwe, who has written over 150 stage plays, radio and television scripts being part of the cast where he starred the late Gwanda Chakuamba.

‘Kamuzu Banda’ is a play in which Likongwe tells the story of the late Hastings Kamuzu Banda, the first president of Malawi.

Smith has taken up a key role to preserve some of the country’s works by publishing books and ‘Kamuzu Banda and Other Plays’ comes barely a year after he also launched ‘Southern African Plays Collection’.

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“The writing of plays for performance is in the doldrums throughout the world. The reasons vary from one country to another but the universal issue is the proliferation of the video and television. However, this should have instead been providing more work for playwrights,” Smith said.

He said creative players need to wake up from their slumber and take up the responsibility of publishing works as part of preservation.

“This book is all about contributing towards literature of Malawi so that the county continues to be counted in terms of playwriting and registering our presence. This is also all about producing works of reference and be at par with works from other parts of the world and other periods of history,” Smith said.

Having also written a book Living Playscripts:A Trilogy (Bakili’s Wit, The Tragedy of Bingu and Amai’s Turn), the veteran dramatist, said Kamuzu’s play is part of celebrating “our leaders” as well as taking the responsibility of recording the lives and times of various leaders.

“Through Kamuzu’s play, we want to expose their lives and ideologies as well as analyse their policies and governance styles in order to improve for the better in future,” he said.

Apart from ‘Kamuzu’, the other plays in the book include ‘Mission to Nyanjania’, ‘Love and Tears and Stop the Fire’.

National Theatre Association of Malawi (Ntam) President Frank Mwase, who was the guest of honour hailed Likongwe for publishing the book.

“This is a milestone because it sets a direction, the direction, that Malawian dramatists, playwrights and writers of all categories should be taking. We should be taking this direction if Malawi is to be recognised as a country that has writers and creative people,” Mwase said.

He said the majority of the literature in the country is foreign.

“There is nothing wrong with foreign literature. nothing wrong with foreign plays. But as Malawians, where are we in the equation? I want to agree with Smith Likongwe who has spoken before me that we should not be sleeping on the job as creative people,” he said.

There was an auction of the book during the event which also saw performances from Rhoda Zulu. There were also traditional dances.

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