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Veteran actor Zakariya dies

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The creative industry in the country was yesterday morning dealt a heavy blow following the death of renowned actor Jacobs Mwase, who was popularly known as Zakariya in the theatre circles.

His death comes barely three months after the country lost another theatre genius John Nyanga better known as Izeki.

And just like Izeki, who was a resident of Ndirande Township in Blantyre, Mwase, who took pride in using the Yao language when acting which he believed made it easier for him to do well and yet he was not a Yao, lived in Ndirande.

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Zakaliya, who lived arts and depended on acting for his bread and butter, died at around 7 o’clock in the morning at Thyolo District Hospital where he was admitted on Sunday, according to his twin brother Samson.

Samson, who also starred with his brother in different plays, described the late Mwase as a talented person and that he was very creative.

“I don’t know what to say but only God knows why it has happened. My brother was very talented and he taught us acting,” he said.

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His wife Alice, who was also introduced to the world of acting by her husband and starred with him on stage and movies, could only say “death has robbed me of a great man, talented and genius.”

Several players in the creative industry were shocked with Mwase’s death yesterday.

“This is a loss to the theatre industry. He was very creative and he used his own unique style of acting and that is using the Yao language which was his brand as well as his dressing. Personally I starred with him in Sewero La Sabata Ino on MBC,” said Charles Mphoka, a member of Kwathu Drama Group.

Frank Yalu, who starred with Mwase as Zakaliya and Nginde in the comic circles but also worked with him in movies such as Tinkanena and Moyo said the country has lost a creative person.

“I am saddened with the death of my brother Jacobs Mwase. I am at a loss because he was a good person and we were more like brothers. He worked hard to develop theatre and through films he tackled several issues,” Yalu said.

He also said that he has passed on whilst they were working on a new movie.

“I have lost a pillar, that encouraged me to go forward in the arts. Now that he is gone I am just speechless,” Yalu said.

Kwathu Drama Group Director Eric Mabedi alias Jakobo said death has killed theatre.

“As Kwathu we suspended performances for three months to mourn John and now as we were preparing to start rehearsals we lost Jacobs, I am shocked. Jacobs was a veteran in theatre and he actually did well in film making,” Mabedi said.

Actor Harvey Soko, said he has lost a kid brother, who he grew up together in Ndirande and that he has appeared in almost all of his films.

“We formed Majaha Kids Theatre together before he found Mwambo Arts while at Namalimwe Primary School. May his soul rest in peace,” Soko said.

The Sunday Times of April 15, 2007, that he got the nickname from one of the plays and he formed his own theatre company – Zakaria and Mwambo in 1986 which among others did awareness programmes for various organisations, jingles and adverts.

Mwase told The Sunday Times that his serious entry into drama came through the popular play Tinkanena adding that he was invited for auditions and given a script by Marvin Hanke.

He has made appearances in several plays such as Zimachitika, Nzeru Nkupangwa, Sewero La Sabata Ino, Mbali Yanga and Tikuferanji on both television and radio.

Mwase in most plays assumed the role of a witchdoctor.

“I started acting when I was 12 years old at Likoma and I started in the church. In the first place I should say that I wanted to be a pilot but then this didn’t materialise and ended up going into the arts. I love the trade which is the only source of my bread and butter,” he told The Sunday Times.

Before starring in comics as Zakaliya and Nginde, Mwase also starred with the late Twaliki Wisiki, who was better known as Ada Mhone.

In May, 2016 Mwase also told The Nation newspaper that he was working on a new movie titled Palibe Chinsinsi.

According to Samson, Zakaliya, who was once a choir master at the Anglican church was born on August 27, 1966 and is survived by a wife and four children.

He hailed from Chiponde Village, Traditional Authority Mkumpha in Likoma.

Samson said Zakaliya will be buried at Namalimwe in Ndirande, Blantyre on Thursday.

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