DD Phiri got what he deserves

Good people, it was amazing Jacaranda Cultural Centre honoured veteran author and columnist Desmond Dudwa Phiri, widely known as DD Phiri, by mounting an exhibition of his journey to the top.

Like credible awards, exhibitions and talks confer status on deserving achievers.

DD Phiri is doing wonderful work towards constructing an informed nation. To avid readers, the veteran is a gift that keeps sharing the gift of words and insights about Malawi’s unique place in the global context.

A nation without history is like a tree without roots, it is said.

DD Phiri ceaselessly uses his columns and books to nourish generations with vital insights into where the country is coming from, where it is and why we cannot keep doing business as usual.

And the versatile economist, who holds an honorary degree from the University of Malawi, shares topical snippets that have impact in the way people and companies make money in the country.

He is a simple person always approachable by those hungry for knowledge.

Those who have met him on the streets of Blantyre speak of an old man sheathed in layers of clothes, including a long coat and Wilson hat.

He walks long distances, a journey he travels with passion and credits with him fit and going strong at 86.

He is no respecter of the youth who happily hitch a ride for every short trip.

Interestingly, the strength of his body, mind and soul is clear in every typewritten script of his insightful weekly columns.

Every Sunday, I begin my day by re-typing and editing the dispatches from DD Phiri on a computer.

Every single script out of his beloved typewriter speaks of a man who reads tirelessly, pays attention to detail, perceives the present with hindsight and foresight, strives to get spellings and grammar right, values his duty to meet reader’s legitimate expectation and derives joy and satisfaction in what he writes.

It does not appear he is giving up writing today though he tells us writing can be a lonesome job.

To attend an exhibition of his exploits was a refreshing break from everyday toils, a breakaway from the ordinary. It shows that someone appreciates what he does.

Thumbs up, Luc Deschamps and all the brains behind Jacaranda, for recognising the fervent writer.

Interestingly, Malawi Writers Union (Mawu) president Mike Sambalikagwa Mvona underscored the need to honour creative achievers before they die by naming some streets and public buildings after them.

Great idea. The country needs a break from names of politicians and colonialists who dominate the nomenclature of our roads and buildings.

But the Mawu ‘life president’ sounds like a self-righteous lord—for he does not have a clue how to honour deserving achievers.

Just this month, Copyright Society of Malawi used its silver jubilee to honour various artists and it was shocking that the Best Writer Award went to no other than Mvona himself. What outstanding literary has he produced lately? As the head of the writers body and their representative in Cosoma affairs, he was supposed to step aside and cast the net wider.

But this is Mvona. He is Mawu and Mawu is his. The best writer! n

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