The lure of Pamajiga

There are a lot of radio plays, series and soap operas aired on our local radio stations that have excited listeners for many years.

One of them is Pamajiga radio soap opera that is aired on Malawi Broadcasting Station (MBC).

Soko (as Anyoni) and Linda Chatha (as Akazi a Nyoni) acting during the recording of Pamajiga

It continues to excite listeners every working day from 5:45 to 6:00 in the morning.

“The play of Pamajiga started in 1973. The first producer was Smart Likhaya Mbewe also known as Kapalepale. He was the one who introduced Pamajiga,” recalls  Elson Soko, who started acting in Pamajiga when he joined MBC in the late 1970s.

“At the time, Likhaya Mbewe was producing Kapalepale, a radio play that was aired on MBC on Saturday evening,” says Soko, a legendary actor of Pamajiga who is known as Anyoni.

Soko says at that time, Likhaya Mbewe thought of bringing a twin play of Kapalepale as Pamajiga.

The difference between Pamajiga and Kapalepale is their orientation and time factor, explains Soko.

He says that Likhaya Mbewe designed Pamajiga to be a 15-minute play full of controversy, humour and fun.

“Likhaya Mbewe said there should be funny characters who will be cracking jokes to make people laugh and happy,” recalls Soko.

Pamajiga play starts at the climax where conflict piles up and quickly subsides into denouement or conflict resolution.

In Pamajiga, there is no room for building conflict. It just starts. It does not follow the conventional way of story development as time is of the essence.

Soko says he joined Pamajiga soon after it started. Before becoming an actor in the play, the actors then were Kennedy Chilimdzinja, Alice Matola and Kingsley Zigwedela known as Zamadula.

Before Soko joined, the protagonist was Zamadula.

Today, Pamajiga plot revolves around Anyoni and his family.

Anyoni is the protagonist.  He is well known as a confusionist who stands for people in the villages who have a stubborn attitude.

Anyoni’s character flaw is that he overrates himself. It is his failure to discern that human beings are prone to err that lands him into trouble. Positively, Anyoni is a person who quickly accepts criticism and amends his ways.

Akazi a Anyoni is Linda Chatha. Steve Ligomeka is mfumu (the chief), Enipher Chiwaya is Anyoni’s daughter (Mwana wa Anyoni) while MacBen Kochi is Anyoni’s son-in-law (Mkamwini wa Anyoni).

According to Soko the first producer of the play mainly intended to have a character that would be capable of delivering jokes.

“One day I was playing bawo with employees outside MBC building. Likhaya Mbewe identified me that I have skills of acting and that I can crack jokes that can make people laugh. He had seen that people at the bawo were just laughing from my jokes,” remembers Soko.

According to James Mbendera from Chiwembe in Blantyre, an ardent follower of the radio play, it is Anyoni that he likes the most.

Anyoni is a master of witty jokes in the play,” Mbendera says.

Another listener, Twaha Amidu from Ndirande Township in Blantyre likes Pamajiga for its moral lessons on life.

He says he tunes in to the radio every day at 5:45 in the morning to catch up with Pamajiga.

Misheck Mzumara, patron of Mzuzu University Arts Theatre Group (Mutag) says that Pamajiga is a relevant play even in our time despite that it started in the 1970s.

He says the play addresses issues that are pertinent to our society in everyday life.

“The play, especially targeting people living in rural areas offers a voice of criticism to some immoral behaviour in our society.

“Another important thing is that the play is not really scripted. It is spontaneous and this presents an honest and true way of life. It is real,” Mzumara says.

He notes that the strength of the play lies in its presentation of life at the level of reality and not from a romantic perspective.

“Since the people in the villages are real Pamajiga is oriented to mirror those realities,” he observes.

The current producer of Pamajiga, Hope Chisanu says that the radio play continues to target rural masses and yearns to correct bad morals.

“The drive of the play is that it seeks to better citizens in the way they live and do things. Through Anyoni and other characters in the play, a problem is identified and is addressed, and a solution is given,” says Chisanu.

Soko says as Pamajiga continues to air so too people in the rural masses continue enjoying its exhilarating and controversial actors who criticise society with subtlety and fun. 

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