2011: Poetry group silent, partly cloudy

Silence. Some say it is golden, while others feel it just isn’t!

If you love poetry, you will understand that every hush is wrought with more meanings than the puns of sonnet’s smith William Shakespeare.

The echoes of silence spiralling from Poetry Association of Malawi (PAM) this year can only be equally multifaceted or futile.

Where the association traditionally holds four sessions of its trademark Chitsinda cha Ndakatulo (a hive of poetry) annually, they only hosted one. Where the outcry was gaining sway that the festival should diversify beyond Blantyre, PAM president Felix Katsoka (Njonjonjo) and company only managed to bring it back to the Warehouse Cultural Centre where it has been domesticated since its birth two years ago.

When the show came, it was two weeks after the death of Obrien on June 27. Born in 1974, Nazombe was a broadcaster, producer and poet who personified, dug deeper in his pockets and brimmed with deep-rooted belief to walk the low-perching dream of making Chitsinda bigger and better. As expected, the long-awaited return of Chitsinda show on July 6 turned into a tribute to the deceased who in the words of Sylvester Kalizang’oma worked hard to ensure it happened.

No amount of tears or roses will tell a complete tale of the legacy of the Joy FM presenter who founded Pa Tsinde programme which gives poets a rare platform to showcase their musings. Here was the man who dedicated his Namanyonyolo Studio and life to the benefit of the art long downsized to a curtain-raiser of music and drama shows.

Like poets did at the lone Chitsinda, I celebrate the life of Namanyonyolo giant who was a blessing to the arts world in many ways.

It appears PAM has a daunting task to remain relevant and active in the afterlife of its fallen spokesperson, Nazombe.

As PAM slumbered, the likes of Nyamalikiti Nthiwatiwa (real name Chisomo Ndala) and Poetic Angel (Linda Gabriel) were out and about telling their long stories short. The duo’s Bluntfyre affair unearthed the potential of Dave Namusanya, Tawonga Nkhonjera and Andekuche Chanthunya. They travelled beyond the borders too.

So did the versatile Qabaniso Malewezi. Apart from launching his anthology Road Taken, Q took part at the Harare International Festival of Arts (Haifa) in Zimbabwe. On October 1, he put up a mesmerising performance at Lake of Stars in Mangochi alongside veteran Alfred Nsadala and Nyamalikiti.

Equally enthralling was the return of Poetry Africa, the arts entourage which brought Jamaican dub poet Mutabaruka and Malawi’s own Frank Chipasula live at Blantyre Arts Festival (BAF) last year.

This time, the mission included renowned bards such as Zimbabwe’s Chioniso Maraire, Ghana’s Kwame Dawes and South Africa’s Paulsaid Paunde. It can only get better next year.

When all was said and done, poetry paved the way for its makers to take the transition from boyhood to adulthood. In this regard, we witnessed the wedding of Unkalidanji Moyo star  Kalizang’oma and the engagement of his Ku Simungolia colleague Hudson Chamasowa. May the boys be men indeed.

Otherwise, one can only hope the recitals will get louder and clearer, for silence does not build cathedrals.

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