There is a deep and husky voice that booms from radios every morning on MIJ FM. The alluring voice has been behind a certain segment of MIJ’s day break programme, the flagship Good Morning Malawi. The combination of the enticing voice and issues that make up the five minute segment make the two simply irresistible.
The satire called Bwande, is a great piece of art that explores day to day life from politics to sports. The cartoon’s protagonist, writes letters to a brother Dodolido, who is in Diaspora, more specifically, United Kingdom, updating him on the current issues in the country.
“Bwande is a radio cartoon that came into being from previously a newspaper column that I wanted to introduce in one of the local papers. The radio opportunity arrived first.
It is simply a letter written by a villager known as Bwande from Malawi to his brother Dodolido in Diaspora.
“It is my brain child with an inspiration from late Gladys Khoza’s ‘Letter from my heart’ and BBC’s ‘Letter from America’ by Alistair Cooke. The villager in me made me to come up with the letter. My association with village life eventually made me be their spokesperson. I believe I speak on behalf of the villagers who hardly find space to voice out their concerns,” said the man behind the cartoon Deus Sandram in an interview.
But why of all the names use Bwande which in other cultures means an ignoramus person?
“I just feel the name suits the character of Bwande. It portrays a stubborn villager who is keen to comment on everything that happens in his country, even with limited or no information at all,” he explained.
And now, after 10 years of entertaining, educating and informing people through the Bwande character, the brains behind the radio cartoon is releasing a collection of some of the letters on a CD in December this year.
“I am done with compilation, and other logistics. We are now duplicating the copies and will hit the market soon after identifying the suitable distribution strategy,” he revealed.
Currently, CDs will be made of letters from Bwande but in future, Sandram is thinking of including Dodolido replies as well. Since Bwande started over 10 years ago, the character has written over 1000 letters.
“The first CD will have a selection of what are considered as best letters by the listeners. But since there are many we will also have several volumes. Right now I have close to a hundred volumes ready. So I will be releasing them one by one and so far I have done 1143 letters,” he explained.
Originally, Deus created the letter when he was a student with intentions to storm the print media. Since he was exposed to radio at MIJ FM, he decided to plunge in with it.
Over the years Bwande has grown and continues to attract many fans. The cartoon has managed to remain relevant to Malawians.
“I guess its major secret has been its reliance on current affairs.
Mind you, production of an episode takes about an average of 4 hours, thus composing and recording,” boasted Sandram.
However, this feat has not come on a rosy path for the artist as there have been instances where he has been threatened by some individuals who felt they were attacked through Bwande.
“Several times, every time the letter gets on air, I either get compliments to those that feel ok with it, and often times threats from some individuals that feel offended by the letter. On several occasions I have encountered some strange occurrences. Last year armed robbers came from my home, just shot at the car and disappeared,” he said.
But he is not moved with that hence working on the first volume of Bwande, a project will take slightly above K1 million upon completion.
“Honestly, I never thought people will have so much interest to have the letter put on a CD like they have now,” he mused.