In Blantyre, emotions ran high as some media practitioners gather under glowing lights on a night filled with tears, joy and gratitude.
The occasion? A surprise dinner planned by over 100 former Capital Radio employees to honour the station’s legendary founder Alaudin Osman, the seasoned media veteran.
For a month, the group scattered across various fields worldwide secretly collaborated to express their gratitude for Osman’s invaluable mentorship.
The goal was not just to celebrate his priceless contribution but also to acknowledge him as a living legend beyond the country’s media industry.
Accompanied by his wife Hazel, daughters, grandchildren and his renowned brother, former Malawi National Football Team player and coach Yasin Osman, the man affectionately known as “Al” entered the room pulsating with the energy of waiting mentees eager to pay homage to his enduring legacy in person and through videos from those not present.
“We decided to present to you lovely bouquets of flowers while you are still alive instead of waiting to lay wreaths when you are dead and gone,” said Kenwood Kharika, the former presenter of the station’s flagship late-evening show, The Vintage Chart Show.
The poignant words resonated with a tribute from Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) sports presenter-cum-producer Phillip Business
“You gave me an opportunity,” he said “I came from nowhere and you touched my dirty work every day and polished it with courage and inspiration—and you did it so well. You wanted me to become better and I am better.”
Capital Breakfast Show ex-host Nicole Kamwendo aptly personifies female media professionals mentored by Osman.
After spending seven years at the station, she became an inspiration to girls nationwide and actively inspired many to pursue a career in journalism.
“You provided the essential springboard and fostered an excellent working environment that brought out the best in me and countless others,” she told the living legend.
A visibly moved Osman, now 79, said it was emotionally overwhelming to see some of the faces he had not seen for years.
“This was really tugging at the heart. I was very touched. I had to hold back a tear or two at some stage because I have never had such a moment in a long time,” he explained.
Osman founded Capital Radio in 1999, swiftly turning it into a beacon of excellence for news, hit music and programmes conceived to make democracy work.
The station not only set high standards for journalism, but also practical training for aspiring Malawian journalists.
“It has been a tough journey with a lot of bruises along the way,” he said. “We have been entirely dependent on advertising revenue and we can’t compete with media institutions that are supported by taxpayers.”
Despite these challenges, he remains hopeful that, in the future, there might be an opportunity for Malawians to become shareholders, transforming the family-owned business into a community-owned venture.
Osman’s journey, a tapestry woven across continents and nearly eight decades, includes being the first Malawian editor for The Daily Times, the publisher of the Financial Post during the multiparty transition and press secretary for Malawi’s first post-dictatorship president, Bakili Muluzi.
In the 1970s, his career took him to London, working as a sub-editor at the African Development magazine.
He later moved to Botswana, where he became chief press officer in the country’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting as well as founded the Botswana Press Agency and the Botswana Gazette newspaper.
Osman also worked as deputy editor-in-chief at the Southern African Economist magazine in Harare, Zimbabwe.
His diverse and impactful career reflects a lifelong commitment to journalism and a legacy of nurturing the next generation of media professionals.
As the night of thankfulness waned, the celebration of Osman’s achievements transitioned into a testament to the enduring impact he has had on shaping the future of Malawi’s media landscape.
The surprise dinner was a befitting tribute to a man whose influence continues to ripple beyond the lives and careers of the lucky few who have been guided by him.
The Capital Radio alumni presented their mentor with his pencil portrait, a human face of the lasting imprint he has left in the hearts and minds.