The creative industry on Wednesday woke up to the shocking news of the death of one of the country’s talented visual artists Innocent Willinga Gondwe.
The artist, popularly known in the arts industry as Innocent Willinga, died on Tuesday night at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre after suffering from asthma and pneumonia, according to his brother, Lameck Gondwe.
“He was asthmatic and on Monday he complained of body pains. We all believed it was related to his condition. He went to the hospital where he was treated as an outpatient,” he said.
Gondwe said the situation did not improve and on Tuesday he went back to the hospital where he was told that his oxygen levels had decreased and that he had pneumonia.
“He was put on oxygen, but, unfortunately, he failed to make it and passed away the same night,” said Gondwe in an interview.
The body of Willinga was taken to Makuni, Traditional Authority Chikulamayembe in Rumphi where burial is scheduled for today at Luvili.
Until his death, Willinga was running an advertising firm called ArtMalawi, which he co-owned with business executive Chadwick Mphande.
His creative work took him to a number of places which included stints with reputable advertising firms such as Roof House Ogilvy, where he was creative director and deputy managing director. He also worked for Top Ad Advertising Agency.
His former workmate at Roof House, Rogers Siula, described Willinga as a complete artist: “He was an all-round creative artist in as far as graphic designing, concept development of adverts and directing is concerned. He was also a fine painter and illustrator.”
One of the people who also worked closely with Willinga, Jack MacBrams Chirwa said he was a versatile artist whose dexterity can only be appreciated by the nature of his paintings and the depth of his art.
He said: “Beyond his art, he was a consumable individual, much loved by everyone he encountered. His warmth and kindness enriched our lives and his death leaves us poorer.”
Willinga is credited for a number of paintings one of them being the mural that graces the walls of Lacarvena Art Gallery in Mandala and Ryalls Hotel in Blantyre. He was born in 1976 and was married with two children.