Professionals joined by a common interest in reading and writing grouped as The Writers’ Block on Saturday donated assorted books to the Chichiri Prison library.
Inmates and officials welcomed the gesture, which included books on religion, culture, geography, literature, history, sports and so much more. But they hoped for more books, especially subscribed texts for the primary and secondary school syllabi.
Headmaster for the primary and secondary schools at the prison Christopher Chitika was glad with the donation.
“We are glad with the donation. It will help increase the reading culture at the prison since some inmates are looking for books they have never read while others want to reread titles they read years back.
“However, we need more subscribed texts for our primary and secondary schools,” said Chitika, an inmate.
Agreeing with him, head of the library, who is a fellow prisoner, Evans Mikundi, said the prison library has for so long been forgotten by well-wishers visiting the prison with donations.
“Education is vital if prisoners are to be reintegrated into the society. We need even Standard 1 books, since some of the inmates are illiterate.
“Besides, there used to be computers in our library but they crashed. We also need stationery, writing materials, chalk and exercise books,” said Makundi.
Last year, the prison registered a 32 percent pass rate against the national 50 percent.
Happiness Kaliza, the prison’s education coordinator, hailed the writers’ group for the donation.
“We are happy that the group has replenished our library. Every book has a purpose and we feel this will help the prisoners enjoy the collection,” said Kaliza.
Writers’ Block project’s manager Chisomo Mdala aka Nyamalikiti Nthiwatiwa, said the donation was part of the group’s notion to improve the Malawi reading and writing culture.
“There is no writer who never read. We have heard there are poets and writers in the prison. The collection will help them develop ideas. Not only that, those studying will enjoy this supplementary reading collection and since some prisoners have more idle time, reading will help them with entertainment and gain knowledge in the process,” said Mdala.
Previously, the group visited writer and former Cabinet minister and Speaker of the National Assembly Sam Mpasu when he was serving sentence at the prison.
The group has also conducted a short story writing contest for Blantyre schools and a writers’ workshop that involved venerated Jamaican poet Mutabaruka.