MZUZU--Renowned writer and academic, Legson Kayira, has died aged 70 in London, United Kingdom, MaraPost has learnt.
Kayira was a Malawian novelist whose early works focused on Malawi's rural life and later satirised the Hastings Banda's regime before he was forced into exile. He never returned.
It was his novels, The Looming Shadow, Jingala, The Civil Servant, I Will Try and The Detainee which annoyed dictator Banda and Kayira was banned from visiting his country.
Most notable among his novels is I Will Try which is the only Malawian book ever to have been on the New York Times bestseller list for sixteen weeks. The book is about the impossible story of his walk from Malawi to Sudan in search of opportunities for education until, with luck, he managed to go to a university in the United States of America.
Until his death on Sunday, Kayira was a professor of Political Science at the University of Cambridge. And commenting on his Facebook page, Malawian writer and two-time Caine Prize nominee Stanly Kenani said he was sad to learn about Kayira's death.
"I am shocked to learn that Legson Kayira is dead. I met him once, when he came to see me at a Caine Prize Symposium at Birkbeck College in 2008 and he was such a great man and an inspiration. I am really sad," said Kenani.
Another writer had this praise for Kayira: "Legson Kayira was no ordinary young man. I didn't know how famous he was when I met him. To me he was just another foreign student. I had majored in Middle Eastern and African studies along with journalism and English before my transfer to the University of Washington, so I had familiarity with culture and interest in the people. Legson was bright and stood out in class. His goal was to become a politician or leader in his country Malawi and a writer as well. He spoke of his goals with great pride, but never boasted about his background."
Speaking in an interview with MaraPost from South Africa where he is attending an international conference for writers, Malawi Writers Union (Mawu) president Sambalikagwa Mvona said that the writing kindred in the country has suffered a loss.
"We are very sad. He has always been instrumental in fighting for change as a writer, a thing which our budding writers should learn from him. He will be greatly missed by Malawian writers and Malawi as a nation."
(c) The Maravi Post 2012. Reproduction without acknowledgement prohibited