NEWS | POETRY | ARTS & CULTURE
By Yona Gondwe
If we could be given a chance to write the history of the modern day poetry in Malawi, that book would be incomplete if one Raphael Mlakatuli Sitima’s name could be absent from the pages.
Raphael is no stranger to the country’s word art industry. He is one of the pioneers of modern day word art. He has been there shaping the modern day poets into some recognizable features.
Sitima ventured into this industry way back in the 90’s having been inspired by some of the country’s legends in the business; Gospel Kazako, Okomaatani Malunga, George Chingeni, Innocent Kaneneni and Rorent Namarankha among others.
“After listening to their poems on Nzeru Nkupangwa Program, on MBC radio 1, I started developing interest in poetry which led me to come up with my first poem when I was in standard 3 in 1995 and I recited it in the attendance of chiefs, teachers, parents and my fellow children during the school Opening Day. People encouraged me and that marked the beginning of my poetry journey.” Recalls Sitima.
In an interview, Sitima said his first poem was about the importance of education and it was not recorded because by then to record something was not easy as it is in these days due to electricity and other issues.
Sitima said “art is an inborn talent and to be a poet is an inborn talent too, school is just there to add on top of the already existing talent and we do not have to force ourselves to do art.”
As to who is his favorite poet locally and internationally, the southern region poet said his favorite poet is the one who is at home writing his or her poems but have never published them, let alone recording them and has never recited anywhere but he or she always listen to poets and follow them hoping that one day he or she will be a poet too.
Sitima is a versatile poet as he tackles almost any issue that pops up in his mind; he has no boundaries on the issues he addresses.
“I always write things which happen in our everyday life be it political, love, spiritual…you name it! My poems are there to inform, educate and entertain.” enlightens Sitima.
According to Mulanje District Hospital nurse, releasing a number of CD’s like kalata kwa jailosi in 2011, Chala changa in 2014, and a double launch of his first poetry video with 11 poetry videos in 2018, and his 3rd CD entitled mfiti za mfiti which was launched at Blantyre Cultural Center in Blantyre, M1 Center point in Lilongwe and Mulanje secondary School in Mulanje are some notable events in his poetic career.
To add on top of that, performing in several Festivals like Blantyre Arts Festival (BAF) and NASFEST in Lilongwe and in different big occasions, making relationships and connections with a lot of big people and building a house in which him and the family is staying are also party of the achievements too.
Sitima said that there are a lot of challenges which he has and he is still passing through like being called to perform in different events but not paid in return and organizing poetry shows but less people attending which results into losses.
“People undervaluing us and taking us as not very important category of artists, or not educated is also a challenge which we as poets do face.” Added Sitima.
Overcoming the challenge
As a way of overcoming these challenges, Sitima said that if you love what you do and have passion on that, you don’t go back.
“I love poetry so I don’t go back if I meet stumbling block a head of me.” Said Sitima.
To the up and coming poets, Sitima said they have to work hard and know what they are doing, and be humble since to him humility is the best remedy for success.
Upon asked as to what his plans are in poetry, the stage master said he is recording new poems and he will work on DVD and then launch it in all the three regions of Malawi.
Among other poems which he has so far come up with, Ndilimbitse mtima, kubvikula za kukhosi, kwathu nkuno, Chala changa, m’manja mopanda kanthu, kuteteza kosalako, ulendo wa dorika and kumanda sakhuta, are amongst them.
These poems receive airplays in most of the radio and television stations in Malawi.
SOCIAL MEDIA HANDLES:
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