* My first memories of school life were made here—Andrew Chigamba
* Wow! You remind me of my days in Chitawira as a kid and a grown up too—Angela Zingani Phiri
* Good men of the yesteryears. Strong pillars of the community, achina Dunda pambalipo—Gusto Sapangwa
* Wow! Nice memories. You remind me of Malawi. Kale lathu malume—Mada Khupe
By Duncan Mlanjira
Soche Township in Blantyre, that comprises Chitawira; Nkolokosa; Soche East; Naperi and Njamba, had several historic places that many of the generation that grew up in these communities fondly and nostalgically reminisce.
They are Kudya Motel & Entertainment Centre; Zodetsa at Kamba and a famous and mostly patronized shop that faces Chitawira Primary School — fondly known then and still as D.P. Chirwa.
The name of the building derived from the owner’s himself, who would sit behind the counter as shop attendants — his own relations — served customers and when they are many he himself would serve in such customer care that every patron loved and appreciated.
His grandson, Zagwa B. Kapito — a renowned insurance executive — posted on Facebook a picture of the historic DP Chirwa shop without any accompanying caption, but it received an avalanche of responses — all reminiscing the good memories it evoked.
In front of the building in the picture is a vintage car, which Zagwa explained then that at the wheel was his grandma.
Nkhoma wa Nkhoma appreciated the picture post, saying “the structure still stands strong” while Noel Tomoka commented: “Our place! There was Oasis Club afterwards, run by Mr. Kumbuka Kalua.”
The shop served learners of Chitawira and Mlambalala primary schools at break time — as well as those from St. Pius Primary School and Chichiri Secondary School on their way back home.
The oldies who were served in this shop reminisce the goodies that were provided such as fresh Mandasi; cream biscuits; jam puffs; milkscones from Tataris Bakery; jaw breakers; toffees and other sweets by Universal Industries and many mouth-watering snacks.
Potiphar Esau-Kaluwa Gusto said the mandasi were well prepared just behind the shop by a senior citizen then whom they addressed as Ama (mom or granny), who “was very strict with hygiene and would mostly made them herself”.
Other shops of repute alongside D.P. Chirwa were Dunda & Sons and Phekani, which also housed a shop for Malawi Pharmacies Ltd.
Wezie Chirwa told Zagwa that the post “brought good memories of the old man and this place 🙂” while Nellie Bakuwa said: “Good old days, our memories are embedded in this — break time at Chitawira/Mlambalala FP Schools.”
Another Malawian, Maurice Newa — a corporate executive of international repute — grew up in Nkolokosa and did his primary school at Chitawira where he went on to historic Blantyre Secondary School and all the way to Chancellor College.
He reminisces: “Awesome memories BK! Roy, Kankota, Fizo/Finai and BK well positioned in the shop counters serving customers😊😊. Kwanu uku Brian Zagwa B. Kapito. When Chitawira was part of the best days of our lives.”
Floe Mtisunge Mangaka described the picture as “very beautiful” and “classic” while Gusto Sapangwa paid tribute to DP Chirwa as being among the “good men of the yesteryears” who were “strong pillars of the community” along side Dunda.
“That vintage car looks like a Zephyr,” he said, as it brought memories of how DP Chirwa lived a classic life.
Andrew Chigamba said: “My first memories of school life were made here to which Angela Zingani Phiri agreed, saying: “You remind me of my days in Chitawira as a kid and a grown up there too.”
Visible at the corner of the picture is a Post Office Box, which Lumbani Munthali, who grew up in the community and also attended Chitawira Primary School said: I can see a Post box — nthawi imeneyo makalata timaposita pamenepo (we used to post our letters through this box)”.
Conrad Kanjo said: “Love this. This is where we used to buy ma milk scones, toffee sweets, biscuit wa cream on our way from Chichiri Primary to Soche East. Aw, I really wish I’d rewind the time — I hate these days.”
Another commentator observed this is one of the “landmarks from days but gone past” to which Limbani Magomero commented that “the coming in of big supermarkets killed such businesses”.
Legends of Soche Township community then included Maurice Newa; Short Dunda; Gibson Dunda; Chikosa Mazunda; Charles Govati; Limbani Magomero; the boys from Utembe family and many others.
Most oldies of the 1970s and 80s have formed WhatsApp groups in which they share some memorable posts of the past, while organising get together parties to reminisce more.
Zagwa B. Kapito’s post of D.P. Chirwa certainly evoked the memories it intended to. There are many other picture posts of some nostalgic spots of Blantyre which have always attracted many fond responses.