Tributes pour in for two media gurus; Akwete Sande and Vynn Phiri

By Duncan Mlanjira

Tributes keep pouring in for two of Malawi’s media gurus, Akwete Ligongo Sande and Vynn Matembo Chimika Phiri, who passed on Thursday and Friday respectively.

Akwete died at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital after succumbing to cancer while Vynn died at St. Gabriel Hospital in Lilongwe where he had been admitted for a week.

In his eulogy on Facebook, Chauncy Mopho Jere said of Vynn: “A life so beautifully lived deserves to be beautifully remembered.”

Akwete Ligongo Sande

Booker Matemvu said: “Devastated to hear that two of my friends have gone to sleep with the ancestors. I am shocked! Went to bed having received news of the passing on of Akwete Sande and waking up to this news.

“Well, what can I say! We were mooting the idea of a Lilongwe Book Club together and here we are.

“Sad is an understatement — a fountain pen running out of ink in mid sentence!”

Vynn Matembo Chimika Phiri

Veteran poet and academician, Benedicto Malunga said: “Our dirge can only be the Achebean; there is nobody for whom it is well — Uchendu sang to a distraught Okonkwo in exile. May their souls rest in peace.”

Banks Mdala Kachinda said he was troubled that he will not mourn Akwete Sande the way he was supposed to because he has travelled.

“I knew Akwete in 1985 when he taught me English at Kimu in Zomba during my early primary school years,” he said.

What Facebook judged of Vynn

“He taught me performing arts, comedy, drama and poetry during those years and became an instant friend of my elder brother, Prime Kachinda — who together mentored me to become a responsible citizen.

“Prime’s 4th-born son is named after his name — Akwete Ligongo CheSande and together with his dad are on their way to Zomba’s 6 Miles to mourn a friend and a beloved uncle.

“To say Akwete Sande was a family friend is an understatement — wewala waliji achimwene. Last week before I embarked on my journey we talked and joked about his trip to Harare, Zimbabwe to get treatment for prostrate cancer.

“My brother Prime visited him in Blantyre 3 weeks ago and they sent photos. I am devastated! Kwathu sipadzikodi! Inna lillah wain a ilaihi rajiuna (we came from God and to God we shall return.”

Singer and Pastor, Wycliffe Chimwendoh said of the two: “Men of valour that contributed positively to our society, gone. May their souls rest in peace.

Vynn worked at Blantyre Newspapers (now Times Group) as The Daily Times editor before moving to Parliament where he was Chief Editor of Hansard while Akwete worked for MBC, The Monitor newspaper and at Times Group after a stint as a diplomat.

Times Group’s Managing Director Leonnard Chikadya said of the two: “Both were ‘brothers in crime’ against the State in their service  protecting the voiceless. May their souls rest peacefully.”

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“Vynn was a good guy,” said his pal Gray Barawe. “A good friend. Rest in peace, Vynn” while Mphatso Buliyani said: “He was an engaging personality indeed. He shall be missed.”

In his post, Chiza Nyirongo said: “When I joined BP&P (now Times Group) as an Administrator in those days, you [Vynn] befriended me as if we were already friends.

“One thing I realized is that you were an open person. You informed me about all the politics happening at the institution.

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“When Duncan Mlanjira motivated me to have a sports column in the Sunday Times newspaper, you were happy about it and you taught me a few tricks on how to be a good journalist.

“Boom! My column was loved by many. After leaving the Times Group, we always linked up until today when I got the news that you have gone to sleep with your ancestors! I strongly mourn on your passing and will terribly miss you Vynn!” wrote Nyirongo, a former footballer with University FC and MDC United.

Patrick Lunda said: “Vynn “was a passionate media manager, who groomed most vibrant journalists of this generation. May is soul Rest In Peace.”

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