Khwima Kayira, an 11-year-old pupil at St Phoenix International Primary School in Blantyre, has become the first Malawian to publish a book, Greatest Eleven, at his age.
Kayira, a relation to legendary novelist Legson Kayira--author of Jingala and the celebrated autobiographical novel I Will Try--is in Standard Six, has published his book at a time when the country continues to bemoan the reading and writing culture in the country.
Malawi Writers Union (Mawu) president, Chikumbutso Ndaferankhande, said in an interview with Nyasa Times on Tuesday that the publication of Kayira's book should be "a great inspiration to both budding and established writers" in the country.
"It is phenomenal, and we [Mawu] are proud. As a Union we look forward to using the book in inspiring more budding writers to pick up their pens or laptops and let out the creative stories in them.
"Actually, that is why as Union we have all along been pushing for a National Book Policy. If the Policy were in existence, government would have helped in the purchase of the book so that more people access the book or at least government should have subsidized the book for the general public," said Ndaferankhande, himself a multi-award-winning short story and book writer.
Business mogul and philanthropist, Thom Mpinganjira, who attended the book launch at Magalasi New Apostolic Church grounds in Blantyre on Friday and spoke on behalf of the author, announced that Kayira would be the first beneficiary of the Thompson and Barbara Foundation to which he is chairman.
"At first, I thought it was a joke, but when I read the book, I was inspired. I am trying to write my own biography and it's not easy. So Khwima is the first beneficiary of the youth programme of the foundation.
"In as far as the foundation is concerned, we will be looking at innovations done by the youth; so, it could be business and any other innovations and to hear that an 11-year-old has authored a book is inspiring," said Mpinganjira, who could not disclose how much Kayira would be getting.
Donald Mphande, guest of honour during the launch, said reading through some of the data that he normally keeps, Khwima becomes the third person to have written a book on this continent of Africa at the age of 11, only surpassed by two girls that have written books but are currently living in advanced countries.
"The nation should be proud of this feat. There is writing as in writing but there is also clear writing which Khwima has done. This is a perfect piece of art and the boy has shown imagination, maturity and zeal on things that appeal and we associate with," Mphande said.
And, in an interview, Kayira said he felt great to have launched the book.
"I would like to thank people who spared their time to be part of it. I didn't struggle when writing because I had support from my family," he said.
Greatest Eleven, a 45-page book printed by Montfort Media and published by Bookland International takes people through the story of Jason who loved football.
The simplistic tone of the language, throughout the book, bears testimony in the originality of Khwima's work. Somewhere the book reads:
"Jason loved football. He loved football. What he liked most was playing football. Football! Football! Football! Each time he woke up, he would go outside to play. He would bathe, go to school, come back, do his homework and play again. Oh, he was not the only one who was crazy about football; all his friends, his best friend Jake and the rest - Jonathan, Zack, Chicco and Themba."