Death is Life's high meed: Goodbye to my Teacher, My Boss and Mentor: Edward Chitsulo
"Why did I laugh to-night? No voice will tell"-John Keats
I rarely write nowadays because primarily of the nature of my work, nobody is supposed to know your opinion, I hope soon or later could live to the promise of three books, one on inside politics (1994-2015), one on media (history and greatest stories) and one on the greatest Malawians to remember. I hope to do that soon or later. For the media, I always thought I will have time to interview Edward Chitsulo, the Managing Editor of Nation Publications, who God recalled to his glory this morning. The wealth of information, experience and indeed skill taken from the Malawian media this morning, is simply unquantifiable. He was the media encyclopaedia. I was privileged to work under him for a good for years, before the "it has pleased letter" to serve your country came. My exit from the media was not that smooth, but as quickly as I learned on the new job, you do not make enemies with the media and you live for the day on all political appointments. Mr. Chitsulo, famous for his Raw Stuff column, interestingly never believed at once that I should continue with the political jobs. He called once in a while and asked if I could come home. Apart from MBC, NPL is my career home having served the company twice (2000-2002) before returning (2008-2012) in between I served MBC during the third term period, went to Ministry of Trade for some months. My second return at NPL I was greeted by Mr. Chitsulo on the telephone as I reported to Lilongwe office, he said "Welcome home, I was told we should expect bombs from you". I laughed and went on to work, it was the same time Malawi was changing it diplomatic ties from Taiwan to China and I went straight into the stories. In 2011 after the July 20 demonstrations and baptism by Malawi Police, he and the company's CEO would call every morning to check how I was doing. He was shocked on July 21, 2011 that I was in Lumbadzi following up on the riots that followed the demonstrations. He asked me to rest, "I think you have given us all the bombs we could ask you for." The paper started the Investigative Desk, I was privileged to be among the founding team. Of course some stories came out and some never did, we fought on the quality of the source, we fought on public interest and some were referred to the legal team who warned us all the time we took to publish. But between what would raise Mabvuto Banda's blood pressure, or the calm Bright Sonani's controlled temper, was that in the end we all had a product we agreed served the best interests. He never asked me to reveal my sources, he joked at "your spying capacity to get stories" but for sure, he protected us many times as his own children. Three stories I would do he would later ask me what would have happened if they were not true....I would say my sources were part of the whole event. In my short 10 year career, I had one law suit from an angry Parliament report which I am not sure how it ended, two injunctions against my story one I was named exclusively as first defendant, 10 break ins into my house and countless threats. Interestingly none at NPL bureau was a coward that we would scream into the paper of the daily threats we got. Mr Chitsulo was accused of all sorts of things, but the man was brave. Brave in the face of real danger, and hard on the real value of every story. NPL news process are very rigid, not for the weak nor faint hearted, that it is advised to take a break now and then for one to survive, but one thing every morning when he was chasing his next story Edward Chitsulo would call, apologise for the fight and report that the paper run out early because of your story. Personally I would understand the integrity of this man when I accepted a political job, alongside other Editors at NPL, in my new role I saw media from a different angle, he was among the few Media Managers with integrity and the paper stood among those I would be happy to say passed the test. Today many will write about this man from Cholo, who wrote his mind but also found time to teach others like me who never had a chance to get a Journalism degree in the first place. He never made you feel inadequate, he made you fight for your place on front pages. He was a remarkable man, he could spike all the NPL staff stories and put a MANA story as a lead, we would fight and whine, he would tell you, he considered the news value not the name. One story was about the Lilongwe kids clearing human faeces using bare hands. He stood by a news value. There are many stories he stood by a Malawian, pushed the agenda and interests of Malawians forgetting sometimes his ailing health, to me he was a patriot who served his country well. He was a man who taught many, resisted everything and inspired a whole generation of media personalities to believe in the story, dig further and of course defend your story. When I wrote a story of new flags being imported before being passed in Parliament, alongside my brother in profession, our source was very sensitive. The story run, everyone involved jumped and efforts and pressure was applied. We carried an apology based on business interest, he called me to apologise to me and asked me to accept without a sense of betrayal. He said we all know its true, but business sometimes comes first. When I wrote that the flags were flying hours after being passed in parliament, he personally said I will make this a front page big big headline to compensate you for the last one. There many stories, many fights, but looking back then and now, the Editor, my Editor and boss stood by me and was proud of me always. I am proud of this patriotic Malawi and wish he could have lived longer, taught many more. I went into Journalism at the age of 17 with no practical skill and a certificate from Pen Point. Late Jika Nkolokosa and Late Edward Chisambo and Aubrey Mchulu, lectured me all my first six months, asking me tough questions on every story, while Aubrey pointed out on a news story structure all the time. Later in 2008, it was Mr. Chitsulo and Mabvuto Banda who took time to mentor me. Ephraim Kasambo Munthali became another Jika, asking tough questions all the time. Mr. Alfred Ntonga was the silent gladiator, poking holes to a finished product but always made sense at the end of argument. To this patriotic Malawian from Cholo, I say depart well teacher and my boss, greet those that have gone before you, Your name and works will always be remembered!