Lilongwe – Outside of Malawi, only those people in academic circles may have hear of Professor Felix Mnthali.
At least that was so until early this week.
On Monday, Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi spoke glowingly about Malawian educators, making special mention of Prof Mnthali.
While visiting Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera on March 8, President Masisi said: “I was at some point taught by some of Malawi’s finest teachers, who include Professor Felix Mnthali in English and Professor Davidi Lubadiri.”
What is special about Prof Mnthali is not that he taught one man who would become a president. He taught two.
Among Prof Mnthali’s former students is the man who was hosting President Masisi last Monday, President Chakwera.
Prof Mnthali is a Malawian academic who was born in what was then called Selukwe (now Shurugwi) in colonial Rhodesia before Zimbabwe gained its independence. He was educated in Lesotho and Canada and he is a renowned poet and novelist who went into political exile in 1979 after a period of detention that ended with a government apology.
His publications include the poetry collection When Sunset Comes to Sapitwa and the novel Yoranivyoto.
Prof Mnthali retired in 2010 as a Professor of English at the University of Botswana, which is where he counted President Masisi as one of his students.
President Masisi was in Malawi on Monday for a few hours.
He told the media, “Malawi is extremely important to Botswana. Malawi is a great partner in so many ways and the people of the two countries enjoy the mutual benefits of the bilateral relationship that the two countries have had for many years since time immemorial.”
He extended an invitation to the Malawian leader to visit Botswana.
The two leaders indicated they discussed plans to establish resident diplomatic missions to strengthen bilateral ties.