17-year-old writer launches book


By Romeo Umali

Lilongwe based writer Bertha Chimphonda, 17, has launched her book titled Walking on Thorns.

The word “Walking on thorns” trended on the night of June 25 2021, during the launch of the book at River Side Hotel in Lilongwe at a dinner event which saw the young writer creating an exciting mood and breathing life into the audience through her poems.

The book  which is a collection of poems defies people’s negative opinion on women and girls in solidarity with those who suffer in silence.

Bertha strode onto the podium with a brave interesting voice, saying she had put in a lot of efforts to identify the hurdles that derail women from reporting what breaks their hearts.

While expressing joy that the book was successfully launched, the young star said the majority of women in the country suffer in silence and that leaves a lot of scars in their memory a development which tends to be a setback as they live.

“A lot of ladies suffer in silence fearing they might lose their dignity and respect. Some fear they might ruin their marriages. Our culture differentiates men from women and that weakens women, so those are some of the issues contained in the book and I am hoping to see its wider distribution in as far as gender-based violence is concerned,” said Chimphonda.

She added that the idea was drawn from people and events that occurred within her nose.

She said: “I draw my inspiration from the people and events occurring around me and sometimes I get information from stories that have been told by victims of such issues.”

The book was exclusively premiered by Africa’s knowledge bank, African Literature (Aflit), an online platform which is serving as a library created by Nytech solutions, a Malawian information Technology Company.

The face of Aflit in Malawi Dr Jessie Kabwila described Bertha as the voice of voiceless as she has set a tone for survivors of gender-based violence.

Kabwila said the book should be a great inspiration to both gender-based violence survivors and teenagers in the country.

“Bertha has provided us with a lesson and she has given a voice to gender based Violence survivors who thought it is not possible to stand against perpetrators of the such cases. Malawi continues to bemoan a rise in GBV cases and with Covid the cases are likely to multiply.it is a pandemic on top of a pandemic,” said Kabwila.

Malawi writers Union President Chikumbutso Ndaferankhande described Walking on Thorns as a landmine that will inspire other adolescents in the writing industry.

“This is a very big milestone. It’s exciting to see the youth embracing writing. The future is bright indeed. Let other youth learn from this girl and they should read a lot,” said Ndaferankhande.

The toast of the night was the auctioning of the book during which Pastor Abraham Simao of Christ Embassy Church purchased a copy at K100 ,000 while former first lady of the republic of Malawi Calista Mutharika bought the book at K50,000 followed by Kabwila who bought a copy of the book at K 25 ,000.

The book is a collection of 26 poems on Gender based violence particularly on women and girls.

The first three poems of the book give the reader a picture of the struggles women endure without further idle.


Bertha writes in part:

“He wakes me up at night, yes he does

In the middle of the night, yes

While drunk, of course

Just to beat me up, yes

using his feasts as weapons, yes”.

The poems include: Can someone tell a man to stop, a different type of sweat, chocked, team work, helpless broken hearts and lonely cry.