Malawian diplomat and poet David Rubadiri dies

Saturday September 15 2018

Malawian diplomat, poet, playwright and novelist Prof David Rubadiri. He died on September 15, 2018. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Malawian diplomat, poet, playwright and novelist Prof David Rubadiri, 88, has died.   

In a tweet, Victoria Rubadiri, a close relative, said: “This literary giant now rests. Prof. David Rubadiri breathed his last today, but his words continue to inspire so many across this great continent. His legacy is one I could never live up to. The name he gave me is one I will continue to carry with pride. Rest in peace Babu.

Author and journalist Charles Onyango-Obbo said: “David Rubadiri was one of continent’s most anthologised and celebrated post-independence poets, was also among its most quintessentially African authors. RIP.”

Prof Rubadiri attended King's College, Budo in Uganda from 1941 to 1950 then Makerere University in Kampala (1952-56), where he graduated with a bachelor's degree in English literature and History.

He later studied literature at King’s College, Cambridge before receiving a Diploma in Education from the University of Bristol.



At Malawi's independence in 1964, he was appointed the country's first ambassador to the United States and the United Nations. Prof Rubadiri left the Malawian government in 1965 when he broke ranks with President Hastings Kamuzu Banda.

While in exile, he taught at Makerere University (1968–75), but he was again exiled during the Idi Amin reign. Prof Rubadiri later taught at the University of Nairobi between 1976 and 1984.

Between 1975 and 1980, he was a member of the Executive Committee of the National Theatre of Kenya.


From 1984 to 1997, he taught at the University of Botswana where he was dean of the Language and Social Sciences Education Department.

In 1997, after Banda's death, Prof Rubadiri was reappointed Malawi's ambassador to the United Nations. He was named vice-chancellor of the University of Malawi in 2000. He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Strathclyde in 2005.

Prof Rubadiri's poetry was published in the 1963 anthology Modern Poetry of Africa, while his novel, 'No Bride Price', was published in 1967. In the novel, he criticised the Banda regime.