Tributes for Reuben Chirambo

10 Oct 2011 - 14:27

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It's with immense sadness that we mark the passing away of our dear friend and colleague, Dr Reuben Chirambo. Messages of condolence have been sent to us from all over—and the messages are remarkable in their consistency.

We mourn the loss of one of our most important scholars of African Literature at a time when this is one of the leading fields of enquiry within our discipline. So many of the messages have spoken about the untimeliness of Reuben's passing away. Mbongiseni Buthelezi speaks for many of us when he says, "there was much that I was still hoping to learn from Reuben."But quite apart from Reuben's scholarship, there's so much else that we had to learn from our friend and colleague—and as long as we take the trouble to remember that, Reuben's legacy is something that remains with us.

I make an appeal to you to remember Reuben's open door, and the other-worldly generosity of spirit that extended to his students, his colleagues, and any stranger dropping in to ask for direction. Remember Reuben's commitment to his students and the passion for African Literature that he inspired in them; remember Reuben's absolute selflessness and generosity with his time; remember Reuben's fortitude, his sense of humour and his unquenchable cheerfulness, even in circumstances that would test anyone beyond reasonable limits; remember Reuben's screensaver, with its slideshow of the house he was building for his family in Malawi; remember the love that he had for his family, and his extended family; remember the way he cared for the place that he was born.

Remember Reuben's patience and commitment to the realization that there is something of value that each of us has learnt, and that by sharing this with others, we make the world a better place. Long may we remember Reuben in this English department, and beyond. (Associate Professor Carol Clarkson)

Reuben had a generosity of spirit and a degree of professionalism that I admired enormously. He helped to make our department a welcoming and safe place for students, offering long hours of careful attention to his postgraduates and to the students whom he mentored as departmental Development Officer. Reuben had a wonderful sense of humour and was unfailingly kind and respectful in his dealings with colleagues and students. As a scholar of African literature he had forged a significant body of research and his manuscript on Malawian literature had just been accepted for publication. His untimely passing deprives us of an important scholar, a valued colleague and a kind friend. (Dr. Sandy Young)

Reuben was one of the first colleagues to invite me to lunch when I joined the English Department at the beginning of last year. He was helpful in easing me into the new environment. We have talked often since - about his vision for African literature in our department, about articles he was working on and his book manuscript, and about doing research in Malawi when I get round to it. We were due to have lunch again when we were both back from our travels. I was shocked to hear he had taken ill. When I finally managed to see him two days before he passed away his mind was still as sharp as ever in spite of the visible suffering. His passing is a great loss. There was much I was still hoping to learn from Reuben. I am just glad I got to say goodbye. (Mbongiseni Buthelezi)

A special memorial, organised by Assoc. Professor Carol Clarkson and the department, was held on Monday 10th October 2011 to celebrate the life of Reuben Chirambo. It was attended by his students, staff members and friends