Over many years I have enjoyed a close collaboration with Klaus Fiedler, a German scholar who has adopted Malawi as his permanent home. It began in 1992 when Klaus was our house guest during his first three months in Malawi. He brought with him a passion for research and publication that swept me along as we embarked on numerous projects together during the 1990s.
When I returned to Malawi in 2019, it was not long before I was sitting on Klaus’s veranda in Mzuzu talking about literary matters. Among them was the idea of writing a complete and comprehensive church history of Malawi – the kind of book that could serve a textbook for the growing numbers of Malawian students taking a Malawi church history course.
It seemed an ambitious idea, but we thought if got the ball rolling we might be able to work on it together over a number of years. Little did we know that a few months later the two of us would be near neighbours in Zomba when the covid crisis struck and we were “confined to barracks.” Here was our chance. We set to work on the book, meeting every 48 hours to present and revise our drafts.
Last Wednesday the book was launched at Zomba Theological College, kicking off its Research Seminar for 2021. The event itself was somewhat subdued by a fresh upsurge of covid that means restricted numbers at public events. Nonetheless it was an excellent occasion with online participants joining those who could be there live and a video available to anyone who missed it – https://youtu.be/Uqd4AJT4BA0
Though Klaus and I have worked together on many projects, this is our first opportunity to collaborate as co-authors of a major book. It has been a very satisfying experience and I think both of us would agree that the one could not have done it without the other. Now we hope that the book has a good life. Certainly, there is nothing else like it. One of our colleagues has described as a “one-stop shop” for all you need to know about Malawi church history (at least at an introductory level).