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A taste of Sand’s 10th edition

FLASHBACK— Sir Paul Banda performs with Alleluya Band at the festival last year

Michael Usi

People have waited for long but finally Sand Music Festival is here.

The festival kicks off today at Sunbird Livingstonia in Salima District and ends on Sunday with several acts including Tanzania’s Diamond and South Africa’s Master KG part of the line-up.

The festival started as a mere show at Zitherepano in Mangochi District 10 years ago but it has now grown into an international festival that can be counted among the top in the country.

Although it still has a long way to go, the festival has proved over the years, that it has enough to offer to the people in terms of entertainment and also at the same time help sell the country to the world.

Minister of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife Michael Usi, told the media recently that the country needs to give much attention to arts which has been neglected for a long time.

He said that for tourism to develop in the country, there was need to connect it with arts and culture.

“Culture is key, we need to give it respect and support if we are to uplift tourism. We have festivals that offer people activities and also help in selling the country to the world,” Usi said.

While other top festivals such as Lake of Stars, Blantyre Arts and Tumaini are not taking place this year, Sand Music which last year took place at Kabumba Hotel in the same district has decided to go on despite the threats of Covid-19 pandemic.

Banda said for them to hit 10 years with the festival, it has not been easy for them but hailed people for their support.

“This is a festival for Malawians by Malawians. We will always try to give people what they want in terms of entertainment. We know we have failed at times in our previous editions but we have not given up, we have learnt from the mistakes and improved. Every year we want to improve,” he said.

Banda however, bemoaned the lack of support from the corporate world saying the festival has failed to receive enough support the past years.

“Our friends in other festivals outside the country receive huge support from companies but here it is still a problem. There are companies, who benefit from these festivals but they have not come out to support. As a festival, we do not need much, companies can choose to sponsor a stage or even support some artists in terms of payments and that would really help us,” Banda said.

He said this year has been tough for them to put together the festival with the pandemic.

“We nearly called it off but we are thankful to God that the cases have gone down. We would have loved if the government opened up on some of the restrictions so as to give a chance to more people to patronise the show. There is just so much that the country is benefiting from this festival, there are people travelling from other countries and bringing in foreign countries and we have international artists,” Banda said.

He said they did not want to skip their 10th anniversary hence making everything possible for the festival to take place.

Banda then urged people to patronise the whole three days of the festival and not only target a day.

“On the opening day, we have local acts ready to entertain people and the line-up includes Skeffa Chimoto, my son Johnny, Nepman, Che Wikise, Sam Smack, Sangie, Malinga Mafina and myself. We also have DJs Mutchie and Sol,” he said.

The ‘Mabala’ creator said on the second day, people will be treated to performances from among others, Master KG, who will be performing at the festival for the first time and Diamond who is here for the second time.

“We brought in Diamond because he was here in 2016 and so being our 10th anniversary we thought of bringing some artists who have been here before. As for Master KG, he is trending and his ‘Jerusalema’ song has won the hearts of many people,” Banda said.

He said the festival was there this year to celebrate its 10th anniversary but also at the same time remove stress from the people having suffered with Covid-19 pandemic.

“It’s been a hard year. Artists have suffered in the absence of shows. Most artists depend on shows but with a ban on gatherings of more than 100 people things could not work. We want people to experience the festival and live with memories,” Banda said.

On Sunday the festival will experience performances coming from gospel acts including Rudo Chakwera, Great Angels Choir, Ethel Kamwendo Banda, Marvelous Deeds, Wendy Harawa, Alleluya Band, Shammah Vocals and Esther Chungu.

“Being a Sunday, we want people to relax and enjoy gospel music. But we also have other activities such as aerobics. We will make sure that we do not have any dull moments,” Banda said.

Last year the festival saw performances from among others, Botswana’s Vee Mampezy and Jamaica’s King Sounds.

Some international acts, who have graced the Sand Music Festival stage over the years have disappointed but some have impressed and fans still have fond memories of Jamaica’s Kenyatta Hill and Busy Signal whose performances were explosive.

“I think we have proved that we are here to serve Malawians. But we still insist that companies should assist us, some of the things which we are failing to do now it’s because we do not have enough. All these international artists we bring cost us a lot and if companies can help then things will be easier and that will even make us look for more top artists. This will also help us pay artists on time and better packages,” Banda said.

He also said despite Covid-19 pandemic cases going down, they were not taking any chances and that they will observe all the measures.

“People should come with masks and handsanisters. Otherwise we are ready and we hope people will have another edition to remember,” Banda said.

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