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Alfonso speaks on heritage sites, fashion

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By Sam Banda Jnr:

Renowned fashion designer Lilly Alfonso has said there is need to invest more in the creative industry, citing fashion which she observed has potential to market the country to the world.

She among others, said fashion plays a crucial role in promoting tourism.

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Alfonso, who has starred in different platforms showcasing her designs and representing Malawi, said for example players in the industry need to give each other room for practice and support.

She also said it is high time that Malawians started buying locally made clothes as well as wear them as part of appreciating the products.

The fashion designer recently participated in a workshop in Egypt where she went courtesy of Egyptian Embassy.

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She said the workshops in Egypt were an eye opener which gave her a feeling that there is need to do things differently.

“I realised that we can use our God-given talents to contribute to our country. As a designer, I saw that as a country, we still don’t have our own national dress. In short, you can’t really describe what we wear that can really define us as Malawians,” Alfonso said.

The designer said for instance, Nigerians and South Africans can easily be recognised by the way they dress.

“Even their type of music is distinct and can be easily identified. These countries have done so well in arts because it is not a one-man’s work or effort, rather it needs unity among people. It also requires us to know our national heritage,” the designer said.

She said the creative industry needs to be given the necessary support.

“From there we can be able to come up with things that can make us unique and recognizable,” Alfonso said.

Despite her main area being fashion, Alfonso said she had an opportunity to undergo training on ‘Management of Heritage Sites and Mechanisms of Preservations of Cultural Heritage’.

“It was the best experience. I had the chance to understand more of what we have in Malawi in terms of our heritage and what we can do to preserve that heritage. We have various heritage sites in this country, but we don’t put effort and time to discover or understand our own heritage,” she said.

Alfonso said it is not the duty of the people in tourism alone but everyone.

“It is also our duty to understand what we possess as a country. It all comes back to us, Malawians. When we are investing in our businesses that attract tourists, for example lodges, hotels etc., knowing our cultural heritage will truly represent Malawian culture,” she said.

Alfonso also said, during the training in Egypt, they looked at a programme Destination of Egyptian Tourism and the Diversity of its Tourism Patterns.

“This basically emphasized the elements of heritage tourism nature and culture. In Malawi, many heritage sites are not really protected or given enough attention for development,” she said.

The designer said there are many places in the country such as Chongoni Rock Art in Dedza that most people are not aware of.

“People managing these tourism destinations need more promotions and awareness programmes of these sites. All this connects to the creative industry so we need to work in unity,” she said.

Alfonso said the country also needs to check itself and see where its strength and beauty lies.

“We have beautiful sites that are well known by Unesco. All that is required to be done is to recognise where we need to upgrade, develop, preserve and invest in. More interesting programmes and activities in the creative sector must also be put in place for tourists,” she said.

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