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BAF gets low patronage on last day as Munya shines again

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Blantyre Arts Festival (BAF) ended on Sunday at Blantyre Cultural Centre attracting a low patronage.

The festival, which started on Friday with a carnival before the official opening by the Minister of Sports and Culture Grace Chiumia and then activities, pulled fair audiences on Friday and Saturday but it was a different story on the last day.

The day on Sunday started off with workshops on poetry, sound engineering and entrepreneurship in the morning before performances in the afternoon which included poetry from among others Joseph Madzedze and Sylvester Kalizang’oma as well as plays by Kwathu Drama Group and Solomonic Peacocks.

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After poetry and comedy, came live music performances which which were staged by a group from Germany, Agorosso, Waliko Makhala, Muhanya with Zimbabwe’s Munya closing the night.

Despite having a smaller audience in the night, the artists put up impressive performances with Agorosso, Waliko and Munya shining brighter.

Agorosso, who performed at the just-ended Lake of Stars Festival, offered three songs and showed once again that he has matured in his music.

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Waliko, who is a renowned ethno-musician also excited the audience with his performance and as usual he took people on a journey of his music which he dubs ‘Bush Music,’ music which he says is from the ancestors.

The singer and guitarist, who early this month also backed Zimbabwe’s veteran female musician Stella Chiweshe, dished out powerful traditional sound that had the smaller audience calling for more.

The audience had cheers of one more! One more for Waliko but with time running out there was no chance as Muhanya came up next.

Muhanya’s set was not hugely felt by the audience before Munya stormed the stage with his acoustic guitar.

The singer and guitarist,

who has been trained by legendary musician Oliver Mtukudzi through the Pakare Paye Arts Centre, delivered a master-class performance that had the audience, including artists Joseph Tembo and Ben Mankhamba.

Munya and his two other members, one on bass and the other on drums stunned the audience with their sound that came out as if it was a band with more members.

“I watched Munya last year, he is very good and I made sure I came today. It’s unfortunate the organisers lost out on the programme. Their programming was very poor because he could have performed on Friday or Saturday,” said Robert Tembo.

He added that the local artists needed to take a leaf from Munya stressing that the quality of sound on stage is not measured through the numbers of people you have on stage but the skills you have.

And just as he did last year, Munya conquered once again this year despite performing on the last day.

“I am happy to perform once again in Malawi and I thank BAF for inviting me once again this year. Through this platform I am now known by many Malawians,” he said.

On why the band has only three members, Munya said it was cheaper to be managed but also easier to travel to various places for performances.

Many people observed that BAF has potential to grow but it needs its members to work as a team.

“There is potential in the festival to grow but people work in isolation and there is a need for more commitment. For instance, there was lack of seriousness in terms of time management, the programming was poor and there were just too many sound checks which delayed proceedings,” said one artist, who did not want to be named.

There were activities such as fashion show and film screening which were on the menu but they did not take place.

BAF Public Relations Manager Emmanuel Mwanyongo admitted that there were gaps in the festival which they need to improve but was quick to say that they managed to run the event from Friday to Sunday.

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